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SF orders scooters off sidewalks and streets until city selects permit holders

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“San Francisco supports transportation innovation, but it cannot come at the price of public safety”

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

In an effort to regulate electronic scooters—heard of ’em?—San Francisco will soon demand the three major e-scooter rental companies (Bird, LimeBike, and Spin) to move their two-wheeled devices off city sidewalks starting June 4 and not resume renting until permits are issued.

Even if a company has applied for a permit, they still must pull devices off streets and sidewalks—or else. If a company fails to do so, they don’t get a permit, period.

Shared powered scooters found on city streets or sidewalks after the June 4 deadline will be subject to impounding and the companies will be fined $100 per scooter per day.

“San Francisco supports transportation innovation, but it cannot come at the price of public safety,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “This permit program represents a thoughtful, coordinated and effective approach to ensure that San Francisco strikes the right balance. We can have innovation, but it must keep our sidewalks safe and accessible for all pedestrians. We can have convenience, but it can’t sacrifice privacy and equity along the way.”

In response to this news, Lime spokesman Joe Arellano said his company was downright elated with the news.

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

“We are excited to apply for a permit and will comply with the city’s request that all electric scooters be removed by June 4,” said Arellano in a press release. “We recognize there is still a learning curve for many riders and will use the time our scooters are off the streets to further promote rider safety and proper parking in the community, as well as local hiring, with the help of our San Francisco partners.”

Scooter companies have until June 7 to apply with a $5,000 fee for SFMTA’s Powered Scooter Share Permit Program. The permit fee will run $25,000. Permitted electric scooter companies must then pony up an additional $10,000 for related costs.

As part of the permit program, companies will share rider data with the city, demonstrate how to keep scooter riders off sidewalks, and offer plans for low-income riders.

While many San Francisco denizens derided the electric scooters, which seemingly appeared overnight in early April, many have come not only to enjoy the whimsical devices but see them as convenient methods of short-distance transportation.

“This program is a strong step forward,” adds Herrera. “It provides the framework to ensure that companies operating in the public right of way are doing so lawfully and are accountable for their products.”