San Francisco was decked out in green on Saturday celebrating St. Patrick’s Day during the annual parade down Market Street, but there was also a noticeable lime green seen around The City over the weekend.
San Mateo-based LimeBike, a dockless bike rental company, launched its electric scooters called Lime-S in The City over the weekend, allowing the public to find and rent the scooters using the LimeBike app.
At least 60 scooters were shown as available for rental using the Lime Bike app on Sunday. Scooters were also spotted around The City on Monday as available for rental.
City officials, though, are not too thrilled about the release of the electric scooters.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson Paul Rose said the transit agency is aware of the company’s electric scooters and is asking the company to work with the SFMTA before launching a new program:
“While we welcome improved mobility options, we want to carefully consider the potential benefits and impacts of any new private transportation service to ensure that it serves the public interest.”
Transit officials and Supervisor Aaron Peskin are working on legislation to craft a permit program for the emerging shared electric scooters, said Rose.
Peskin introduced the proposed legislation at the March 6 Board of Supervisors meeting to amend the transportation code to establish a violation for electric scooters left unattended on the street, sidewalk or public-right-way as part of a permit program with the SFMTA.
The proposed legislation would allow the Department of Public Works to take enforcement action by removing unauthorized electric scooters not a part of the permit program.
Peskin said in a statement to SFBay:
“The City has been consistent in our desire to have corporations work with us to establish reasonable regulations on emerging technologies.”
“We have created a permitting and enforcement program for stationless bikes, and I announced two weeks ago that we were working to create a similar system for electric scooters. We’re a Transit First City that welcomes alternatives to cars. I’m confident that we can create a system of regulations that covers those alternatives without sacrificing the safety of the public.”
The Board of Supervisors last year passed similar legislation by Peskin requiring dockless bike stations companies to obtain a permit from the SFMTA before operating in The City.
The SFMTA Board of Directors approved the permit program last year and so far has only granted one permit, to Jump Bikes, to operate in The City. LimeBike had applied for a permit to operate its bikes in The City but were denied.
Despite not having a permit program in place yet for shared electric scooters, Rose said:
“…It is illegal to place a scooter (or any other object) in a manner that obstructs the sidewalk or other pedestrian paths of travel.”
Rose added that it is also against state law for any motorized scooter to use the sidewalk, and also requires users of scooters to wear helmets.
It’s unclear, though, if The City will ask the company to remove the electric scooters from the streets.
Lime Bike’s scooters have already been seen on the sidewalk and throughout The City, including in South of Market, near the Golden Gate Bridge, and at Fisherman’s Wharf over the weekend.
It costs $1 to unlock the electric scooter and then 15 cents per one minute. Instructions on the electric scooter tell users to not block the sidewalk or traffic, to wear a helmet and to “Park properly (ie by the curbside).”
Additionally, instructions tell users they must be at least 18 years old to use the electric scooter, have a driver’s license and “No stunt riding.”
SFBay has reached out to LimeBike and is awaiting a response.
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. He covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent over a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a native in the city and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.