A Los Angeles City Council committee recommended Wednesday that the top speed of dockless electric scooters used in the city be capped at 15 mph, not 12 mph as a different committee had suggested.
The move came as the city grapples with a series of potential regulations for the devices, which have proliferated over the last year in Westside communities and other areas.
Acting at the request of City Councilman Mike Bonin, the Transportation Committee last week recommended that the top speed of all scooters be capped at 12 mph. Bonin, who chairs the committee, said he heard some companies were looking to increase the speed of scooters to attract riders in the competitive market.
But on Wednesday, the council’s Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee recommend a top speed of 15 mph, which is what the Los Angeles Department of Transportation had originally recommended.
“I do have concerns about the limitations of a 12 mile per hour speed limit. I don’t know that that is really conducive, given what I think is potentially average bike speeds,” Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said.
Lime, one of the major companies operating scooters in Los Angeles and other Westside communities, says on its website that its scooters have a top speed of 14.8 mph. Bird, another major company operating scooters on the Westside, did not respond to a request to comment, but Bonin said he believed their top speed was 15 mph.
“We support regulations that put rider safety first, but urge the City Council to reconsider implementing a speed cap on scooters as it places a one-size-fits-all framework without considering other varying factors like topographies (hills, flat streets, etc.) and neighborhood speed limits,” Mary Caroline Pruitt, a communications manager for Lime, told City News Service in an email last week. “More importantly, by slowing traffic, the proposed regulation would increase safety concerns. An average cyclist bikes at a speed of 15-20 mph, so imposing a scooter speed cap of 12 mph would disrupt the flow of traffic in bike lanes and streets, which could cause safety hazards.”
The conflicting recommendations will now go to the full City Council, which will have to decide on a speed cap and a number of other potential regulations for the industry.
The scooters work through a phone app that allows people to find and unlock the devices and drop them off anywhere they are allowed, with no docking station or kiosk required.
The city of Beverly Hills recently enacted a six-month ban on electric scooters, and L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, who is on the Transportation Committee, recently introduced a motion to ban electric scooters in Los Angeles until the city passes a set of regulations governing their use.
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