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A Kinder and Gentler Approach to Scooters
The city of Santa Monica has rendered a decision about the future of dockless scooters in the beachfront community—and gone a slightly different way than some of the more draconian approaches of cities like San Francisco and Austin.
Melissa Etehad and Tracey Lien report on the proceedings of a City Council meeting earlier this week resulting in a 16-month pilot program "that will allow electric-scooter and electric-bike rental companies to continue operating in the city." The city is presenting the pilot program as "a fact-finding mission to help the city craft longer-term regulations."
"Under Santa Monica’s pilot program, electric-scooter and electric-bike companies will have to apply for a permit and pay an annual fee of $20,000 and a per-device fee of $130," Etehad and Lien explain of the terms of the pilot program.
Companies that receive permits will also have to agree to create interactive safety education for riders, such as sending push notifications to customers’ phones to tell them if they have been riding unsafely. They’ll also have to share real-time data with the city; ensure that their scooters are evenly distributed throughout the city; establish a 24-hour hotline to field complaints; and make sure that improperly parked scooters are promptly moved.
On the important question of whether the city should cap the number of scooters companies are allowed to operate in the city, the article explains that decision was made not to limit the number to avoid the possibility that companies would saturate more dense parts of the city, leaving under-serve neighborhoods without the potential mobility benefit of the scooters.