L.A. Imposes Speed Limits, Vehicle Caps on Dockless Scooters

Bird scooter - Getty -H 2018
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The City Council also voted 13-0 to require dockless scooter companies to remove vehicles blocking sidewalks and establish a 24-hour hotline for reporting vehicles and riders infringing on city rules.

In response to growing concern over Bird and Lime scooters, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a new set of regulations that limit the number of the dockless vehicles and crack down on speeding and crowded sidewalks.

The Council voted 13-0 to adopt measures that include a cap of 3,000 vehicles in L.A. except in two areas with pilot programs (District 15 and District 4). The cap may be amended to include 2,500 more vehicles if Bird and Lime operate in disadvantaged communities within the Los Angeles basin, and 5,000 more for disadvantaged communities in the San Fernando Valley.

Other new regulations include a 15 mph speed limit for the scooters and a mandate that companies remove scooters blocking sidewalks, keep scooters in good working condition, pay an annual fee to operate in Los Angeles, carry $5 million in commercial general liability insurance and establish a 24-hour hotline so that pedestrians can report scooters that are infringing on the rules. 

The city will start to institute the rules during a 120-day period, during which time L.A. will issue permits to scooter companies. After that, a one-year pilot period with the regulations will commence. 

“Today is a big day for dockless bikes and scooters in Los Angeles, ensuring not only the safety of riders and other road users, but also for the development of first-last mile option in the City.” Councilmember David Ryu, who introduced the motion to regulate the scooter last fall, said Tuesday in a statement. “The rules approved today reflect a year’s worth of work and careful consideration, and I will be closely monitoring their effectiveness with the Department of Transportation in the weeks and months ahead.”

"The future is here. Los Angeles must create citywide multimodal infrastructure to reduce traffic, link people to public transit, & reduce green house gas emissions," 15th District City Councilman Joe Buscanino tweeted Tuesday. 

The measure follows Santa Monica's new temporary cap on the dockless vehicles: Starting this month, Bird and Lime will be allowed to operate 750 scooters each within the city's limits. A 16-month pilot program is scheduled to start Sept. 17 that will allow the city to monitor the vehicles and develop regulations around them.

In August, Bird and Lime both deactivated their scooters for a day in Santa Monica to protest the city's endorsement of Lyft and the bikeshare program Jump for its 16-month pilot program. The city's endorsement of the scooter companies came weeks later.

Though L.A.'s new regulations require that scooter companies take responsibility for sidewalk crowding, the LAPD has been watching out for riders who are also in the wrong while operating the vehicles. Scooter riders can be warned and cited for failing to obey traffic control signals such as stop signs, tri-lights and movement restrictions, an officer told The Hollywood Reporter in July.