Dockless electric scooters would be allowed to operate in any part of the city under new guidelines approved by a City Council committee Wednesday, although the number of devices on the streets would be controlled and reviewed on a quarterly basis.
The Transportation Committee in May rejected a set of rules that had been proposed by the city’s Department of Transportation, deeming them too restrictive while asking for a new set of guidelines for a potential pilot program.
After being presented with the new standards, the committee approved them, with Councilman Mike Bonin stressing that “these regulations are not going to be final and permanent for all time. This is how Los Angeles is going to start governing dockless. We are a big city, we are a diverse city. We are not Santa Monica, we have lots of different neighborhoods and needs and a lot of different interests to consider.”
Dockless electric scooters are already operating on a limited basis in Venice and around the campus of UCLA. The scooters work through a phone app which allows people to find and unlock the devices and drop them off anywhere they are allowed, with no docking station or kiosk required.
LADOT had originally recommended creating a geo-fence that would limit scooters and dockless bike share companies from operating within a three-mile radius of Los Angeles Metro Bike Share service areas, which would limit their deployment in places like downtown, Venice and San Pedro under the pilot program. The new guidelines fully remove the geo-fence.
The committee in May also asked LADOT to reconsider a cap on operators that would limit them to 2,500 devices in the city, and the new guidelines will allow for a cap of 3,000 devices per provider. Operators will also have the opportunity to add up to 2,500 more devices if they are located in disadvantaged communities, and they can add an additional 5,000 in disadvantaged communities in the San Fernando Valley.
The extra cap space for the Valley was granted to encourage companies to grow there, since other some neighborhoods that would qualify as disadvantaged such as downtown and the Arts District would be more likely to attract investment.
If companies can demonstrate at least three rides per day per device and adhere to all rules and regulations, the general manager of LADOT each quarter can allow for providers to add 5,000 more devices.
Controlling the fleet size will tell people “to get back in your cars and let us start this all over again trying to get you back out of cars,” said David Astrada, who leads government relations with Bird, a dockless scooter company already operating in the city.