Palo Alto Reconsiders Rentable E-Scooter Program

As of October 2019, Palo Alto leaders say they are now working on a list of regulations governing the safe use of rentable e-scooters. If these rules pass City Council, then lawmakers might allow e-scooter companies to operate in the Bay Area city.

As locals might recall, Palo Alto City Council was supposed to let in shareable bikes and e-scooters when it passed a pilot program in the spring of 2018. Despite this plan’s approval, councilmembers had second thoughts and decided to put a stop to the program.

When councilmembers recently reviewed their pilot proposal, they agreed to renew the project, provided companies followed a specific set of safety rules. After these regulations are finalized, councilmembers could begin accepting applications from interested e-scooter vendors.

It’s unknown at this point how many e-scooters will be allowed on Palo Alto’s streets. Councilmembers also have yet to reveal what companies they’d be interested in working with.

Palo Alto was especially troubled by the safety issues San Francisco faced as it attempted to integrate rentable e-scooters. In March of 2018, the companies Lime, Bird, and Spin illegally placed hundreds of their e-scooters onto San Fran’s streets. To get a handle on this situation, San Francisco’s authorities put a temporary e-scooter ban into effect in May.

Since that time, San Francisco put together its own pilot program and is now working with four companies on a permanent basis. The businesses now allowed on San Fran’s streets include JUMP, Lime, Scoot, and Spin.

It’s likely Palo Alto authorities are carefully monitoring safety trends in San Francisco to learn from the nearby city’s experiences. Lawmakers in Palo Alto say they are using info from San Francisco’s e-scooter program to help craft their e-scooter safety laws.

Anyone interested in keeping tabs on Palo Alto’s progress should visit the City Council’s website. You could also learn more about how San Francisco deals with e-scooters on this official webpage.


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