City to limit number of e-bike and scooter operators in San Diego
Speaker 1: (00:00)
You've likely seen electric scooters and bikes for rent somewhere around San Diego. You may have even taken one for a whirl, but did you know there's a permitting system in place that each operator needs to apply for Monday edition producer Emelyn, Mohebi spoke with the city's sustainability and mobility department director, Alyssa Muto about how the city is going to start limiting the number of operators and E devices in the city. Muto starts with the pros and cons of having these electric bikes and scooters for rent.
Speaker 2: (00:31)
So in the city of San Diego, we're really seeking to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in line with our climate action plan, by increasing mobility options, um, mobility options that are green and sustainable, low carbon emitting, and that provide convenient and safe options for people to move around, whether it be for work or for pleasure, or just running down to the store, like many new mobility technologies or devices, there is a learning for, for the users and working with our scooter operators to provide for educational information to users, to adjust speeds on devices for first-time users. Also with the number of scooters that are deployed, we can work with the operators to limit the amount of scooters around town and adjust the deployment to meet the demand and not exceed it. Now operators like bird wheels and Lyft are ramping up their fleets with new devices and more of them.
Speaker 2: (01:36)
How will the city make sure there aren't too many bikes and scooters on the streets? Yes. So right now we are moving forward with our first request for proposals, for scooter operations within the city of San Diego. Previously, we have been under a permit process where our development services take in applications on a biannual basis. So that's in January and in June from as many operators who are interested in operating in the city of San Diego for as many devices as they would like to deploy. Usually they make those decisions based on market demand and utilization. Under the RFP, we will limit the amount of operators from unlimited to two to four operators and a maximum number of scooters of 8,000 scooters within the city of San Diego. And currently which companies have scooters and bikes are permitted in the city. Presently, we have six operators operating within the city of San Diego.
Speaker 2: (02:37)
We have bird lift, lime link VO and wheels. And are they spread out or are they more clustered in certain areas? We tend to see scooter and bike deployment in specific areas of the city, usually where we have, um, a lot of employment. So in the downtown area, as well as recreation along the beach areas from ocean beach up to LA Jolla and then in and around our universities. So near USC, UCLA and San Diego state. Now speaking of university scooters were previously banned on the SDSU campus, but they're now back can certain areas in the city like on the SDSU campus set their own rules for the scooters and bikes, San Diego state, uh, university of California, San Diego can both set their own rules on campus for how maybe they geo-fence or if they prohibit them on campus. However, the utilization of scooters within the city of San Diego originates in our permitting process, as it's kind of difficult to restrict operations between the university property and the adjacent city property.
Speaker 2: (03:48)
Um, so we expect that if a scooter or bike operator is on a university campus, that they are fully permitted within the city of San Diego, why did the city decide to limit the number of companies and east scooters and bikes? The city did a comprehensive analysis of over 35 cities across the nation to better understand what shared mobility device programs look in other cities, how we could learn from other practices, uh, where enforcement or operations or even technology, um, is different than what we have here in the city of San Diego. So in the city of San Diego, we identified having two to four operators as being the optimal arrangement for our city to give us the opportunity to have competition and technology and rates as well as an equity programs, and then to provide for partnerships that will allow us to have better transparency and data management of the scooter operators, citywide.
Speaker 2: (04:52)
We saw fewer scooters on the street during the pandemic, and we're now seeing them coming back again. Do you foresee demand for east scooters e-bikes increasing going forward? Yes. We definitely saw a contraction of operations, um, both from users and from the scooter operators, but we've also seen that demand jump right back where it was before the pandemic. And I anticipate given the popularity and demand for e-bikes and the marketplace personal e-bikes that we will continue to see the demand increase as we start to see a mixed fleet of bikes and scooters and other mobility technology
Speaker 1: (05:32)
That was Alyssa Muto the city of San Diego sustainability and mobility department director speaking with midday, addition, producer Emelyn Mohebi.
Electric scooters and bikes are available for rent around San Diego for people to use for transportation or even just a leisurely ride around town. But in order for those devices to be offered for rent, each operator had to apply for a permit.
If an operator fulfilled all the requirements, they were issued a permit. But recently, the city decided to change the process and limit the number of operators and devices in an effort to better serve the community.
KPBS Midday Edition Producer Emilyn Mohebbi spoke with the city of San Diego's Sustainability and Mobility Department director Alyssa Muto about how the city will go about doing that.
"We are moving forward with our first request for proposals for scooter operations within the city of San Diego," Muto said. "Under the RFP, we will limit the amount of operators from unlimited, to two to four operators, and a maximum number of 8,000 scooters within the city of San Diego."
Muto said the city did a comprehensive analysis of 35 cities across the nation before deciding how San Diego would permit shared mobility device operators.
"In the city of San Diego, we identified having two to four operators as being the optimal arrangement for our city to give us the opportunity to have competition, (with) technology and rates, as well as an equity program, and to provide for partnerships to allow us to have better transparency and data management of the scooter operators citywide," Muto said.
There are currently seven operators within the city of San Diego. Those include Bird, Lime, Link, Lyft, Spin, Veo and Wheels.