Monday marked the return of app-enabled electric scooters—or “powered scooters,” in the city’s legal parlance—to the streets of San Francisco, and anarchy has not yet overtaken society.
One of the biggest reasons San Franciscans complained about the first scooter uprising was riders’ habit of leaving the two-wheeled devices lying anywhere.
So now a robust SFTMA document titled “Powered Scooter Parking Requirements and General Guidelines” educates scooter permit holders about the enduring mystery of exactly how to park these things without bringing the city to a screeching halt.
1. “Only park on the area of the sidewalk closest to the curb or in specially designated areas such as bike racks.” SFMTA says that curb parkers should line their scooter up with “fixed objects” nearby like trees, trash cans, and oddly enough bike racks—which people should be using to park their scooters anyway, go figure.
2. “Make sure that your scooter is always parked upright.” This sounds like a no-brainer, but photographic evidence shows it’s harder for some than it looks. Do note that, though scooters are designed to be freestanding, they can fall over easily. Hence rule number three.
3. “Ensure that your scooter, [...] if it falls down, does not protrude into the area where pedestrians will walk or roll.”
4. “Do not park at corners, or in front of curb ramps, crosswalks, or anywhere two pedestrians paths intersect.” Note that several more items on this list are simply citing things not to park in front of, but SFMTA puts particular emphasis on the pedestrian paths.
5. “Do not park on narrow sidewalks that are less than nine feet wide (approximately three times the length of one scooter).” Note that under the SF Planning Code only industrial areas and alleys feature sidewalks less than nine inches, so in theory this should be easy.
6. “Do not park against building facades.”
7. “Do not obstruct access to bus stops or areas where riders wait or get on/off the bus; loading zones marked by a yellow or white curb; or blue accessible parking spaces.” For the record, messing with the blue handicap zones leads to the stiffest fines the city can level at you.
8. “Do not obstruct access to fire hydrants or other fire hose access points, emergency exits, or utility boxes.” Blocking a hydrant is a $110 fine for drivers.
9. “Do not park in front of doors, driveways, ramps, stairs, handrails, blocking access to vehicle or bike lanes, near door entry systems, or other access points.” Although a general “don't park in front of things people need” rule seems like it should go without saying, SFMTA is actually even more thorough than that:
10. “Do not park scooters in front of, on top of, or attached to sidewalk amenities and landscaping, such as seating areas, kiosks, ATMs, mailboxes, news racks, trash receptacles, benches, parklets, and planted areas or features, such as tree wells or planting strips.”
Phew, got all that?
Though the list is lengthy, it seems like most people shouldn’t need such specific instruction; however, photographic evidence suggests otherwise.