La Jolla's Barbara Bry, Mayor Kevin Faulconer pose differing e-scooter rules: Council committee to review the proposals

Within 24 hours of each other, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry issued information about their respective recommendations surrounding motorized, dockless scooters.

The evening of Feb. 6, Mayor Faulconer posted on Twitter: “Next week (Wednesday, Feb. 13) I will unveil regulations for dockless bikes and scooters. My office has been working with stakeholders on a set of common-sense rules focused on speed, parking and staging, rider education, data sharing, liability and fees that will be presented at the City Council’s Feb. 20 Active Transportation & Infrastructure Committee meeting.

“My proposal will set clear rules of the road for dockless scooters that will improve public safety and allow them to integrate more safely and responsibly into our transportation landscape.”

On Feb. 7, Bry issued a memo to the chair of the Active Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, the Mayor, City Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell, and her Council colleagues stating: “In February 2018, dockless bikes and scooters began appearing on the streets of San Diego. A year later, they can be found all over the City. The City has no information on exactly how many there are, where they are, where they go, and how many people, either users or pedestrians, have suffered injuries.

“Other cities have been more proactive in dealing with this new technology, which has great potential to address first mile and last mile transit needs. These companies have raised hundreds of millions of dollars. They are making money using our City’s infrastructure and have only paid for a simple business license. This needs to change in order to ensure that residents and tourists are safe.”

Bry’s proposal references the Mayor’s recommendations to explain how they differ, and notes that both proposals address scooter use in high-pedestrian areas including boardwalks in Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla; the Embarcadero downtown; the promenade behind the San Diego Convention Center, Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade; Balboa Park; NTC Park (Liberty Station); and Mission Bay Park.

While the Mayor’s proposal reportedly incorporates geo-fencing to limit the speed of scooters to 8 miles per hour, Bry’s call for an all-out ban.

“There has been no evidence that slowing scooters down to 8 miles per hour eliminates or negates any safety hazards,” Bry wrote. “Therefore, I recommend that the committee advocate for prohibiting the use of motorized scooters in the (aforementioned) high-pedestrian areas.”

Bry’s other recommendations include the City “mandate percentage distribution of vehicles in certain zones” to promote equitable access in all communities, “develop an effective computerized system to ticket illegally parked dockless bikes and scooters” to encourage enforcement, and recommends the Active Transportation & Infrastructure Committee investigate an appropriate per scooter fee to be paid by the respective companies.

Another area the Mayor and Bry’s regulations reportedly differ is on data sharing. According to Bry’s memo, the Mayor’s recommendation calls for scooter companies to report usage data monthly, whereas Bry’s calls for a third-party aggregator to collect reports as often as possible. And while the Mayor’s recommendations do not include “operational and maintenance requirements,” Bry’s include a multi-point list of requirements, including when scooters should be removed when parked in the right-of-way, listing contact information, customer service point-of-contact, and maintenance.

Lastly, Bry’s memo calls for an effort to amend AB-2989 (which states riders over age 18 do not have to wear a helmet) to require helmet wearing.

“AB-2989 clearly granted local municipalities the authority to determine where scooters could operate, however, it was unclear on whether cities could require helmets on all riders,” she wrote. “Our City’s State Legislative Priorities should include an effort to amend AB-2989 to grant California municipalities the authority to regulate helmets at the local level.”

It is not known whether Bry’s recommendations will be heard during the same meeting at which the Mayor’s proposals will be presented. This story will be updated as details become available.

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