San Diego

Dockless Bikes & Scooters Bring New Options and Headaches to Pacific Beach

Rising call for leaders to hit the brakes on new transportation craze hitting San Diego

Finding a motorized scooter near your house or a bicycle outside your office has never been easier in Pacific Beach, but the new craze of app-based companies offering hassle-free, point A to point B transportation is already causing big headaches for some locals.

The famous boardwalk running from Mission to Pacific Beach is now flush with electric scooters and daring riders who weave in and out of pedestrian traffic at speeds nearly twice the 8 mph limit.

An elderly woman who walks the path nearly every day said in a matter of weeks the scooter invasion changed everything. She no longer feels safe taking the oceanfront stroll.

Others complain about the bikes and scooters being left in the middle of sidewalks and even their driveways.

"I wake up every morning to move my car and, put it this way, three days out of the week, I'm moving the scooters and bikes so I can get out of my driveway," said Robby Sorenson, who lives and workes in Pacific Beach.

Dropping a bike off wherever you want is part of the allure of the dockless phenomenon and part of the problem when users aren't conscientious.

Dave Ogren, a young vacationer and first-time scooter renter summed up the argument.

"If you had your own bike you can't just drop it off, you gotta lock it up and everything, this, you just close the app, boom, done, somebody else's problem," said Ogren.

Supporters of the "Dockless Bike & Scooter" trend call it the most exciting change to hit San Diego in years as it offers a reasonable alternative to congested roads and a glimpse into an environmentally greener future.

The service gives people a new way to see one of America's favorite cities.

Some believe the early problems are worth navigating given the potential long-term benefit and believe any new idea will be met with a certain degree of complaints among those resisting change.

Many of the people we spoke with who voiced concerns said the dockless bikes and scooters are a good idea in theory. But, they believe the city of San Diego allowed the companies to set up shop with too little oversight, turning Pacific Beach into the "wild wild west" testing ground of dockless transportation.

Matt Gardner, owner of two traditional bike rental shops, said GPS technology exists to allow for additional controls on where customers can and cannot drop off rentals, but it will cost the companies more money to set up "geo-fences".

Critics of the fast moving business trend are now leaning on town councils and other business groups to put added pressure on City Hall to come up with a more concrete framework.

Assistant Chief Operating Officer Stacey Lomedico sent letters Wednesday to the four dockless bike and scooter companies currently authorized to operate in San Diego reminding them of rules in the city's municipal code about blocking business access and advertising goods for rent in parks.

You can read a copy of the letter sent to Limebike here. The letters sent tot he four companies are identical.

Some have called for the city to put the brakes on the entire program while the kinks get worked out, but there's no indication of such a deal happening anytime soon.

At this point, the only thing piling up faster than the scooters and bikes decorating sidewalks from Pacific Beach to Hillcrest are the complaints.

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