SANTA MONICA—Motorized scooter customers gathered outside Santa Monica City Hall in response to the city’s recommendation of Lyft and Uber-owned Jump over Bird and Lime for its scooter pilot program on Tuesday, August 14.
The electric scooter companies created the campaign, “Day Without A Scooter,” asking users to rally, show support and speak at the Santa Monica City Council meeting later in the evening. Bird published on its website a call to action explaining to its users the city’s decision and the campaign’s goal.
“They want to give the entire e-scooter sharing business to car-based rideshare corporations,” read a statement from Bird’s website. “Please let city leaders know how much you have come to depend on Bird, and how you would feel if you woke up one day and Bird was gone –– because they decided two car-based rideshare corporations should own all Santa Monica Transportation.”
On August 10, the city of Santa Monica revealed that the ride-sharing programs, both of which do yet not operate scooters or bikes, submitted the highest scoring applications. A selection committee comprised of city staffers and a representative from the Santa Monica Police Department scored the 18 applications, from 13 different operators, on seven categories including public safety, operations, parking and experience.
According to Los Angeles Times, Bird and Lime performed poorly in the law compliance and public education categories.
As stated on the city of Santa Monica official Selection Committee Recommendation file, Lyft and Jump scooters scored a total of 312 and 307 points respectively, while Lime scored 242 points and Bird 220 points.
“Program operators should be prepared to actively engage with City staff to resolve issues and to develop solutions to improve system performance throughout the duration of the Pilot,” read the recommendation file. “Operators will be responsible for clearly communicating with the city, promptly responding to city inquires and requests, addressing public complaints, and resolving any operational issues that may arise.”
Applicant scoring was based on criteria in the Request for Applications (RFA). The RFA was created by City Council direction at the June 12 meeting.
During the June 12 meeting, Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer said, “There’s no denying the popularity and ease of shared mobility devices that can help Santa Monica reach its goal of being a multi-modal city.”
“Yet we must balance that with a serious need to hold companies accountable to ensure responsible behavior on our streets and sidewalks. This pilot approach will allow us to understand usage and operations in order to create a long-term program that establishes a safe, equitable and sustainable mobility option in Santa Monica,” Winterer added.
In December 2017, Bird faced criminal charges against the city of Santa Monica for not have the proper permits to operate within city limits.
Residents have complained about the safety hazards that electric scooters have caused in the city including: riders riding on public sidewalks instead of on bike lanes, riders riding without a helmet, scooters blocking door ramps and ADA access, as well as scooters being improperly parked. According to city date record, police officers issued several citations to scooter users for violating safety hazards.
The 16-month pilot program, which will start on September 17, seeks to diversify mobility options for residents, employees and visitors; reduce emissions from short trips and connections to transit and more. Selected scooter and bike companies will have to apply for a city permit, pay a $20,000 annual operator fee, and an additional $130 per vehicle each year. The program will limit companies to a total of 1,500 rental scooters.
Bird and Lime are able to still continue operation in the city of Santa Monica until September 16 with their current permits.
Santa Monica’s Planning and Community Development Director David Martin will make the final decision by Thursday, August 30. Public comment is available until Friday, August 17, 2018 at 2 p.m. To comment email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Shared Mobility Pilot Program” in the subject line.
Written By Alexandra Del Rosario and Donald Roberts