Street Life Is Coming Back to San Diego and So Are the Scooters and Their Critics

by on February 23, 2022 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Sheila Pell /’ San Diego Reader / Feb. 22, 2022

Street life is coming back, and with it, scooter critics.

Motorized scooters are often touted as a first or last mile link in the transit chain, and the city counts them among its mobility choices – but some say they’re making it harder for others to get around.

Last month, 561 complaints about scooters were lodged with the city’s Get It Done app for sidewalk blocking and other misuse. The previous January, mid-pandemic, there were only 263 reports.

The Active Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week approved its 2022 Work Plan, which will include an update to the regulations for “shared dockless mobility devices,” as motorized scooters are called.

Safety advocates are asking for changes to the city code, mainly to address lax enforcement.

Six scooter companies are now operating in San Diego (Bird, Link, Lyft, Spin, Veo, and Wheels), but a shift in the process of selecting them is underway. Rather than facing an unlimited number of applicants every two years, the city plans to negotiate individual contracts with just four companies.

By using a request-for-proposals process, the city can choose companies based on how they would oversee riders, for one. The change is meant “to ensure operators and riders are safe, compliant and maximizing community benefit.”

The city’s RFP (request for proposal) requires companies to use technology to ensure scooters aren’t driven on sidewalks. It limits the number of devices to a maximum of 8,000, aims to expand distribution of devices throughout the city, integrated with the public transit system, and serve under-served areas.

Scooter complaint, Presidents Way, February 21
Safe Walkways, a group of downtown and beach area neighbors that formed in 2018 to fight for their safe share of the increasingly hectic sidewalks and plazas, supports the new method.

“Some elements of the RFP appear to deal with major problems,” they said, like the citywide requirement that scooters be parked and staged in the street, not on sidewalks. But they oppose any loosening of city oversight to allow companies to “self manage.”

Currently, city rules bar scooters from blocking traffic lanes and sidewalks. They may be parked on sidewalks in allowed zones where they don’t block pedestrians, aren’t on the same block as a shared mobility device corral (where they are supposed to park), and are no closer than 40 feet of another corral on a city sidewalk.

Where there is no corral in allowed zones, up to four devices can be parked together no more than a foot apart. Complaints show they sometimes overflow, described as “messy” in reports.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Vern February 23, 2022 at 10:58 am

Scoot Scoop!
Free scooter removal service for private property owners/managers in San Diego.


Geoff Page February 23, 2022 at 12:20 pm

I am constantly pulling these goddamned things off of sidewalks in my area. The lack of consideration for others in the world today is astounding.


Tessa February 24, 2022 at 9:08 am

I consider myself a relatively mellow and peace-loving soul, but when I see the scooters scattered this way and that, and when I try to share space with them – on my trike on in my car – I view them as a reckless wild card and have had several close calls with them. Boo, hiss, they need to go away.


Geoff Page February 24, 2022 at 11:37 am

Tessa, being mellow and peace-loving are admirable traits. But it doesn’t mean we’re undisturbed by everything, just more things than most folks.


Chris February 24, 2022 at 12:01 pm

The people who use them are blissfully zipping around without a care in the world about any negative impact they have on others and when that’s pointed out to them, the reaction is just a shrug of indifference. In all honesty I don’t have leg to stand on because I’ve been “that guy” who has held up traffic on my bike.


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