Here’s how SF wants to regulate electric scooters

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is gearing up to present its proposal for electric scooter permitting. This comes after the SF Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance for the SFMTA to create a permitting process to better regulate the plethora of electric scooters from Bird, Lime and Spin.

The SFMTA’s proposal lays out a 24-month pilot program, which would grant up to five permits and 500 scooters per permit. As part of the program, electric scooter companies would need to provide user education and insurance, share its detailed trip data with the city, have a privacy policy that protects user data, offer a low-income plan and operate in a to-be-approved service area.

That means the city would allow no more than 2,500 electric scooters on the streets at any one time. In order to receive a permit, each company would need to first pay an application fee of $5,000 and show how they would ensure safe use and proper storage of scooters.

“The SFMTA supports innovative solutions that have the potential to complement our existing transportation network,” the proposal states. “Powered Scooter Share Programs introduce a new transportation option that may be convenient for users making short trips or as a “last mile” solution when paired with public transit. Furthermore, if Powered Scooter Share users replace trips they would otherwise have taken by automobile, they have the potential to reduce traffic congestion, parking demand, and carbon emissions. SFMTA staff have received numerous emails from Powered Scooter Share Program users expressing their support for these programs.”

The SFMTA’s proposal also describes how the city has received numerous complaints from residents pertaining to electric scooters. The complaints cover improper parking that blocks sidewalks and access to doors, as well as someone tripping over a scooter that was left on a sidewalk.

“This is of particular concern to members of the public who travel in a wheelchair or who have visual impairments, and have greater difficulty seeing and avoiding (or moving) Powered Scooter Share Scooters blocking their path,” the proposal states. “The SFMTA has been informed of one instance in which a person with a visual impairment fell after tripping on a scooter, as well as a report of a person breaking a toe after tripping on a Powered Scooter Share scooter.”

As of earlier this week, the San Francisco Department of Public Works had impounded 319 scooters, resulting in impoundment fees of $5,774 for Bird, Lime and Spin. As part of the proposed permitting process, companies would need to pay $10,000 for a “public property repair and maintenance endowment” in the event the city incurs additional costs due to the damaging of public property or needing to store improperly parked scooters.

The SFMTA Board of Directors is holding a public hearing next week to consider implementing this permit process.

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