Thousands of Scooters to Be Removed as Los Angeles Adopts New Program

By Zach Li
Zach Li
Zach Li
September 6, 2018 Updated: September 6, 2018

A one-year pilot program that sets a cap on how many dockless electric scooters each company can operate in the City of Los Angeles was approved unanimously by all 13 city council members on Sep. 4.

Starting within 120 days after the Tuesday meeting, the program limits each company to deploy no more than 3,000 devices across the city. However, each operator is allowed to put an extra 2,500 scooters in disadvantaged communities and another 5,000 devices in low-income communities in the San Fernando Valley.

Even with the total number of scooters adding up to 10,500 per company, creators of the new rule hope to curb the dramatic growth of the companies, which have been accused of dumping the scooters into neighborhoods starting last year without proper management and planning.

A representative of Bird, one of the major scooter rental companies, told City News Service (CNS) that about 8,000 scooters are now deployed in the city. But one city official said the company has around 15,000 devices citywide, according to Curbed.

Other companies like Lime are believed to also have thousands of scooters in the city, which means many will need to be transferred to other areas or removed altogether.

“It would be a serious cut,” David Estrada, head of government relations and public policy for Bird, told CNS. “And the way we look at it is, it’s a drastic and chaotic cut to the market of transportation people rely upon every day.”

Women ride scooters in Santa Monica in California
Young women ride shared electric scooters in Santa Monica, Calif. on July 13, 2018. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

However, scooter rental company Lime issued a statement on Sep. 5 welcoming the new regulations, which would allow “companies to provide enhanced mobility options for the city’s residents,” reported CNS.

During the council meeting, multiple city council members expressed their concerns about safety issues associated with the improper use of scooters. According to the pilot program, a tail light and a notice saying “Not To Ride On Sidewalk” are required for each scooter. The maximum speed of an electric scooter is also limited to 15 miles per hour.

The Transportation Committee once recommended setting the speed limit at 12 mph, after it was discovered that some companies intended to increase their top speed to appeal to riders. But operators argued that low speeds could disturb the traffic that shared lanes with scooters, especially since people usually ride bikes at a speed of 15 to 20 mph.

In Los Angeles, a typical scooter can be rented through a cell phone app at an initial cost as low as $1, with 15 cents per minute afterward. The device is dockless, which means it can be left anywhere. As a cheap and convenient transportation alternative, electric scooters have quickly received lots of support but criticism as well.

In July, after several vehicle collisions involving shared scooters were reported in the city of Beverly Hills, an ordinance was passed by the city council banning the devices for a 6-month period.

Zach Li
Zach Li