Is the ‘Wild West’ of Scooters Over in San Diego?

by on October 15, 2019 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Scooters in corral on Newport Ave, July 2019. Photo by Steve O.

‘Wild West’ environment may be easing with citations, impounds, and speed curbs

By John Wilkens / San Diego Union-Tribune / Oct. 10, 2019

For more than a year, San Diego was all carrot and no stick when it came to electric scooters. Now the stick is out, hitting both the scooter companies and their riders.

Three months after new city regulations went into effect, two companies, Jump and Skip, have left town. Another, Lime, may lose its permit because of repeated operating infractions. Almost 500 riders received traffic tickets, more than half of them for riding on sidewalks. The city impounded more than 3,700 scooters for parking violations.

The Wild West, it seems, may finally have a sheriff.

It’s too soon to say how effective or long-lasting the crackdown will be, or what it means to the future of dockless scooters here. Depending on the time and place, this can still look like a town that’s been overrun. When the New York Times did a story recently on the situation here it carried this headline: “Welcome to San Diego. Don’t Mind the Scooters.” And when Seattle started pondering how to regulate scooters, a TV station sent a crew here for a “what not to do” piece.

Still, the rules appear to be having an impact. Ridership is down, as measured by average daily trips, from 33,000 in July to 17,000 in the first half of September, according to city data compiled from the rental companies. Fewer scooters are in use, from a daily high in the 15,000 range three months ago to about 10,000 now, officials said.

Some of that may be seasonal, because a significant portion of scooter riders are tourists. Some of it may be the weather, summer turning toward fall and taking hours of sunlight with it. And some of it is the inevitable growing pains of an industry that is barely two years old — a toddler, with all the usual consequences.

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