San Francisco takes step to regulate electric scooters

San Francisco took a major step Tuesday in regulating those electric scooters that have popped up throughout the city.    

The scooters are similar to bicycle shares we've seen in the last few years, so similar, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who authored the new ordinance, said the scooters should have to stick to the same standards as those bike share companies.

In a matter of weeks rideshare scooters popped up all over San Francisco, and as did complaints. Complaints about scooters zooming down sidewalks, riders without helmets, and scooters left blocking pedestrians.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to do something about it.  The board unanimously voted to establish rules for electric scooters.

Peskin said he's not opposed to scooters, he just wants to see it done responsibly. "These scooters are certainly something that can help in some instances for some users in San Francisco's complex world of transportation challenges," said Peskin. "But that does not mean that we sacrifice the sacred space that is our sidewalks."

We contacted Bird, one of the scooter companies, which released a statement that read in part, "If cities want to establish new regulatory frameworks to make sure Birds fit into their transportation plans and to help reach their carbon emission goals, we support those efforts and will work with them on it.."

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said he's riden the scooters himself, and believes they have a place in the city. But, he stresses, within certain guidelines.

"If we could put into place the right infrastructure, this could be a real innovation, and really help us get people out of cars," said Sheehy

Getting more people out of cars is something Matt Brezina wants to see too. "Our streets are dominated by cars," said Brezina.

He's one of the founding members of the People Protected Bike Lanes in San Francisco, aimed at keeping cyclists safe on city streets.

He's also invested  in scooter share companies, he says the scooters should have a place in the city's transit future.

"We need good legislation in this city, but what we really need is something that supports these to become a viable challenge to the automobile," said Brezina.

Tuesday's vote was the first reading for the ordinance, supervisors will vote on it again next week. The SFMTA will then work out the details. We could see those new regulations in place in May.