L.A. City Councilmember Koretz Proposes E-Scooter Ban

Are these shared e-scooters really a serious threat to pedestrian safety? Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Are these shared e-scooters really a serious threat to pedestrian safety? Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz has proposed a temporary ban on the popular e-scooters that have become ubiquitous in many Westside neighborhoods. Earlier this week, Koretz introduced a motion (council file 17-1125-S3) that, in the name of “public safety concerns for riders and pedestrians,” calls for L.A. to “take all available measures to ban these devices” until the city grants permits.

The Koretz motion was seconded by councilmember Mitch Englander, who has been critical of LimeBike dockless bike-share in Northridge. In February, Englander introduced a motion (council file 17-1125-S2) that would temporarily ban dockless shared devices, but that motion has not received a hearing.

The cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood have approved their own e-scooter bans. Santa Monica city staff proposed tightly limiting e-scooters, but were overruled by their city council. Santa Monica police have been actively ticketing e-scooter violations, including riding on the beach path where they are prohibited.

In July, the L.A. City Council Transportation Committee approved new permitting procedures for e-scooters – as well as e-bikes and dockless bike-share. Those permitting procedures are awaiting a hearing before the council’s Public Works committee, then a vote of the full council.

Koretz did not attend the July meeting where the updated regulations were approved. He did attend the May 23 Transportation Committee meeting where an earlier version was discussed. At that May discussion of shared mobility devices (audio – starting at 1:01), Koretz stated, “I’m open to these new innovative programs,” especially to provide “first/last mile options” in accessing transit. Koretz suggested that dockless devices include advertising, and further clarified that “blocking the sidewalks” is “my biggest concern.”

Livability advocates were quick to point out the sad irony of Koretz pushing a scooter ban in the name of pedestrian safety. Curbed’s Alissa Walker parodied a tweet from Koretz, calling for an interim ban on cars.

Many Streetsblog readers will recall that Koretz has a history of opposing efforts to make pedestrian conditions safer. He pushed to uncouple sidewalk repair from pedestrian safety. He opposed increased Vision Zero pedestrian safety funding. He voted against L.A.’s multi-modal Mobility Plan. He blocked bike lanes planned for Westwood Boulevard.

Transportation Committee chair Councilmember Mike Bonin responded, stating his opposition to the proposed ban and his support for regulating e-scooters:

We need smart regulations for dockless scooters, not a total ban. Scooters are a popular, convenient zero emission form of transportation. If we are serious about combating climate change, cutting emissions, or reducing gridlock, we need to put our mobility where our mouth is.

There are no hearings scheduled yet for the proposed ban nor the proposed regulations. With scooters spreading throughout richer Westside neighborhoods and two city councilmembers signaling their intent to ban the devices, the city council will likely further debate the issue some time soon.

Added: See also Gary Kavanaugh’s e-scooter piece today at SBLA sister site Santa Monica Next.

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