What You Can Do
- Report violations using the Get-It-Done app.
- Talk to other people and spread the word.
- Write in support of Assembly Bill 371.
- Tell the politicians what you think.
- Comment on the City's Climate Action Plan.
- Use the list of contacts below to spread the word further.
- Ask whether someone from Safe Walkways may come to speak at a meeting.
- Advocate to restore safety for pedestrians on the walkways of San Diego using the info from this site.
- Improve safety:
- Educate renters of the risks.
- Propose limits on when and where scooters may be used.
- Ensure that rental companies comply with regulations they otherwise ignore,
- Persuade cities to charge appropriate fees to recover the full cost the industry imposes on it.
- Push cities to apply enforcement such as impounding, fines and permit revocation or removal.
- Things NOT to do:
- Vandalism - often endangering the lives of renters: Illegal and not condoned by us.
What You Can Do
Unlike most organizations we don't ask you for money. 🥰
However, if you share our concerns and want to help we do ask that you donate some time to expressing your views to the City and other institutions. This can seem pointless as usually one receives no reply but we assure you that opinions expressed by citizens have an impact.
Report! Report! Report!
Get-It-Done reports are incredibly useful for us as they provide a publicly accessible record of violations, with pictures. In 2021, over 28,000 GID reports were submitted about rental scooters, proving that the City still has not solved the parking issues created by the companies and their users.
To use the Get-It-Done app download it from the City's website.
- Check with your friends and neighbors and get them to do the same.
On the right of this page is a sequence of pics showing you how to report rental scooter violations.
- To initiate the app you must register and provide an email address, to which confirmations of any reports are sent. For members concerned about privacy we provide a Safe Walkways email address that can be used instead. To request it please use the Contact Us form.
If you are hit by a scooter, no matter whether you are injured or not, report the incident to the Police - and remember to get an incident number to ensure it is recorded. If you are hit by a scooter that is an incident where vehicles hit pedestrians and we want them to be recorded.
Talk To Other People: Residents, Property Owners, Business People, Tourists, Scooter Renters, Hotel Managers, Restaurant owners, etc. And Spread The Word
Word-Of-Mouth is a very powerful and effective way of spreading the message, especially when people talk to others like themselves
Our Talking Points document gives you numerous points to bring up with other people. Please talk to them and spread the word.
If you belong to an organization that might be interested in the issues we are raising then offer to make a presentation to them, or, if you prefer, ask whether they'd like one of us to speak about the issues. If they do then use the Contact Us box to let us know the name of the organization, the contact person and information, and anything else relevant.
Support California Assembly Bill 371
AB371 is a bill moving through the California Legislature that will protect pedestrians by requiring that drivers of rented scooters to have third-party liability insurance, something that most, currently, do not have. We regard this as so significant that we have created a page dedicated to this proposed legislation, introduced by AM Jones-Sawyer.
Please access the page to see how you can help.
Tell the Mayor and Council What You Think About the RFP and Proposed Changes to the Municipal Code
Writing: This website, our Action Requests document about the RFP, the shorter press release about it, and our Talking Points document should all help inform you about the issues. To communicate with the nine members of Council and the Mayor, Todd Gloria, we suggest writing via email - the preceding links provide their email addresses.
Speaking at City Council and Committee Meetings: The issues we want the City to address come up for consideration at committee and Council meetings, the schedule and agendas of which are indicated on the City's website. Currently these are only held via Zoom. Citizens may speak about either items on the agenda or Non-Agenda items. So, if you have a comment to make about something not on the agenda for that Council meeting you may make it in that section of the agenda for Non-agenda Comments. Note that if there are many people wanting to make a Non-agenda comment the committee Chair or Council President may limit the number who may speak. Otherwise you can comment on the agenda item when it is called for discussion. In both cases you must indicate that you wish to speak before doing so and usually speakers are called in the order they indicated.
Of critical importance will be the meeting of Council that considers changes to the Municipal Code to adjust for the new RFP system and the prior committee meeting(s) held to consider them. We don't know yet when that Council meeting will be scheduled.
Pedestrian safety and scooter related issues are considered by the Active Transportation & Infrastructure committee, the members and the schedule and agendas for meetings of which are indicated on the City's website.
Communicate Your Views to the City's Sustainability and Mobility Department: To get an overview of the way the City is organized view the City's organization chart. It shows that the new Sustainability and Mobility department, which oversees the regulation of the shared mobility device companies, (the scooter rental companies), is headed by Alyssa Muto, ([email protected]). Director Muto and her staff developed both the RFP and the proposed changes to the Municipal Code with input sought from the scooter rental companies but not from citizens groups. The proposed changes to the Municipal Code include prohibiting property owners from moving rental scooters that block access to their property. All the proposed MC changes must be approved by Council in order to come into effect and are indicated in the RFP document and our concerns about them are laid out in our Action Requests document and the associated press release - see above for links to both.
Express Your Opinion About The City's Climate Action Plan
The City of San Diego is updating its Climate Action Plan. It has published a draft version of it and has invited citizens to offer their comments on it. Here for example is the comment we submitted on January 17th. 2022:
"Multiple studies over the past four years, including our own, indicate that the rented motorized scooter industry has not been decreasing carbon emission in San Diego. Instead it has increased them.
This is explained on our website: (https://www.safewalkwaysusa.com/campaigning/climate-change/) and in our paper published in 2019 available from there.
A study published in 2022 summarizes recent research: (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1361920921004296?via%3Dihub) indicating that shared devices substitute for carbon-free options like walking and cycling and low carbon options like transit and a statement from the researchers (https://ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2022/01/how-micromobility-affects-climate.html) suggests that private ownership of e-scooters or e-bikes does lower carbon emissions whereas shared devices increase them.
Our analysis of the economics of renting versus ownership (https://www.safewalkwaysusa.com/illusion-2-rented-scooters-are-a-first-mile-last-mile-travel-solution/) also indicates that renting is not an economical option for local residents, as at current rental rates and cost of purchase, privately owned e-scooters are less expensive for First/Last Mile use, will be better cared for, have a known maintenance history to the owner and that an owner is more likely to wear a helmet.
We are also concerned that integration with the transit system will inevitably lead to subsidies for the rental companies, none of which are making a profit and which have willfully imposed social costs on citizens for years now."
This was made using the City's online comments system which enables one to indicate what part of the draft plan the comment relates to. To identify the section related to scooters on can search for the word "scooter", click that section and enter the comment.
Who Else Should Hear From You About The RFP, MC Changes and Rented Scooter Problems?
The following institutions and the citizens they serve are all affected by the scooter rental industry:
- City of San Diego Advisory Boards:
- The Port of San Diego, owns, manages and regulates the coastal areas of the cities adjacent San Diego Bay, including the North and South Embarcadero and the land on which the San Diego Convention Center is located. It is managed by an appointed Board of Directors. Port Authority regulations prohibit motorized scooters from their property and no corrals have been created for them there. The Port Authority has its own police force, the Harbor Police, to enforce its regulations.
- The San Diego Convention Center usually hosts tens of thousands of conventioneers every year, (though not currently due to the pandemic) and has a board whose members are appointed by the Council of the City of San Diego.
- The San Diego Tourism Authority publicizes San Diego to tourists and conventioneers and is governed by an appointed board of directors who "formulate direction and policies which guide SDTA in fulfilling its mission to drive visitor demand to economically benefit the San Diego region".
- The San Diego Association of Governments, (SANDAG), which is governed by an appointed board of directors. SANDAG develops various transportation projects some of which are directly related to pedestrian safety and the scooter rental industry.
- The County of San Diego is governed by an elected board of Supervisors. Note that it was a County Grand Jury which investigated the inaction of the City in dealing with the public safety issues created by the scooter rental industry and which published its report in 2019.
- The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, (MTS), is governed by an appointed board of directors. MTS, under the leadership of CEO Sharon Cooney, is already entering into trial arrangements with scooter rental companies to locate their vehicles at transit nodes. Note that two members of the MTS Executive committee, Sean Elo-Rivera and Monica Montgomery-Steppe are both elected members of the City Council and, respectively the President of the City Council and a member of its AT&I committee. Another Council member also on the MTS board is Vivian Moreno as is Mayor Todd Gloria. The Board and Executive committee are Chaired by Nathan Fletcher, a Chair of the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors.
- Three City Council districts are directly impacted by the scooter rental industry:
- San Diego Community Power provides electricity from sustainable sources to supplement power provided by SDG&E.
- Organizations representing people with vision and mobility impairments:
- Other Organizations Concerned About Climate Change and Sustainability:
- Organizations Related to Mobility:
MORE THAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE SAFETY
Get The City To Cover The Costs The Rental Industry Imposes And Stop City Giveaways To The Scooter Rental Industry
More income means more funds available for measures that restore pedestrian safety.
Many cities regulate the scooter rental companies and impose fees on them. In San Diego, initially, they paid for six-month permits for roughly 22,000 scooters, which cost them around $1.5m. Subsequently the numbers were reduced but in the first twenty-four months of operation, from the Summer of 2019 when the permitting scheme was introduced by the City, around $4.5m has been paid in permit fees. Of that, virtually nothing has been assigned to enforcement or any of the other measures the public was told would be adopted to protect public safety. However the City of San Diego may well have undercharged them.
Many cities charge a fee of $1 per device per day. San Diego's permitted scooter numbers per six-month period were: 22,000, 11,200, 6,500 and 14,500. If the number of scooters had been the same for a $1 per day per device fee the City's total income from fees would have been:
- Yr 1: $4,015,000 + $2,044,000 = $6,059,00
- Yr 2: $1,186,050 + $2,646,250 = $3,832,300
- TOTAL = $9,891,300
Thus, rather than ~$4.5m over two years the City would have received ~$10m, a potential giveaway of ~$5.5m.
In August 2022 the City's RFP contract scheme is expected to replace the current permitting and will allow a maximum of 8,000 devices. That number would generate ~$3m per year if a $1 per device per day charge was made for the entire fleet but the fees will be charged on a monthly basis on the number of devices deployed rather than the entire fleet and the per device daily fee will be $0.75 not $1.00, which, together, is another huge giveaway to the scooter rental industry:
- Fees based on a fleet size of 8,000 at $1 per device per day would generate ~$2.9m.
- Fees of $0.75 per device per day and based on average deployments percentages of say 65% generate $1.4m, a giveaway of another $1.5m.
We estimate the costs the industry imposes on the City and the potential of income from this new system to cover it. The RFP system will generate significantly less income than the permit scheme, significantly less than is generated by fees charged by other cities and significantly less than the costs of restoring safety for pedestrians. It will in reality be another huge giveaway of potential taxpayers' dollars to the scooter rental companies.
Get The City To Impound Scooters And Impose Fines On Companies In Violation
Impounding: The "leave it anywhere" belief has resulted in rental scooters being left on private property, creating blocked access to businesses and properties and obstacles and hazards either when standing or fallen. In San Diego, a property owner has the right to have such hazards removed from their property and that has created a market opportunity which has been filled by the world's first, private, scooter impounding business, Scoot Scoop. The impounding of their misplaced scooters costs the scooter companies in terms of lost revenue, as well as in the removal, impounding and storage fees charged to have them returned and, if they choose not to retrieve their vehicles, replacement.
In San Diego the City initially used impounding as the enforcement option against parking violations on public property with the companies forced to pay the impound fees if they wanted to continue to have a permit to do business. However, after an initial spurt of impounding in the Summer of 2019, when thousands were impounded in one month, from April 2020 this sanction was abandoned and the companies can largely ignore it.
That then leaves the impounding of scooters left either on private property, or left in the public domain but interfering with access to or from private property, something the scooter companies are also seeking to curtail by having the City prohibit anyone other than a City employee or agent from moving them when blocking access to private property - see item 14 in the list of proposed changes to its Municipal Code in the City's RFP document. This is a proposal we strongly oppose.
Fines: The City of San Diego imposes fines of $500, $750 and $1,000 per offense on rental companies that fail to remove their vehicles for street sweeping as failing to do so can lead to blocked drains and flooding. It did so in late 2019 and early 2020, then suspended enforcement during the rest of 2020 and well into 2021 but resumed in the Fall of that year.
Permit Revocation: If a City has rules governing the scooter companies and the rules are being broken, the City can revoke the permit. In San Diego this was tried once, with Lime in 2019 but on appeal the City's decision was overturned and this sanction has not been tried again since then.
Ensure That The Companies Abide By Regulations
Waste Management: The companies should comply with the regulations on the disposal of hazardous waste. The scooters are powered by lithium-ion batteries and in years past some scooters caught fire. One might then ask whether they are a fire hazard and whether there are regulations governing how they should be stored and disposed of, and whether premises storing the batteries or scooters be inspected and certified.
Make Potential Contractors Aware Of Contractual Issues
Scooter rental operations include recharging scooters, performing basic maintenance, staging them at the start of a day and relocating them as they are scattered by users. Some of the companies use direct employees for this but others sub-contract the work out. Companies such as Bird changed their business model from "chargers" paid on a per device basis, to "Fleet Managers", (FMs), who are paid on a percentage of net income from each device. This has led to controversy, a lack of clarity over ownership of the scooters and some disgruntlement by Fleet Managers who have found the terms of their arrangement with the scooter rental company changed in ways they find less than appealing. When locations are also controlled thereby creating FM territories, some territories may be more rewarding than others.
The Fleet Managers model seems to shift the risks and costs of the business away from the company and onto the FMs. Its long-term sustainability is thus questionable, as it may reduce costs for the company in the short term, in the longer term the number of people willing to take on the costs and risks of being a Fleet Manager may diminish.
Things NOT to do
Theft: Not something citizen advocates can affect but San Diego lies only a few miles from the border with Mexico and many of the scooters companies' vehicles find their way across the border with no hindrance and no repercussions for the thieves. We have been told that 80% of the fleet of one company has been lost to theft in under one year and that another loses around forty a month. Thinking of helping? Don't!
Vandalism: People have vandalized scooters and in the process put people's lives at risk. Don't!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP IN RESTORING SAFETY TO THE WALKWAYS OF SAN DIEGO AND BEYOND.
HOW TO USE THE GET IT DONE APP TO REPORT SCOOTER PARKING VIOLATIONS IN SAN DIEGO. (It can't be used to report moving violations).
It might seem time-consuming and complicated but you'll find it isn't.