San Diego

City Council Approves Mayor's Dockless Bike and Scooter Regulations

The San Diego City Council unanimously approved dockless bike and scooter safety regulations Tuesday that electric scooter companies, like Bird, Lime, and Razor, would need to adhere to in order to operate within city limits.

The council approved the regulations proposed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer in October in hopes that they would help cut down on accidents and nuisances caused by careless users

The regulations include 8 mile-per-hour speed limits in high-pedestrian-traffic areas: Spanish Landing, Balboa Park, NTC Park, Mission Bay Park and boardwalks in Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla beach areas. 

Two downtown areas will be considered "no-ride zones" -- at the North and South Embarcadero and at Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade -- and the speed limit will be reduced to 3 mph in those areas. 

Speed limits will be reduced through the use of geofencing technology and it will be up to the individual companies to slow their devices down in the designated zones and alert riders when they are in no-ride zones.

Some council members vowed to return six months from now with a complete boardwalk and sidewalk ban.

Violators could face fines. Meanwhile, each scooter company will have to pay for 6-month permits and pay a $150 fee per device each year.

A representative from Lime, an electric scooter company, said the new rules won't immediately impact rider rates.

"Our rates will remain what they are right now. We aren't making any changes tomorrow over this," the spokesperson said.

The city also wants data from dockless bike and scooter companies that it can use to get a clearer picture of the nuisances, travel paths and parking information.

The council heard arguments from both sides for more than two hours Wednesday.

"They should not be on the sidewalk. They've taken away my independence," one man said.

A video was played showing painful scooter crashes in different parts of town. A supporter called those instances anomalies, which was met with resounding boos.

Two weeks ago, the city started stenciling parking corrals along red curbs in some neighborhoods as a test. Those corrals will now be used for staging all scooters and bikes and they won't be allowed to be reset on the sidewalks.

The city has begun stenciling 330 corrals in the downtown area alone. Operators will be required to stage their scooters in groups of no more than four and there must be 40 feet between each staging area. 

Riders will be prevented from ending their rides in some areas, including at beaches and boardwalks, around Petco Park and near the Embarcadero. 

But downtown resident Ali Faraj, who lives with vision impairment, says it's not enough.

"It doesn't address the issues quickly as to taking scooters off the sidewalks and to banning riders from riding on the sidewalk," he said. "I trip over 20 to 30 a day at a minimum."

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