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Bird squawks over e-scooter ‘ban’ as complaints spur action

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Three Lime-S motorized scooters are seen available for rental at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco, Calif. on March 23, 2018.

San Francisco officials are making it clear: There is no proposal to ban the dockless electric scooters seen proliferating on city streets the last month.

An email sent out by one of the electric scooter companies contends otherwise. SFBay Thursday received an email from Bird, based in Venice, with the subject line:

“BREAKING: Bird Stands Up to SF Board Threat.”

The statement from the company said the company learned that the Board of Supervisors:

“… is considering banning Birds and other electric vehicles — and doing so via an extraordinary regulatory maneuver, usually reserved for emergencies like earthquakes.”

The statement read that the board plans to enact the ban next Monday.

What is actually happening next Monday is that the board’s Land Use and Transportation Committee will hear a proposal from Supervisor Aaron Peskin which would set up enforcement and permitting regulations for companies who want to rent out their electric scooters in The City.

The proposed legislation is not a ban on electric scooters, said Sunny Angulo, a legislative aide for Peskin:

“I would just clarify on behalf of the board that regulations and rules are not bans, they are designed to help manage the myriad of competing interests for use of our public realm.”

Peskin’s proposed legislation would be similar to that of another piece of legislation he authored for dockless bikes.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency handles the permitting process for the dockless bikes, and will do so for the electric scooters if the full board passes Peskin’s legislation.

A number of dockless scooters began showing up as first reported by SFBay over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend from another different company, LimeBike. Electric scooters a third company, Spin, have also begun appearing on sidewalks.

Many can be found in the downtown area of The City, including up and down on Market Street and along The Embarcadero with many curious onlookers taking them for a spin. Scooters are often seen blocking sidewalks and walkways, or knocked over lying on the pavement.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Bird believed a possible ban was imminent after a Facebook post by Supervisor Jane Kim, who posted the electric scooters should be banned until The City implemented regulation. A spokesperson from Bird said Kim’s post was on the Walk San Francisco Facebook page.

Ivy Lee, legislative aide to Kim, told The Chronicle Kim had no plans in proposing any ordinance banning the scooters.

Walk San Francisco is asking for the public to send them photos of electric scooters left on sidewalks blocking the right-of-way of pedestrians.

Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco, also wrote a letter to all three electric scooter companies to urge them to educate users of the scooters to not ride them on the sidewalk, as it is against state law.

Medeiros also urged the companies to make sure the scooters are not blocking sidewalks.

Bird is calling upon residents who like the electric scooters to contact city officials to not rush on a ban on the scooters:

“That’s why we call on all San Franciscans who want their city to embrace transportation options that reduce traffic, get people out of cars, and move the city toward its ambitious climate change goals to contact their member of the Board of Supervisors immediately and let them know they need to listen to your voice, and bring everyone to the policymaking table.”

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