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Dockless Scooter Regulations Take Effect In San Diego

A group of Bird scooters parked at San Diego State University, June 2019.

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: A group of Bird scooters parked at San Diego State University, June 2019.

Local regulations for dockless scooters and bicycles went into effect Monday, limiting parking and speeds in certain areas around the city of San Diego.

The scooters and bikes began appearing around the city early last year, and the San Diego City Council unanimously approved the regulatory package in April. Mayor Kevin Faulconer first proposed a regulatory framework last October.

The regulations include multiple changes to how dockless scooter companies like Bird and Lime can operate within city limits. Scooter companies are now required to obtain a six-month operational permit with a fee of roughly $5,000 and pay $150 per scooter or bike each year.

Companies will also be required to disclose the size of their dockless scooter and bike fleets and can only negotiate changes to their fleets in January or July. They will also be able to increase fleet sizes by 20% for up to 10 days for $15 per scooter, per day, to accommodate large events like Comic-Con.

"We will begin accepting applications today from qualified shared mobility device operators," said Elyse Lowe, the city's director of department services. "The city looks forward to ongoing engagement from the operators to discuss and evaluate their efforts to ensure safe sidewalk conditions for pedestrians, and compliance with the city's requirements."

The city has received permit applications from six dockless scooter and bike companies so far and expects to begin approving them Tuesday. The names of the six companies were not immediately available, according to a city spokesman.

Scooter speeds will be limited in multiple areas of the city using geofencing technology. Lime and Bird have used geofencing for months to reduce scooter speeds in places like the Santa Monica beach bike path.

Photo credit: Renata L. Brandão

Dockless scooters are parked by Horton Plaza, downtown, May 30, 2018.

RELATED: City Council Approves Regulations For Dockless Scooters, Bikes

Dockless scooter speeds will be reduced from 15 mph to 8 mph in designated high-traffic areas like Spanish Landing, the perimeter of Petco Park and boardwalks in the city's beach areas. Scooter speeds will also be reduced to 3 mph along the Embarcadero and the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade.

The city could seek further amendments to the regulations in the coming months to ban the use of scooters on city boardwalks and designate more locations as 8 mph and 3 mph zones. City Council members Jennifer Campbell and Barbara Bry, whose districts include many of the city's beach communities, said they would be in favor of a full ban on the city's boardwalks.

Scooter company representatives largely approved of the regulations when the council considered them in April, expressing an interest in collaborating with the city to decrease car usage and carbon emissions. Local transit advocates and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce also approved.

RELATED: Disability Lawsuit Targets San Diego Over Dockless Scooters

Some residents wanted the scooters banned outright and argued they present a public safety hazard when ridden on the sidewalk. Opponents also suggested the city is responsible for the injuries and deaths that have occurred as a result of scooter-related incidents.

The city protected itself against such liability by including an indemnification clause in the regulations, requiring the companies to maintain liability insurance of up to $2 million per accident and $4 million aggregate.

The city expects to generate $2.4 million in revenue from scooter permits and per-device fees, most of which will be used to enforce the regulations. City officials indicated in April that the San Diego Police Department will be paid overtime to enforce the new regulations using revenue from the permits and fees.

Going forward, residents will be able to view which dockless scooter and bike companies operate in San Diego here. Residents will also have access to company contact information, the city's regulations and a description of what each company's scooters and bikes look like.

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Aired: July 3, 2019 | Transcript

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