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Santa Monica Approves Pilot Program Capping Shared Scooters, Bicycles

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — Santa Monica is cracking down on scooter rental companies, but riders are not ready for these companies to scoot just yet.

As many as 55 people spoke out for and against dockless bike and scooter shares before the Santa Monica City unanimously approved a 16-month pilot program designed to rein in the explosion of the vehicles left scattered throughout the area. The concept allows users to rent a bike or scooter by app, and leave it wherever the user's journey ends, to be retrieved via GPS.

"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," said Mayor Ted Winterer. "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."

Bird Ride was the first to launch in Santa Monica in September, but the small number of scooters has exploded to up to 1,300 in Santa Monica daily, according to a Santa Monica city staff report. Lime also operates dockless bicycles in the city. Both companies have conditional vending permits that are renewed annually.

The glut of dockless bikes has become a major problem in China, where it first started, and other cities across the U.S., including Seattle, Dallas and San Francisco. Additionally, scooters have particularly become a safety issue in Santa Monica because users are riding them in the middle of busy streets, with more than one person, or on sidewalks at high speed.

City staffers have recommended capping the number of bicycles and scooters allowed in the city at 1,500, with the potential of increasing to a maximum of 2,250 of the vehicles during a pilot program through the end of 2019. During this time, the program would also establish minimum operating requirements in terms of maintenance, education and safety.

The pilot kicks off Sept. 17.

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

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