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Thousands Of Scooters And Bikes Impounded During Comic-Con

Dockless scooters sit in a city of San Diego lot near downtown, July 22, 2019.

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Dockless scooters sit in a city of San Diego lot near downtown, July 22, 2019.

With Comic-Con in San Diego over the weekend, many of its visitors chose to speed through the busy streets on electric scooters and bikes. But by Monday thousands had been impounded by the city.

"There were so many devices converging on downtown — that they were in the way — they were tripping hazards," said Barbara Lamb with the city's environmental services department. "They were blocking the right of way — people couldn’t walk."

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman

The impound lot was overflowing with more than 2,500 scooters and bikes due in part to a new law that bars them from being parked in certain places, like near the convention center where Comic-Con was held.

"They’re supposed to be parked in the parking corrals," Lamb said. "During Comic-Con there was so much traffic — the corrals were full — the sidewalks were full of people. We just needed to keep them moving and clear them out so no one got hurt."

There is also a city code that makes it illegal to leave bikes and scooters on sidewalks.

Reported by Kris Arciaga

RELATED: City Council Approves Regulations For Dockless Scooters, Bikes

Each scooter and bike costs $65 to get out of impound, and the city says on a typical day it impounds a few dozen scooters. But Comic-Con is anything but typical and the companies collectively owe more than $160,000 in fines, according to the city.

Representatives for the scooter company Lime were at the lot Monday grabbing more than 700 of their scooters. City officials said it cost the company $46,000 to reclaim its property. But if the company reps are mad about it, they aren't showing it.

"Honestly the first thing that’s important to me is our riders to be safe," said Lime General Manager Kimia Talebian. "If our riders are blocking the streets I’m so happy that the city was able to get there to pull them off."

The city said it met with the scooter companies before comic-con to remind them of restrictions.

"All the regulations that have been put in place — I agree with them," Talebian said. "I mean you have to remember that I live here — everything that the city is experiencing I experience with them. So I like the new regulation, looking forward with the city to putting more even more regulation."

Talebian added that Lime is working to relay the new regulations to its customers.

"We do a lot of in-app messaging — we do workshops to educate our riders," Talebian said. "If it’s not enough we’ll continue investing until we get there."

The city said the 2,500 impounded bikes and scooters represent about 10% of the registered fleet in San Diego. The companies have 30 days to pick them up or they could be auctioned off.

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Aired: July 23, 2019 | Transcript

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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