Yesterday, the City Council adopted formal regulations for a pilot program that creates rules and regulations for operators of electric scooter and bikeshare systems across Los Angeles. Except for a limited bikeshare pilot at Cal State Northridge, the West Valley hasn’t seen many of these vehicles, but that could change in the near future. Dockless scooters, as well as electric and pedal bikes, can be a game changer by providing alternatives to driving for short, local trips and enhancing connections to the Orange Line and other transit. While Los Angeles needs to embrace more mobility options, it must also work to ensure the safety of riders and pedestrians.
As Chair of the Public Works Committee, I (and my staff) spend many hours working to craft a sensible set of regulations. In recent months, two companies have flooded the Westside with thousands of scooters; I worked to ensure that companies that are playing by the rules and waiting for the City to act are not boxed out of markets but are able to obtain temporary permits. In addition, the program includes the following important elements:
• Parking: Operators must respond to complaints of improperly parked devices within 2 hours. Residents will be able to create a service request using the MyLA311 app or the 3-1-1 system. Operators that don’t respond to complaints in a timely manner can have their permits revoked; and the City will impound devices.
• Fleet Size: Initially, operators must have at least 500, but no more than 3,000 devices. In order to increase that number, operators must provide service in disadvantaged communities, establish a need for more devices based on existing ridership, and have a good track record.
•Fees: Companies must pay $20,000 for an annual permit, plus $130 per year per device ($39 in disadvantaged communities).
• Liability: Operators must carry $5 million in liability coverage, and agree to indemnify the City in the case of a lawsuit. I am working with the City Attorney to ensure that language is as strong as possible, to limit the City’s exposure.
Depending on the number of operators and devices, the program could generate about $10 million per year, which can be used to enforce regulations, cover liabilities, and administer the program. Excess funds can be used to make our streets and sidewalks safer and more accessibility. In addition, the technology in these devices is advancing rapidly, which will make it easier to ensure that devices are parked properly and operated safely.