Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

City May Allow Electric Scooters to be Parked on Sidewalks Lawfully

The latest in a series of controversies concerning the tiny electric motor transports

The City Council is considering amending the municipal code to allow scooters to be parked on City sidewalks.

At its June 12th meeting, the Council will consider an amendment to the code. As part of overall mandates, Santa Monica encourages electric and other less polluting transportation alternatives.

As a practical matter, many riders who rent scooters from Bird, Lime and other purveyors, leave the vehicles on sidewalks, where the next rider finds them.

While the scooters are popular with residents and tourists, not everyone loves the tiny electric vehicles.

"If we don't want to wake up to find scooters and bikes tossed in our driveways, we have to come out en mass and tell  the Council that it is not in the "best interest" of the city to give this kind of license to private operators.  It would also set a precedent.  How then could the city legally forbid any vendor from using the sidewalks? Santa Monica would look like a Middle Eastern bazaar," wrote local resident Harriet Epstein, in an e mail encouraging residents to attend the meeting and oppose the proposed change.

Bird scooters chirp, hence the name. The electric scooters, while popular and fun, have hardly arrived without controversy. The Bird company began distributing them without any authorization from the City. After a lawsuit, Bird paid $112,000 in fines and agreed to obtain the necessary permits.

In April, the rider of a Bird Scooter was hit by a car and seriously injured, on the corner of Washington and 9th Street in Santa Monica.

Disclosure: The author of this article regularly rents and rides Bird scooters.


Reader Comments(3)

notabirdbrain writes:

yet again I get dinged from a bird rider on the sidewalk TO GET OUT OF HER WAY she said thank you as I was telling her she can't ride on the sidewalk but she had ear buds in and just kept going. I thought I read they have to agree to these rules before renting on.

ProfClearhead writes:

Sorry - forgot something: The article's author neglected to mention that the injured Bird operator had illegally entered said intersection when hit by the auto. Illegal operation is the rule, not the exception, with Bird riders. Appropriate training and regulation needs to implemented on the state level.

ProfClearhead writes:

$300,000 was the previously reported penalty/fine figure. Did the SM government negotiate it down after the fact? Pending state legislation also proposed to allow Birds on sidewalks. It's important that, particularly in these days of heightened community involvement, you tell your state reps how to craft proper legislation. If you don't, you'll get the government you deserve. If you do, you might get the government you expect.