New law bans electric scooters in San Francisco until companies obtain city permits

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ByCarolyn Tyler KGO logo
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
New law bans electric scooters in San Francisco
A new law went into effect in San Francisco banning electric scooters until the rental companies obtain city permits.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new law took effect Monday in San Francisco banning electric scooters until the rental companies obtain city permits.

For the past few weeks they seemed to be everywhere, but as of Monday they are nowhere to be seen.

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The rental companies have been ordered to haul them away until they get an OK from city officials. This comes after numerous complaints of riders illegally on sidewalks and clashing with pedestrians, along with scooters being ditched all over the place. As of last week, the Department of Public Works impounded 503 scooters that were blocking sidewalks or otherwise parked inappropriately. "I've seen them in the most random places from the Land's End nature trail, to mini parking lots outside apartment buildings. That can't continue," San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell said.

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If you've walked the streets of San Francisco recently, you've probably seen them -- motorized scooters parked randomly on the sidewalk.

The companies, Bird, Lime,Spin, and anyone else wanting into the market have until Thursday to apply for a 12-month pilot program administered by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency. "We're all for the spirit of innovation. We want to provide more transportation options for people in San Francisco, but we want to provide these options safely," SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said.

We checked the app for Lime and saw a lot of scooter locations in San Jose, but none in San Francisco. The same goes for Bird because the company didn't seem to have any scooters available in the city.

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To get back in the game, the companies must have a program to educate riders on the rules of the road, offer access to low-income riders and share their data with the city.

Bird released a statement saying, "we are optimistic that SFMTA will work to issue permits as soon as possible to minimize disruption to the tens of thousands of people in San Francisco who have come to depend on Bird"

The city hopes to begin issuing permits by the end of the month. Companies that disobey the law face fines, and having their scooters impounded.