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SFMTA Will Extend E-Scooter Program Indefinitely

It appears San Francisco’s leaders are warming up to rentable e-scooters. At a meeting held on July 16, 2019, members of the San Francisco Transportation Agency (SFMTA) agreed to keep their e-scooter program and welcome new applicants.

Initially, only Scoot and Skip were allowed to place 2,500 e-scooters on San Francisco’s streets beginning in October of 2018. This pilot plan was slated to run for 18 months, but SFMTA members just extended it permanently.

The SFMTA’s latest decision also got rid of the 2,500 limit on e-scooters. A new e-scooter cap, however, has yet to be determined.

This decision, however, wasn’t without controversy. Indeed, two out of four members of the SFMTA voted against this e-scooter expansion.

Dissenting voters complained about the safety risks these devices posed, especially on sidewalks. To address this issue, the SFMTA agreed that permitted companies must improve how they collect safety data. All e-scooters must also have clearly visible numbers so people could easily report safety violations.

Companies must add hi-tech locking devices that can wrap around bike racks to their e-scooters. SFMTA members hope this new technology will deter riders from leaving their vehicles in the middle of sidewalks.

In addition to improving safety, the SFMTA will draw a new map of where they would like to see these devices placed. A focus of the SFMTA’s map will be to provide easy access to e-scooters in economically disadvantaged areas. Most of the e-scooters currently in the city are concentrated in the touristy downtown district.

Although it’s not a formal part of the SFMTA’s permit requirements, e-scooter companies are highly encouraged to invest in education initiatives. Specifically, the SFMTA would like to see companies inform the public about how to properly ride an e-scooter and why helmets are important.

Any e-scooter company that wants to be considered for an SF permit can send in an application from now till October. Anyone can learn more about the city’s program by visiting this SFMTA webpage.