Pacific Palisades residents have noticed a significant increase in the number of dockless Lime and Bird scooters lying on sidewalks the past few months. Teens in the town take advantage of the scooters, driving them about, quite often with a friend aboard. The scooters were initially a one-year pilot program that began in March 2019.
LADOT, in its rules for riding, notes:
1) Users must be 18 years or older and have a valid California Driver’s license.
2) Users are not required to wear a helmet, but it is stronger recommended.
3) Only one person at a time may ride an e-scooter.
4) E-scooters cannot exceed 15 miles per hour.
5) Sidewalk riding is prohibited, and the fine is $197.
Obviously, teens and adults in Pacific Palisades must think these rules don’t apply to them.
In August 2020, on the recommendation of the Public Works & Gang Reduction Committee and the Transportation Committee (chaired by Councilmember Mike Bonin), the one-year pilot program was extended to December 31, 2020.
The program was initially intended to help those in low-income neighborhoods achieve greater mobility, but according to an August Daily News story (“Dockless Scooter, Bike Companies Get 3-month Reprieve from Stricter Regulations in L.A.”), that didn’t happen.
“LADOT originally took a softer approach to regulations in the first year of its ‘micro-mobility’ pilot program, but too few of the companies took advantage of incentives to deploy in low-income neighborhoods and instead oversaturated the streets of Venice, Hollywood and downtown. Residents complained of scooters left haphazardly on sidewalks, tossed in trees and abandoned on private property. Some neighborhoods never saw the vehicles at all.”
According to an August 2019 Downtown Los Angeles story (“State of the Scooters: Six Months Into a Pilot Program, Dockless Vehicles Draw Both Support and Displeasure”), “The greatest number of devices, approximately 7,700, are in Council District 11, which includes Venice. The 14th District, which covers Downtown, ranks fourth, with 3,300 vehicles, though maps that chronicle the density of deployment show that the Central City is among the most packed neighborhoods for the devices.”
“Nearly a quarter of the riders during the pilot program made $100,000 or more a year, according to a one-year review.”
That same review noted that about 85 percent of all citations issued were for riding on the sidewalk. Less than half of the vehicles during the review period were parked correctly.
Bonin’s Palisades-Brentwood Field Deputy Durrah Wanger recently told the Pacific Palisades Community Council, “Scooters are supposed to be parked in the ‘furniture zone’ of the sidewalk, which is the part immediately adjacent to the curb where you would often see things like parking meters, benches, and newspaper racks. They must be parked in a way that leaves maximum clearance for people in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, etc.”
Residents can report improperly parked scooters by calling 311, or by using the myLA311 app or website. Reports will need a photo of the violation and information such as the device ID, if possible. This way there is a record of when and where these issues are happening.
The toughest rules regarding the scooter companies have gone back to LADOT. The industry particularly opposed 1) the requirement to retrofit vehicles to lock to any bike rack; 2) a “per ride” permit fee that charges nothing to operate in economically depressed neighborhoods; and 3) a limited cost to riders to $1.25 and $1.75 in low-income and transportation deficient areas.
According to a May 28, LAist story (“Scooters, Scooters Everywhere. Here’s How LA’s Grand Experiment Is Going”), a UCLA-led January report noted that the most common ride injuries are to the head, that a notable share of the injured are minors and hardly any riders wear helmets.
The report stated, “A Dockless Electric Scooter-Related Injuries study in Austin, Texas, found that 190 people were injured while riding e-scooters over a 3-month period. Nearly half sustained head injuries and 15% suffered a traumatic brain injury. Just one percent of riders were wearing helmets.”
Dockless scooters are illegal in Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood has banned the parking of scooters within city limits, but one is allowed to ride through the city to get somewhere.
Councilman Bonin is chair of the City Council’s transportation committee. Email him about dockless scooters: Mike.Bonin@lacity.org.