Santa Monica City Proposal Would Leave Dockless E-Bike and E-Scooter Operations in Hands of Ride Hail Giants

Next week, L.A. plans to start enforcing a dockless device moratorium outside of approved pilot areas. Image via Santa Monica Next
Next week, L.A. plans to start enforcing a dockless device moratorium outside of approved pilot areas. Image via Santa Monica Next
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Syndicated from SBLA sister site Santa Monica Next.

City staff from the Santa Monica Planning and Community Development Department released today its recommendations for granting four exclusive shared mobility permits. The somewhat surprising results, if adopted by the Director of Planning and Community Development,* will see a dramatic shakeup in the mobility options offered in the city as neither Bird nor Lime scooter companies were selected to take part in the city’s pilot program.

Rather, a company best known for its car-share program, Lyft, was the highest rated program in both the scooter and bicycle program. Coming second in both categories was Uber-owned JUMP. Uber is also a ride hailing company you might have heard of.



Final selections will be announced August 30. These companies were selected among 18 applicants under a new 16-month shared mobility pilot program established by the Santa Monica City Council on June 12.

The public can submit comments on the proposed operators by August 17 here.

Selected companies will be granted the exclusive right to operate dockless shared electric scooters and bicycles for the duration of the 16-month pilot. These companies will have to comply with stipulated terms in the pilot program, including:

  • $20,000 per operator fee, and a $130 per device fee
  • Vehicle safety and durability features
  • Deployment standards that ensure equitable coverage
  • Parking restrictions in certain pedestrian-heavy locations
  • Minimum customer service standards for reporting broken and abandoned devices
  • User engagement and education standards to increase compliance with state laws regarding age, licensing, helmet use and rider behavior
  • Sharing open operating data with the city

Since dockless electric scooters first arrived in Santa Monica in fall 2017, ridership has been robust with over 600,000 trips and 1,000,000 miles taking place on scooters operated by Bird.

In lieu of capping the number of vehicles shared mobility companies could deploy, the City Council opted at its June meeting to allow operators to scale up their fleets if they can show that high levels of use merit doing so. The four selected companies will be permitted to deploy initial fleets of up to 500 e-bikes and 1,000 e-scooters respectively. Upon approval of the city, each company would be able to expand its fleet if it can show its e-bike fleet averages three rides per bike per day, and/or scooter fleet averages four rides per scooter per day.

Critics have raised concerns about how companies have deployed the services as well as user behavior, especially sidewalk riding, underage riding, lack of helmets and poor parking etiquette. The overwhelming cause of traffic-related collisions, injuries and deaths in Santa Monica remain automobiles and their drivers, and privately-owned cars still travel over 200 times more miles per day than scooters.*


Santa Monica Next contributor Gary Kavanaugh sees small transportation as a key force in fighting climate change, and Sirinya Matute finds them helpful at making sure she can get to her child’s daycare on time.

*The City of Santa Monica reports 10.3 vehicles miles traveled per day per capita, multiplied by 90,000 residents is 927,000 vehicles miles traveled per day in Santa Monica. Bird claimed approximately 1,000,000 miles served after nine months of operation. 1,000,000 divided by 270 days is 3,700 miles. It’s not clear if Bird’s mileage was Santa Monica specific.

* An earlier version of this story said the final decision on permits rested with the City Council. The Director of Planning and Community Development gets final decision on permits, no Council action is necessary.

  • JUBB 3500

    Santa Monica needs to FORCE Bird, Lime and the other companies to restructure the way they are operating their machines in L.A.—lower their top speed to 5 MPH, require all riders to watch a short video detailing the laws, (IE wear helmets and stay OFF the sidewalks and do not block doors, sidewalks or driveways with the scooter), pay for increased signage on public sidewalks and streets, etc.. Bird, Lime will not and have not done these things voluntarily. In fact their entire business model of “Ride Anywhere” and their illegally dumping of their machines throughout our streets shows their utter and callous disregard for civil laws and society. ALL they care about is making buck.

    But at least Santa Monica is actually doing something, anything, about scooters. In L.A. the Venice
    Councilman, Bonin, has his head buried firmly in the sand about the savage effect of these machines on his constituents on the Westside. He has abandoned them to the clutches of these vulture capitalists. His inaction is forcing locals to take the law into their own hands.

  • com63

    Haha, 5mph. That is like a fast walk. Keep them off the sidewalks and clean up the parking situation, otherwise let them have at it. Scooters are great for the city.

  • That’s a great way for Uber & Lyft to eliminate the non-auto competition.

  • Ruth A. Sácre

    This whole proposal is a farce. The ratings/votes are clearly corrupted by ulterior motives such as lobbyists or special interest groups with big money. The fact that Uber & Lyft have higher scores than Byrd & Lime in categories like “experience” & “ability to launch” is laughable considering the former companies have never been seen, while the latter companies have plainly established themselves in good standing for 1 year plus.

    Both Byrd & Lime are extremely easy to use, safe, “compliant”, & positive for locals in so many ways (environmentally, socially, traffic-congestion, etc etc). I will lose all faith in city council if they pass this proposal in its current standing. I foresee a failed pilot period with Uber & Lyft who will both jack up the prices & limit access with their greedy, monopolistic track records. They will of course put more ethical companies of business just like they put out independent longstanding cabbies: recklessly & without remorse.

  • Jason

    Let’s not forget the fact that unless LYFT and Jump set up shop in the City of Los Angeles, this is going to result in a net increase in people driving into and out of Santa Monica due to their ride beginning in one jurisdiction and being unable to end their ride in the destination jursidction.

  • Sean

    Jubb, you can’t be serious. 5mph!? Are you an 80 year old or what?

  • Sean

    Let’s all pray that you’re never in charge of anything ever. You’re an imbecile.

  • JUBB 3500

    LOL. Hey, keep riding without a helmet, friend. Evolution will take care of you in short order. And look, it looks like SM is bringing the hammer down on the fucking scoots. Sad, eh?

  • JUBB 3500

    Bird and Lime and their callous riders brought this on themselves through their selfish actions and dangerous behavior. So BAN them until proper regulations force these vulture capitalist companies that dumped thousands of them out into our community without permission or proper regulations, to follow basic laws and commonsense. Until then, motorized scooters and the ones who ride them (and dump them) on public sidewalks deserve whatever abuse they get. Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, El Segundo are just the beginning.