T-Committee Approves Regulations For Dockless Bike-Share, E-Bikes, E-Scooter Pilot

L.A. is nearing approval of pilot regulations for dockless shared mobility devices, including Lime Bike bike-share bicycles pictured. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
L.A. is nearing approval of pilot regulations for dockless shared mobility devices, including Lime Bike bike-share bicycles pictured. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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Last week, the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee approved new pilot regulations for shared mobility devices. Once the full council approves them, the new rules will apply to dockless bike-share, e-bikes, and e-scooters.

The proposed regulations have been through a few iterations. An earlier draft, focused on dockless bike-share (DoBi) operations, was discussed last December. Since then, e-scooters proliferated, so in May the city’s Transportation Department (LADOT) introduced a modified, more detailed, version which would apply to scooters, bikes, and e-bikes. The Transportation Committee responded by directing LADOT to make those regulations less restrictive.

Much of the broad outlines of the earlier proposed regulations would remain. Changed parameters include:

  • Fleet Size: LADOT had proposed an initial fleet size of 500 devices, with growth up to 2,500 based on compliance with city regulations. That initial fleet size was upped to 3,000 devices. The fleet size limits include incentives to encourage operators to make mobility options available in underserved neighborhoods, with additional devices in those areas not counted against the initial cap. Operators may place up to 2,500 additional devices in disadvantaged communities, plus up to 5,000 additional devices in disadvantaged communities in the San Fernando Valley. City Councilmember Nury Martinez has been especially vocal in pushing for getting these new mobility-tech companies to serve her Valley district. To date, dockless mobility devices have primarily served L.A.’s more well-off and touristy Westside areas, though there have been a handful of DoBi pilots in other areas.
  • Boundary Restrictions: LADOT had proposed keeping devices out of Metro Bike Share areas, but this restriction has been eliminated.
  • Fees: LADOT initially proposed annual fees of $500, plus $50 per device. LADOT increased this to $2,000, plus $130 per device, which matches regulations recently approved by the city of Santa Monica. Devices in disadvantaged communities are discounted 70 percent, to $39 per year. LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds stressed that, given the business model these companies currently operate under, fees are generally not a powerful incentive, but restrictions to fleet size and location can be.

In addition, the Transportation Committee required a clear label saying “No Riding On Sidewalks” to be posted on scooters, directed disability rights organizations to be among the groups operators will outreach to, and directed LADOT to publish evaluation criteria for permitting future expansion.

The pilot regulations now await a hearing in the council’s Public Works Committee, after which they must be approved by the full city council.

These shared mobility devices are still in their infancy in the Southern California market. They are popular in some areas (prominently the Westside), and this popularity has triggered some backlash. It remains to be seen what their longer-term impacts are on mobility, and the extent to which municipalities can regulate them to ensure their benefits outweigh their drawbacks.

For additional coverage and details of these Rules and Guidelines for Dockless On-Demand Personal Mobility Services, see Shane Phillips Twitter, Curbed and the city council’s file.

  • It costs $1 to ride a bike. A fee of $130 means the bike has to be used 130 times – without accounting for any maintenance – before breaking even.

    If a bike is ridden 3 times a day, which is a pretty good amount, it would take 1.5 months for a single bike to become profitable.

    And again, thats before any maintenance and overhead.

    This wont work.

  • Mid West

    They stack scooters on the sidewalk, blocking access.They get left on my private property DAILY…and I put them in a trash can! I think I’ll charge a $500 impound for every one. I watch women getting strollers stuck, old people getting tangled in them…and every one of those scooters is operated on the sidewalk. I cannot wait for the million dollar lawsuit for the injuries. The city council will sell us out to anyone, for the right amount. THIS IS FULLY INSANE!

  • linstur

    Birds and Limes are AMAZING!! This is a phenomenon — I saw a banker from Wells Fargo take one out to the gym last week — he says he goes every day. It is life changing. And bit’s LAs big chance to deal with traffic and pollution in one fell swoop. It is also the perfect compliment to the Metro — the last mile problem. I agree, we need to keep everyone safe, and users need to park wisely. But instead of slowing this down or worse, ruining this one chance we have, the city should put a BIKE LANE on every street (which can be done on most streets by just shrinking the width of car lanes – which will also make driving safer). We need to do what Madrid did and just bite the bullet and then it will be amazing.

  • Diana

    Not arguing that their business model is at all profitable, but the cost of a scooter on BIrd or Lime is actually $10/hour – it costs $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute, so even a 5-minute ride is not $1, it’s $1.75.

  • Mark Mallarde

    Allowing private companies to block sidewalks to rent their toys to millennials is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen a city do. But they are nearly all doing it!

    There is NO good place to park a rented scooter other than designated zones paid for by the private companies. I don’t care if it’s in the middle of a sidewalk or propped next to a bus bench. It’s taking up space.

    Hey, millennial children, you need to put away your toys. Your mommy doesn’t live in L.A. to follow you around and put away your toys.