San Francisco says goodbye to electric scooters, for now


Three scooter companies invaded the streets of San Francisco at the end of March.

James Martin / CNET

San Francisco gave the three electric scooter companies that have come to the city an ultimatum: take their vehicles off the streets of the city until they are granted a permit, or.

The warning comes when the city's legislators have been fined by fine-tuning their new law that regulates scooters without cover on demand. The city announced on Thursday that the law will go into effect on June 4 and any company wishing to operate in San Francisco must apply for a permit.

City representatives said it would take a few weeks to process permit applications. If any of the companies placed their scooters on the street during that interim period, the city said it will confiscate the vehicles, fine the company with $ 100 per scooter per day and deny the company any type of permit.

"San Francisco supports innovation in transportation, but it can not be at the expense of public safety," San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. "This permit program represents a thoughtful, coordinated and effective approach to ensure that San Francisco achieves the right balance."

San Francisco has seen a free scooter for everyone in the last two months. Three companies – Bird, Lime and Spin – downloaded their leaseable e-scooters throughout the city in March and, almost instantly, hundreds of scooters invaded the sidewalks. Residents complained that the riders did not follow the laws of the road and endangered pedestrians riding on the sidewalks and leaving the scooters where they wanted, blocking parking places, bicycle parking and wheelchair access.

The three companies say that we are solving a "last mile" transportation problem, which offers travelers an easy and convenient way to get around the city while helping alleviate street congestion and smog. Both Bird and Lime said they are requesting permission from San Francisco. Spin did not return the request for comments.

"We are excited to apply for a permit and will comply with the city's request that all electric scooters be removed by June 4," a Lime spokesman said. "We recognize that there is still a learning curve for many riders and we will use the time our scooters are off the streets to further promote driver safety and proper parking in the community."

Bird did not say explicitly if he would eliminate all his scooters from the streets of San Francisco.

"In a short time, tens of thousands of San Francisco residents have traveled more than 100,000 miles in Birds," said Bird spokesman Kenneth Baer. "The demand for a way to get around San Francisco that does not add to congestion or carbon emissions is clear, and we look forward to meeting it in the coming days."

The scooter law of San Francisco was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on April 24. It will be a 12-month pilot program for the city to see if scooters serve the public interest. Under the program, up to five companies can apply for permits. A total of 1,250 scooters can be allowed in the first six months. If that number of scooters works, the limit could increase to 2,500.

In order to obtain the permits, each company must demonstrate that it will provide user education on walks and sidewalk parking, it will be insured and will have a privacy policy to protect users information. Companies also need to share travel data with the city and offer a plan for low-income riders.

"San Francisco is a vibrant and congested city, and this pilot will demonstrate whether these common-sense regulations address our concerns about the proliferation of motorized scooters," said San Francisco Director of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru. "We must make sure our sidewalks are safe and accessible for pedestrians."

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