San Jose officials threaten to ban motorized scooters, say public safety at stake

San Jose officials are threatening to make their city the latest to ban motorized scooters. The mayor says public safety is at stake. 

A KTVU camera captured one scooter rider who says she took a tumble off the two-wheeled device recently while riding on the sidewalk. As she moved into the street, she hit a patch of wet leaves – and bam – face plant.

“I felt embarrassed because some people seen me fall. They asked if I was okay, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m good,” she said outside city hall.

A bruised ego is one thing, but increasingly city officials say both pedestrians and riders are incurring serious injuries from scooter users zipping down San Jose sidewalks.

“We’ve got to do something to make the system safer,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo, D-San Jose.

He is putting scooter companies on notice: Implement safety measures, prevent scooters working on sidewalks, or pull your scooters out of San Jose altogether.

The mayor suggests geo-fencing technology, similar to what’s used to keep grocery carts from being rolled too far from a store. A GPS signal triggers a kill switch, disabling a scooter if the rider moves onto a sidewalk in a densely populated area, such as downtown.

“We want to insure where we have a lot of pedestrians that we can keep them in the bike lanes, where we’re doing a lot to make those bike lanes safer,” said Liccardo.

It’s not just safety. There are complaints that scooter users leave the devices anywhere and everywhere. The mayor wants to make sure that scooter companies mandate they’re parked properly, like this.

“To insure that the way that scooters are being parked won’t create obstacles for people who are using transit or people with disabilities,” said Liccardo.

Some who use the scooters say the real dangers are in the street, where inattentive drivers can do more harm than a scooter.

“These drivers are crazy,” said the same unidentified scooter user.

City officials say the days of arbitrarily deciding where to ride are coming to a close. While scooter companies Lime and Bird didn’t respond for comment, city staffers will likely begin researching rules changes in January, with a new ordinance in place by July 1, 2019.