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Below is an outline of the main events in the history of our advocacy and the scooter rental industry in San Diego. Blue text indicates some of the actions taken by Safe Walkways.


DecoBike docked pedal bike scheme starts.

Feb 2018

Bird dockless motorized scooters for rent appear on sidewalks in San Diego.

Feb 2018 - June 2019

City Refuses to enforce regulations prohibiting encroachment of sidewalks and running unpermitted business from sidewalks.

March 2018

Bird is reported to have initiated their Save Our Sidewalks pledge of $1 per scooter to be donated to each city in which they operate to build more bike lanes. A public records request later reveals no donated money was received by the City of San Diego.

June 2018

 Safe Walkways group formed on Facebook.

Summer/Fall 2018

CM Bry & Gomez working group works on a new SMD ordinance.

2018 & 2019

Safe Walkways testimony to numerous meetings of Council.

September 2018

Assembly Member Todd Gloria and D3 Council Member Chris Ward attend and promote Bird's announcement of their Community Program to address safety issues affecting pedestrians. The public was told that this would enable the reporting of dangerous driving such as driving on sidewalks, but it didn't.

September 19 2018

Scooter companies make presentations to Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods committee.

Fall 2018

Mayor Faulconer announces his dept. will develop the SMD ordinance, replacing CMs Bry and Gomez. Consideration of the proposals is transferred from Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods committee to the Active Transportation & Infrastructure committee.

November 2018

Elections for some Council districts. Lorie Zapf (D3) not re-elected. Dr. Jenn Campbell elected to represent D3.


DecoBike Scheme ends

January 2019

Safe Walkways publishes paper on Carbon Footprint Impact of Scooter rental industry in SD. It shows that although a privately owned motorized scooter could reduce carbon emissions, the businesses renting dockless motorized scooters do not because the riders replace non-carbon emitting activities like walking, cycling and using transit, many rent scooters for fun rather than transport, millions of scooters must be manufactured, and the dockless rental businesses have people driving around in carbon emitting vans to stage, relocate and maintain their scooters.

January 19 2019

Disability Rights California class-action lawsuit against City and Scooter companies filed. This is on behalf of vision and mobility impaired people whose access to the amenities of the city are restricted by the staging and parking of dockless scooters on sidewalks.

February 6 2019

Safe Walkways presentation to Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods committee on ticketing illegally parked scooters and geofencing needed for streets that are illegal for motorized scooters.

April 2019

Mission Beach Town Council proposes City ban scooters from boardwalk. MB residents hold protest on boardwalk in support; SW members attend.

April 2019

Safe Walkways members discuss the proposed ordinance with D3 Council Member Chris Ward and are told that "we have to get something on the books" and that although the ordinance is not ideal in terms of protecting pedestrian safety, it will be reviewed after six months and could then be revised.

April 2019

California Assembly Member Todd Gloria writes letter to City with recommendations for SMD ordinance.

April 23 2019

City Council considers Mayor Faulconer's proposed ordinance to regulate Shared Mobility Device companies in San Diego. This will establish a permitting scheme, require indemnification by the companies of the City against liability and require data to be provided to the City. It does not address the pedestrian safety issues created by dockless rental scooters. Rather it legitimizes the use of sidewalks for staging and parking of scooters outside of downtown.

May 14 2019

Second reading by Council of Mayor's proposed ordinance governing SMD companies.

June 2019

County of SD Grand Jury report published. It castigates the City of San Diego for its inaction in protecting pedestrian safety.

June 2019

City of SD SMD ordinance starts.

August thru January inc 2019

1st. 6mo permit period starts. 22,000 scooters requested and allocated yielding an estimated over $1.4m income to the City.

August thru January inc 2019

City impounds thousands of scooters during Comic-con

October 2019

City fines for blocking street sweeping start.

December 2019

City of SD submits response to County Grand Jury report. This touts the new regulations as a solution to the pedestrian safety issues.

December 2019

City passes ordinance to ban motorized vehicles on MB boardwalk. Dockless motorized scooter rental companies are required to slow their vehicle to 3mph on the boardwalk.

December 2019

Citizens meet with Mayor's staff to discuss update to SMD ordinance. No update is proposed to Council. No update is made.

January 2020

Lime reported to have laid off ~100 workers and withdraws from a dozen markets including San Diego.

January 21 2020

Disability Rights California class-action lawsuit: dockless motorized scooter rental companies are removed from the suit..

February thru July inc 2020

2nd 6mo permit period starts. Scooters requested and allocated = 11,500. This generates an estimated $750,000 brining the toal raised in twelve months from permit fees to over $2.1m.

February 2020

Sweep 5-year contract starts: $540,000/yr for 2 teams 14h / day 7 days / week.

February 2020

City stops imposing fines for dockless rental scooters left in corrals and blocking street sweeping.

March 2020

COVID restrictions imposed on public gatherings. Hospitality businesses close.

April 2020

June, July, August 2020

July 2020

3rd 6mo permit period starts. Scooters requested and allocated = 6,500 generating a further over $400,000 in City income.

November 3, 2020

Elections for Mayor and Council held. Todd Gloria elected Mayor.

December 2020

City ceases to produce Weekly Scooter Metric report.

December 10, 2020

Todd Gloria takes office as Mayor of San Diego, replacing Kevin Faulconer.

January 20, 2021

Members of Council take office.

January 2021

As the ordinance governing SMD companies has not been updated, as the public was promised in 2019, Safe Walkways publishes its own proposed ordinance update.

February thru July inc 2021

4th 6mo permit period starts. Scooters requested and allocated = 11,500 generating an estimated $750,000 income for the City. To date the permitting scheme has raised an estimated $3.2m over two years in permit fees based on fleet size alone.

May 2021

The Director of the Sustainability & Mobility department, Alyssa Muto, presents RFP and MC change proposals to AT&I committee for approval. They include moving from a permit-based scheme to one in which the City creates its own "SMD program" and contracts operators to provide a variety of rentable dockless devices to the public.  Not approved. Committee requests proposals to get scooters off sidewalks and account for the full cost of the SMD industry on the City.

February thru August inc 2021

City contractor Sweep impounds one scooter per day on average.

August 2021 thru January inc 2022

5th 6mo permit period starts. Scooters requested and allocated = 14,500. This generates an estimated over $940,000 in City income.

September 2021

City fines for blocking street sweeping re-start.

September 2021

 Safe Walkways presents GET SCOOTERS OFF WALKWAYS petition to Mayor

September 2021

Sweep impounds only 15 scooters in the entire month.

November 10, 2021.

City's Request For Proposals, RFP, for the forthcoming SMD program published. This asks that contracted operators provide a wide variety of devices, e.g. trikes and cargo bikes and have technology that prevents sidewalk driving.

November 2021

Safe Walkways Presents RFP Action Requests to Council, Mayor and Director of S&M dept. 

February thru July inc 2022

 6th 6mo permit period starts. Scooters requested and allocated = 11,050. This generates over $700,000 in City income. This is the final 6-month period of the permitting scheme. The estimated total income to the City from the permitting scheme over three years is over $4.1m or roughly over $1.3m per year on average.

January 21, 2022 to start of City SMD program:

Deadline for RFP proposals. Companies submitting proposals are: Bird, CycleHOP, Lime, Link, Lyft, Spin, Veo and Wheels. A small committee of staff including Director Muto meets to review the proposals and Lime, Link, Lyft and Spin are selected. Lyft drops out before contracts are signed and is replaced by Bird.

August 1, 2022

Start of contracts with selected SMD companies to operate the City's SMD program.

August 2022 to November 2023

City's SMD program collapses. Lime withdrew complaining about the City's required measures to protect pedestrian safety. Link was removed. Spin was acquired by Bird. Bird suffered from the theft of its more modern vehicles so deployed old scruffy looking scooters that did not have the technology the City required. Director Muto ignored evidence that these scooters were being driven on sidewalks and Bird remained until it eventually withdrew after experiencing a decline in sales. In November 2022 Director Muto reported to a meeting of the AT&I committee that the City's new SMD program had zero operators providing zero vehicles to the public. She claimed that the City's rules to protect pedestrian safety were to blame.

November 2023

CM Kent Lee, who had been representing San Diego District 6 only since January 2023, proposed to the AT&I committee that the safety measures the Council and City had put in place in August 2022 to protect pedestrians should be removed or relaxed. These proposals were approved by the committee for consideration by the full Council.

December 2023

Bird Global files for bankruptcy protection "in order to reorganise" and is reported to be selling off its assets in the USA. Having once been valued at over $2B, the firm has subsequently been delisted from the NY stock exchange and last was seen traded at $0.08 per share.

January 2024

Safe Walkways provides arguments against the proposed roll-back of pedestrian safety measures. These can be viewed here, here and here.

January 2024

City Council considered CM Lee's proposals. Opposition and concern expressed by fellow members of Council led him to withdraw the proposals for revision in consultation with the City Attorney, leaving open the prospect of them being presented to Council in another form at a future date.