After several months of lengthy discussions, the Los Angeles City Council, responding to a motion originally made by Council Member David Ryu, passed rules yesterday for a new one-year trial period for dockless shared vehicles such as bikes and electric scooters. According to a summary in the LA Times today, the trial period will include the following provisions for scooter companies and riders:
- Any company can apply for a permit to participate in the trial (earlier versions of proposed rules would have limited the companies to those with vehicles already on the streets)
- The permitting process will start immediately, but the first approvals could take up to 120 days as the process rolls out.
- During that time, Bird and Lime, the two biggest dockless vehicle operators, will be allowed to have up to 3,000 vehicles on the street.
- Once the approvals are granted, each company will be limited to 3,000 vehicles (scooters or bikes) citywide…with up to 2,500 more in low-income areas, and up to 5,000 more in low-income neighborhoods of the San Fernando Valley. (Previous discussions toyed with a 1,500-vehicle cap, but that was eventually deemed too low to make the vehicles widely available to riders.)
- The vehicle caps will NOT apply to City Council Districts 4 and 15, where Council Members David Ryu and Joe Buscaino have been somewhat more enthusiastic than other council members about testing these new modes of transportation.
- Company permits will cost $20,000 per year, with an additional per-vehicle license fee of $130 a year ($39 in low-income areas).
- All companies will be required to provide a smart-phone app for users (in multiple languages), to provide a non-phone alternative rental method, and to provide ways to pay for vehicle rides with either cash or a credit card.
- To help monitor the fleets, companies will be required to provide real-time information on vehicle locations.
- 50% of rental bikes must be equipped with batteries, to make them more accessible to older and less fit riders…or to make a total of 1% of their fleet handicap accessible.
- Scooters will be set to a maximum speed of 15 mph. (Earlier discussions considered limiting them to 12 mph in some or all locations.)
- Between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., companies must remove improperly parked scooters and bikes within two hours, or pay city workers $28.32 if they have to do the removals.
- As mandated by state law, motorized scooters may be ridden only in the street, and – like bikes – should stay at the far right-hand edge of the street or in a dedicated bike lane. (Companies will also be required to print “No riding on sidewalks” on the platform of every scooter.) As dictated by city laws, however, non-motorized bicycles may be ridden in either the street or on sidewalks.
The vote to approve the new trial program was unanimous, and Ryu posted the following statement on his Facebook page after the passage:
“Today, City Council took a huge step toward addressing first-mile, last-mile issues and developing a safe dockless vehicle program for the City of Los Angeles.
What began as a motion I introduced nearly a year ago today is now a set of rules and regulations that allow this innovative mobility technology to flourish safely and responsibly.
I look forward to working with LADOT Official and my City Council Colleagues on rolling out the dockless bikes and scooters pilot in Los Angeles.”