Scoot cements permanent spot on SF streets

Electric shared moped company Scoot will now become a permanent fixture in San Francisco’s ever-evolving world of shared ride services.

Under a permanent permit program approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors at its Tuesday meeting, Scoot’s 19,000 members will be able to park in residential parking permitted areas, parking in motorcycle stalls for free, and in between metered parallel parking spaces.

In return, Scoot will pay a permit fee of $325 a year for each moped. The company will also have to provide data to the SFMTA in order for the transit agency to address any issues that might arise, said Andy Thornley, a senior analyst with the SFMTA Sustainable Streets Division:

“We’re paying close attention to what we’ve been calling crowding and stagnation. Two things we hear from the public about. Seeing Scoots parked in a certain place and have them sit there for a long time.”

Thornley said the idea of Scoot vehicles sitting around in the same curb spot could be true, but the SFMTA would have a better idea on the movement of Scoot vehicles having the data available.

Another concern from residents is having the vehicles cluster in one neighborhood or just on one block, sad Thornley:

“Having data access is going to be key for us to pay attention to those big concerns.”

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who represents District 1, said she has been hearing from residents on the issue of Scoot vehicles being allowed to use “scrap” parking spaces to park the red mopeds.

Under a trial program in 2015, the SFMTA allowed Scoot members to park in residential parking permitted areas at curb spaces that are 8 feet or less. Some of those curb spaces are between driveways of residents.

Fewer said:

“When we say scrap parking, actually to many people in my district, it is not scrap parking. It is utilized in many different ways.”

Fewer also mentioned Scoot not providing its training videos in other languages.

Board Director Gwyneth Borden said the parking curb space was a “delicate” issue and made a motion to get rid of the 8-feet parking regulation for vehicles, which was part of the proposed permit program.

She also wanted get a six-month report back from staff to see if issues like the clustering of the Scoot mopeds would be resolved. Directors approved the motion with board Director Lee Hsu in dissent.

Other questions directors had was about insurance for its members.

Michael Keating, founder and CEO of Scoot, said the company carries a $1 million insurance policy from a third-party in case a member causes damage to property or injuries another person.

San Francisco resident Jesus Gomez said he had concerns with another ride-sharing company trying to go skirt the rules in The City:

“Just like Lyft and Uber have circumvented our taxi regulations. Now here is another company trying to circumvent existing rules. Let’s stop impacting residents in the rest of The City.”

Thornley said Scoot has been working with the SFMTA and have been good players:

“We’re with them and we’re walking next to them.”

Another issue that directors brought up was safety.

Before anyone can sign up for Scoot, a person must have a valid driver’s license and not have more than one collision or moving violation on their record within the last three years, said Keating.

Potential members also need to take an in-person training session with an instructor for one hour, or watch online safety videos, with quizzes that follow.

Any members who keep breaking laws such as not wearing a helmet, which Keating said he caught and flagged a member down for not wearing a helmet Tuesday morning, could face the potential of Scoot deactivating their account:

“We’re very happy to do it. Safety is the number one thing.”

Keating added that Scoot is working to staff up in order provide language services for Scoot potential members who may not speak English as a first language.

Thornley said the SFMTA plans to issue the permits sometime this summer.