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San Diego City Council Considers Banning Motorized Scooters Along Mission Beach Boardwalk

Associated Press
A man rides an electric-scooter-sharing from a company called the 'Bird' along Pennsylvania Ave., infront of the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, Monday, May 14, 2018.
San Diego City Council Considers Banning Motorized Scooters Along Mission Beach Boardwalk
San Diego City Council Considers Banning Motorized Scooters Along Mission Beach Boardwalk GUEST: Joshua Emerson Smith, environment reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

>>> Whatever could be wrong with taking a breezy carefree ride along the Mission Beach board rock on your motorized scooter. Looks like a lot of fun until you run into somebody's foot or backside or somebody's child. This week the San Diego city Council will consider whether the new Dochler scooter Creighs should be banned from the Mission Beach Boardwalk. Joining me is San Diego Union Tribune reporter Joshua, Emerson Smith. We started seeing motorized scooters in San Diego about the same time we started seeing those Dochler Spikes. Where did they come from? >> These are private companies invest her back. They are not public companies. The bike Creighs -- Creighs started in China. In Silicon Valley we realize we need to get on this also. >>> How did it develop into scooters. >> The evolution is that a former employee, CEO of Uber decided to do the Dochler's motorized scooter in Venice and San Diego as well. It seems like it took off. >>> Do you use the motorized scooters the same as you use the yellow and lime bikes? >> They are apt-based programs. Take out your smart phones and put in your credit card numbers. It activates the bike or scooter. You zip a round. -- Around. It charges you a fee based on how long you were writing. >>> Tell me more about what the city Council is considering tomorrow. Is it an outright man? >> Yes they are looking to ban the scooters for Mission Beach. Right now the boardwalk has a speed limit of eight miles an hour. The scooters can go 15. People are flying along the boardwalk. If you walk on the streets downtown or on the boardwalk in Venice or in Mission Beach, you know that people are whizzing by pedestrians. At what can be uncomfortable speeds. >>> Have there been injuries recorded or collisions between writers and pedestrians? >> Yes. A lot of ported accidents have happened. Also Councilwoman Lori Zafft's office has said that they are worried that this is taking away from what the lifeguard should be doing which is watching the ocean. >>> You report that alternative transportation in San Francisco is having trouble with the scooters. What is happening there? >> These things have taken off in Southern California where there is a little bit -- there are more issues with trying to get around. It seems like the scooter is the right mechanism from getting one side of downtown to another. In places like Chicago, San Francisco, where it is more dense, people have been voicing a lot of frustrations. The Board of Supervisors there have been trying to divorce force the scooter company into compliance forcing them to get business licenses. There has been a real public backlash. People are trashing the scooters. It has been heated as far as I can tell more so than here. People do complain in certain communities and have been voicing skepticism and calling for greater regulations, but by and large people seem excited about the new technology. A lot of advocates of public transit feel that this is a great way to solve the first and last mile issue while taking the trolley or Bus. >>> If the issue is the rate of speed that the scooters go, why not put a speed limit on them? >> They do. The speed limit is 15. Originally it had been hired. But when they were first rolled out they were 20, I believe. They lowered it to 15. The idea is that you are supposed to be writing these in the street with traffic. It has to go at a certain speed in order to be efficient and get you where you want to go. Right now, you are not supposed to be writing them on the sidewalk. That is illegal under California law right now. >>> There is an effort to change that state law, isn't that right? >> Yes, that is true. There is a bill in the legislature right now that would regulate these stand up scooters, the dauntless Doc Les scooters like the bikes are regulated. If you're 18 years and older you don't need a helmet and you would be allowed to write the scooters were bikes are allowed on the sidewalk, not everywhere on the sidewalk, in front of businesses is prohibited, but in parks, residential neighborhoods there is more flexibility with where the bikes can go. That would be applied to the scooters as well under the bill. >>> Have you written a scooter, Joshua? >> Yes. When we first started reporting this I hopped on a bird scooter and line bike also has a scooter as well. >>> What was it like? >> My first take on it was the seems like it is something that could catch on. Not only is it efficient in the way you get around, you get around quickly, but also say you are going from a meeting at your downtown office building to lunch. He don't want to ride a bike and get sweaty in your suit but you can be on your standup scooter, not break a sweat, be there in maybe five minutes instead of a 20 minute walk. >>> I have been speaking with San Diego Union Tribune reporter Joshua Smith. Thank you, Joshua. >> Good to be here.

UPDATE: 5:16 p.m., May 22, 2018:

The proposed emergency ban on motorized scooters at the boardwalk in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach failed at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, 6-3. Council President Myrtle Cole and Council Members Chris Ward, Chris Cate, Scott Sherman, David Alvarez and Georgette Gomez voted "no" on the ban.

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Original story:

Motorized scooters may soon be banned from some popular San Diego beaches.

The San Diego City Council will take up an emergency ordinance Tuesday that would prohibit motorized scooters on the boardwalk in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

The council will also consider whether to expand the ordinance to include the boardwalk in La Jolla Shores and Mission Bay Park.

Councilwoman Lori Zapf said she is proposing the ban after a series of collisions between pedestrians and people on scooters. If approved, motorized scooters would be banned from Crystal Pier south to the jetty. Other cities have taken steps to address similar public safety concerns.

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Currently, there's an eight mph speed limit on boardwalks in San Diego. State law prohibits people from riding motorized scooters on sidewalks but a state bill could soon change that.

Joshua Emerson Smith, an environment reporter with The San Diego Union-Tribune, discusses the motorized scooter trend Monday on Midday Edition.