San Diego

Dockless Scooter Company Adds Geofencing, Report Feature as Safety Measures

In an effort to remedy one of their biggest complaints, the dockless scooter company, Bird, has announced new safety measures for riders in San Diego.

Representatives for Bird were joined by Assemblymember Todd Gloria and San Diego City Councilmember Chris Ward to share updates to the app that allow customers to report incidents and safety hazards. 

Bird's feature is part of the company's "GovTech" platform that aims to work with the city to address residents' concerns. 

"A middle ground would be fantastic that way people can still ride them. It's a new idea; it's making a lot of money but safety is a big concern, and also convenience and courtesy." Tierrasanta resident Luke Fallon said.

Geofencing within the app will allow the city of San Diego to create virtual no-ride and no-parking zones, which can alert riders when they are in areas they should not be in. 

The app will also create an information system that the city can use to receive insight into rider's usage, like the status of the scooter and trip data.  

Bird will also prompt app users with information on how to safely use the scooters and city-specific rules. The city can request particular messages for users as well. 

Although the dockless scooters have caused concern for some residents, others are optimistic about their opportunity. 

"Change is hard, change is absolutely difficult and I know a lot of folks may want to see a ban, but I think the majority of folks want sensible regulations that will keep them and the riders safe," Gloria said.

In June, an electric scooter crash on the Mission Beach boardwalk left a mother and her 11-year-old daughter seriously injured. The girl suffered a ruptured spleen and a head injury.

The accident happened just over a month after the San Diego City Council voted against an emergency ordinance that would have banned motorized scooters on the boardwalk.

Right now it is mandatory to wear a helmet when riding electric scooters, but that could soon change with new legislation.

A bill passed in August would allow adults to ride motorized scooters without a helmet in California. The bill now awaits Governor Jerry Brown's signature to become state law. Bird backed the proposal. 

The scooter company does provide free helmets to customers who request one as an in-app option. Riders just need to pay a shipping fee. 

While Tuesday's announcement only included Bird, Gloria hopes other dockless scooter companies like LimeBike and Razor will come up with their own safety features.

The announcement came a day before Bird and other dockless scooter companies, including LimeBike and Razor, were scheduled to present the steps they are taking to address public safety concerns to the San Diego City Council. 

The council's public safety committee has been working with the companies for months to address public safety concerns, which will be discussed at Wednesday's city council meeting. 

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