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LA City Council Approves Cap On Electric Scooters

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday approved a series of regulations for a new one-year pilot program for the dockless electric scooters which have sparked controversy across the region.

LA City Council Approves Electric Scooter Pilot Program
Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino rides an electric scooter. Sept. 4, 2018. (CBS2)

The council voted unanimously to approve a cap of 3,000 motorized scooters per company within the city of Los Angeles. Companies can later apply for more scooters if they agree to place them in lower-income communities.

LA City Council Votes in Favor of Electric Scooter Ordinance

The pilot program will begin within 120 days, and in the interim, companies can apply for a conditional use permit for up to 3,000 devices.

"If we're gonna address the traffic issue in our city, we need to embrace traffic solutions, live in a multi-modal city," L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino told reporters Tuesday after riding into City Hall on a scooter.

The four major scooter companies are Lime, Byrd, Lyft and Jump, which is owned by Uber. 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 council also approved a top speed of the scooters of 15 mph, which is the speed already offered by Bird and Lime. The new regulations require companies to equip the scooters with a minimum 48-point font warning against riding on sidewalks. Companies also must maintain a 24-hour hotline and respond to improperly parked or inoperable devices within two hours.

The burgeoning scooter industry has been met with both enthusiasm and disapproval. Proponents argue they are an environmentally friendly mode of transportation which reduce traffic congestion, while opponents claim that they are a safety hazard which clutter up public right-of-ways by careless users illegally riding them on sidewalks and without helmets.

In July, the controversy prompted the city of Beverly Hills to ban the scooters for six months pending new regulations.

Last week, the city of Santa Monica approved a 16-month pilot program for the big four scooter companies. Each company will be limited to operating a combined 750 scooters and e-bikes across the city. The city council also tacked on a $1 ride away fee per device to help pay for sidewalks, green lanes and other improvements.

Back in March, Santa Monica approved impound fees for companies when their scooters are left in obstructive places.

Also in July, Bird launched its scooter service in Culver City with about 100 scooters at 50 locations.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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