“They need to be banned from ‘all’ sidewalks and no one under 18 ever, and helmets required at all times,” argued La Jolla Shores Association president Janie Emerson, speaking for herself. “They can only be left in designated parking areas, otherwise they should be ticketed or impounded within six hours.”
“You cannot put the genie back into the lamp, or the ship back into the bottle,” lamented community parks planner Sally Miller about scooters adding, “I have been helping La Jolla to fight clutter and vendors on our streets, on our sidewalks and in our parks for more than 30 years. Each one of these bikes and scooters ‘is’ clutter and ‘are’ vendors.”
Regulations the City Council approved April 23 decrease the allowable speed of dockless scooters from 15 to 8 mph in high-traffic areas with geofencing technology, while banning them from parking near hospitals, schools, boardwalks and Petco Park.
Greg Block of the mayor’s office testified scooters and similar devices are to be regulated in six ways: by being permitted, limiting their speeds, paying fees, parking in designated “corrals,” indemnifying the City against liability and sharing data.
Emerson added license fees for scooter companies “should be equal to or more than Requests For Proposals (RFPs) for bike and kayak companies.”
Miller decried the continuing proliferation of scooters.
“All these new companies could care less … all they want is the money in ‘their’ pockets. … there is ‘not’ one new regulation that can or will be enforced … the bikes, scooters and Segways are now illegally on the Fay Avenue extension [bike path]. … the only way to protect the PB boardwalk is a total ban. … Do we have to wait for more deaths to wake up?”
“Good start,” was the reaction of Dave Abrams, chair of La Jolla Traffic and Transportation Board speaking for himself on new scooter regulations. Noting it was his understanding that scooters are still allowed on PB/Mission Beach Boardwalk, Abrams said, “That’s a mistake. They also should require helmets. Bizarre that the state passed legislation saying it was okay to go without (helmets).”
“They (regulations) are extensive and, perhaps, overly ambitious,” contended La Jollan Nancy Linck. “Can they be enforced? We have too many laws that are not enforced. … Another concern I have is cost. What will SD taxpayers have to pay to enforce the regs, if anything? Will the $150/year/scooter fee pay for them? Will the fee force the operators out of business before they make sufficient money to finance their businesses and pay such fees?”
In excerpts from a statement she released following the April 23 scooter regulation vote, District 1 Councilmember and President Pro Tem Barbara Bry said: “Since public safety is the number one responsibility of local government, our community expects us to pass responsible regulations. … I share the frustrations of residents. It should not have taken us a year to pass an ordinance that still needs work. … I had supported an emergency ban of electric scooters on our local boardwalks. …Since then, the situation has gotten even more chaotic and unsafe. … I remain committed to a ban. …In the meantime, we asked that boardwalks be included on the 3 mph geofencing list. … This was an overdue step in the right direction. … It was, however, only the first step.”
On April 23, the council also instituted fees for scooter operators, decreased allowed speeds for them and designated where they can — and can’t — park.
KEY COMPONENTS OF NEW SCOOTER RULES
·Speed limits: In specific geofenced areas, operators will slow scooters to 8 mph. Three of the those areas are pedestrian-only and operators will slow scooters to 3 mph with a push message notifying riders to leave that area.
·Geofencing will be in effect for beach-area boardwalks, Balboa Park, NTC Park, Mission Bay Park, Petco Park and the pedestrian-only locations, including North/South Embarcadero, MLK Jr. Promenade, and La Piazza della Famiglia.
·Staging: Operators will no longer be able to stage scooters and e-bikes on sidewalks in downtown. The City has identified – and is currently installing – 330 on-street dockless parking corrals throughout downtown where staging is allowed.
·In the beach areas, operators are only permitted to stage in groups of up to four, with 40 feet in between each group. The City will identify corral locations in the beach areas and, once installed, will require their use.The City also will conduct an evaluation of locations throughout San Diego where designated parking corrals would be beneficial and, working with the City Council and communities, install more.
·Rider parking: Operators will prohibit riders from ending a ride in specific geofenced areas, including beach area boardwalks.
·Education: Consistent messages about local and state laws in smartphone applications will be required. As will on-device labeling about age requirements and how riding on the sidewalk is illegal.
·Per device fee: A per device fee of $150 annually will be assessed. A reduction of $15 per device will be offered for operators offering a qualified equity program.
·Equity programs may include discounts, equitable distribution, credit-card free unlock or mobile-device free unlock.
·Data sharing: A variety of data will be shared about ridership, parking, paths of travel and more to assist the City in transportation planning, Climate Action Plan reporting and enforcement.
·Indemnification/insurance: Operators will be required to indemnify the City from liability and to hold a $2 million per occurrence, $4 million aggregate and $4 million umbrella insurance policy.
·Performance bond: Each operator will be required to pay a “Safety Deposit” – $65 for each device in fleet – to be held in the event the company leaves the market without its devices.
The ordinance will charge dockless companies an annual $150 per-device fee. The City noted that should act as a de facto cap on scooter numbers.