San Diego’s ‘Crackdown’ on Scooters Has Dropped Use by 80% and Caused 3 of 4 Companies to Leave Town

by on September 18, 2023 · 15 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By David Garrick / San Diego Union-Tribune / Sept. 16, 2023

San Diego’s year-old crackdown on electric scooters has had the unintended consequence of shrinking usage by 80 percent and prompting three of the four companies with city scooter contracts to cease local operations.

The number of annual rides since the new rules were approved in August 2022 plummeted from 3 million to 595,000 and Spin, Lime and Link have all left town, leaving Bird as San Diego’s lone scooter company.

Critics say a convenient new technology that had been available in most San Diego neighborhoods has become harder to find and more expensive, jeopardizing city efforts to fight climate change with alternative ways to commute.

City officials concede the sharp reduction in scooters is much larger than anticipated under the new rules, which mandate a version of sidewalk speed throttling that isn’t required anywhere else in the world. But they told the City Council’s infrastructure committee this week that there are other factors. Many people have bought personal scooters in lieu of renting them, and neighborhood shuttles in Pacific Beach and downtown have made scooters less needed, they said.

In addition, scooter companies have been scared off by rising thefts of their devices, city officials said. Officials said that problem is particularly bad in San Diego because of its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris September 18, 2023 at 12:03 pm

As much as I am not a big fan of the scooters, I agree this has gone too far. Just cuz I and others don’t and like them does not mean it should have come to this. Yes they can be dangerous but other cities seem to have found a happy medium.


Debbie September 18, 2023 at 12:25 pm

Sidewalks are for walking. Hasta la vista, scooters.


Chris September 18, 2023 at 12:43 pm

Sidewalks are for walking but perhaps a compromise would be for scooters to be ridden in the same manor as bikes? To simply say Hasta la vista is a bit selfish on y our part.


Sorry not Sorry September 19, 2023 at 5:09 am

With all due respect Chris. You often take the same approach when it comes to bike lanes and parking spots.


Chris September 19, 2023 at 6:30 am

What’s wrong with that?


Sorry not Sorry September 19, 2023 at 7:57 am

It is hypocritical to criticize Debbie for being “a bit selfish” when you do the exact same thing, repeatedly. Just sayin’.


Chris September 19, 2023 at 8:16 am

I can actually understand that. A big difference tho is I’ve never advocated for banning and eliminating cars, only making the city less car dependent which yes means some reduced parking. Also I agree with her about scooters on the sidewalk.


Sorry not Sorry September 19, 2023 at 8:29 am

Well, without clarification from Debbie, one could also assume she meant “Hasta la vista” to scooters on the sidewalk and not entirely. Regardless, I was only pointing out the fact that at times you have the same point of view. I just didn’t think it was fair to criticize her for something you also do.


Debbie September 19, 2023 at 9:17 am

I will clarify that I meant bye to scooters on sidewalks and not to say bye entirely to scooters. Motorized anything other than a wheelchair should ride in the bike lanes (IMO). Require safety standards for users such as helmets, lights and whatever else to help keep people safe. The more users in the bike lane “might” encourage the city to keep these lanes free of debris, weeds etc. because some/many are a mess.


Chris September 19, 2023 at 9:28 am

Fair. I retract my statement.


Chris September 19, 2023 at 9:29 am

And apologize.


Debbie September 19, 2023 at 9:44 am

Goodness – terrible misspelled words etc. by me, sorry – Frank can you add Grammarly? :-)


Louisa September 18, 2023 at 2:25 pm

On a recent visit to Stockholm, we found that scooters are a major part of the city’s transportation. Each time we Google Mapped how to get somewhere within the city center via public transport, we got the suggestion of using a scooter and information on how many hundreds of charged scooters were available within meters of our current location. So cool!

We skipped the scooters because we preferred the robust public ferry system which was included in our daily transit passes.

You really get a sense of how bad it is here when you visit a city of similar size that has done SO MUCH better despite some real challenges. (City of Stockholm is built on a series of islands but still manages to have a subway system, bike infrastructure, rental scooters/bikes, buses, and yes, ferries.)


Vern September 18, 2023 at 3:15 pm

Free scooter removal service for private property owners/managers in San Diego and Los Angeles. 858-262-1912 |


kh September 19, 2023 at 11:28 am

I’m really surprised any have lasted this long.

The scooters were never part of any environmental movement. By and large they were toys for tourists, and they replaced walking. This is blatantly obvious when you see where they were deployed. And frankly they’re dangerous. I say that based on my experience riding them on occasion. And I do plenty of other dangerous activities, so I’m not exactly typing this from my bubble wrapped basement.


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