Bad Break for Scooter Rental Company in its Hometown

Years before there was e-scooter-share, there was electric (Vespa-like) scooter-share in San Francisco by start-up Scoot. Now that they are ready to launch electric bikeshare, the city won't let them, unlike Barcelona, Spain where it began service.

May 31, 2018, 2:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Long before Lime, Bird, and Spin began permitless operations of e-scooters in San Francisco in late March, Scoot was renting, via an app, their Vespa-like electric scooters (also called mopeds due to top speeds of 30 miles per hour) that come equipped with two helmets and are ridden exclusively on streets. 

"Scoot helped craft its own permit before starting moped service in San Francisco [in September 2012] and pays the city for parking rights," reports Carolyn Said for the San Francisco Chronicle on May 30. "Although mopeds can legally be parked on sidewalks, it specifically refuses to so that the bikes won’t block or annoy pedestrians."

Now that it's ready to launch its newest shared mobility service, electric bikes, San Francisco won't let them, at least not until next summer. "Only Jump Bikes, which was recently acquired by Uber, has permission to offer dockless e-bikes in the city under an 18-month trial program," adds Said.

[The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] said Jump was the only company to fully complete an application for dockless e-bikes, after the application was posted in June 2017. The MTA decided to give Jump an 18-month permit as a pilot to “evaluate, collect data and assess whether further increases would serve the public interest,” said spokesman Paul Rose.

Perhaps there is some irony in that the company's e-bikes will be launched on the other side of the pond in Barcelona, Spain, Scoot's first expansion outside of San Francisco, reports Megan Rose Dickey for TechCrunch on May 30.

Scoot will deploy 1,000 bicycles that can lock to bike racks and other city infrastructure. Scoot also will deploy 500 electric scooters, designed by Silence. These mopeds are designed to not only drive faster [up to 60 mph], but also be more durable and carry up to two people. But Scoot won’t be the only shared electric moped and bicycle service in Barcelona. Instead, it will join the likes of [electric] moped startups Yugo [no, not that Yugo] and eCooltra, and bike-share startup Bicing.

A "community benefit" that Scoot is offering San Francisco as an incentive to operate its new e-bikes is one that would benefit all bike riders, more bike racks. Like Jump Bikes, Scoot's will come equipped with a U-lock, requiring that it be locked to a pole or rack and not left helter-skelter, a major problem that developed with dockless e-scooters in San Francisco and dockless bicycles in other cities.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 in San Francisco Chronicle

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