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San Mateo’s New Bike-Sharing Permit Won’t Include E-Scooters

San Mateo’s Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission (SMSIC) recently announced it doesn’t plan on including e-scooters in a newly proposed bike-share permit program. Although many residents are interested in testing out this new technology, officials are concerned about safety.

On March 13, 2019, the SMSIC reviewed data from ride-share companies that recently sent dockless bicycles and e-bikes in the city. In particular, commission members looked at the popularity of rentable bicycles from the San Francisco-based company Lime.

From June of 2018 till February of 2019, Lime sent 275 dockless bikes and e-bikes into San Mateo. Researchers noted a dramatic uptick in the number of daily rides on Lime bikes compared with competing company Social Bikes.

The SMSIC also examined survey results to get a feel for how the community views these alternative mobility services. They found that almost 80 percent of survey participants had a favorable view of bike-sharing programs in San Mateo.

Citing the community’s overwhelming support for bicycle-sharing services, the SMSIC decided to open a bike-sharing permit in the near future. This permit would allow one company to bring 500 rentable bicycles and e-bikes into San Mateo for a one-year period.

As it currently stands, this new rideshare permit would not include the increasingly popular e-scooter devices. Indeed, the SMSIC renewed its 90-day ban on e-scooters in February of 2019.

The main reasons commissioners are unwilling to allow e-scooters all have to do with safety. Many SMSIC members claim there’s not enough solid research on how to effectively implement e-scooter programs into cities of comparable size to San Mateo.

While the SMSIC’s official opinion is against e-scooters, there are a few commissioners who would like to bring these popular devices into the city. At the very least, supporters of this new technology argue the city should use its new pilot program to test safety measures applicable to both bicycles and e-scooters.

Interestingly, about 60 percent of San Mateo residents said they would support rentable e-scooters in their city. The main concerns residents had with e-scooters were all related to their safety. On the positive side, the majority survey respondents said e-scooters would offer a fun new way to get around the city.

The SMSIC holds a meeting on the second Wednesday of every month in San Mateo City Hall. To find out more information on this commission, please visit this official website.