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Electric scooter update: Permit caps, feces undermine companies

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City considering capping e-scooters at 2,500 citywide

San Francisco Battles New Electric Scooter Rentals Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At a Wednesday meeting of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Engineering, Maintenance, and Safety Committee, city staff considered a cap on the number of permits issued to electric scooter companies, potentially limiting the app-enabled irritations at 2,500 citywide.

Meanwhile, some San Franciscans are taking the matter into their own hands—along with some decidedly questionable materials, as Motherboard catalogs a number of apparent vandalism efforts against stray scooters, including a Twitter user who discovered a pair of feces-smeared conveyances in SoMa.

It’s not clear whether the fecal offensive was politically motivated or just some of the usual SoMa weirdness, and presumably nobody wants to investigate too closely.

Other maneuvers, such as hurling the scooters into the bay or leaving them dangling from the branches of trees, have already become old hat.

If you must, here’s a photo. Consider yourself warned.

Nevertheless, the hostility on display toward the two-wheeled urban mobility devices is part of what motivated Wednesday’s SFMTA committee hearing, which included a presentation proposing a 24-month pilot program for scooters ,which would issue a total of five permits to operate within the city, each permit capped at 500 scooters allowed.

San Francisco Battles New Electric Scooter Rentals Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For comparison, Bird claims to be operating more than 1,600 scooters at nearly 5,000 rides per day between them all in the city right now. Bird, along with Spin and LimeBike, is one of three companies renting scoots in SF.

In an emailed statement, Bird spokesperson Kenneth Baer said the company hopes to convince the city to instead implement “a dynamic cap that responds to the demand for this type of transportation,” although that sounds like less of a cap at all and more just supply and demand at work.

The permit plan, which goes to the full SFMTA board next week, might still change before any eventual implementation, assuming it’s approved at all.

Scooter companies did get some good news this week, as the new transportation startup Transit announced it will include and aggregate e-scooter companies in its app, allowing users to track where nearby scooters are and how far riders are likely to get on one.