Elected officials celebrated the beginning of the Shared Mobility pilot program in September, when scooters cost $0.15 per minute. (File photo)

The wild-west era of scooter transport officially ended Monday with the start of a new program to limit and regulate dockless bikes and scooters within Santa Monica’s borders.

Bird, Lime, Jump and Lyft have been permitted to offer bikes and/or scooters under the terms of the program that will limit the total number of devices in the city, increase transparency for the companies and increase regulations for safe use.

The initial cap on bikes/scooters will be 3,000 (2,000 scooters and 1,000 bikes) but the number of devices will vary based on usage data. With the City’s official bikeshare program there will now be seven different devices operating on five different apps.

At the official program launch Monday, City officials acknowledged the community’s mixed feelings about dockless scooters but said participation in the pilot program requires the companies to address some of the frequent complaints such as improper parking and unsafe riding.

Mayor Ted Winterer said approving the devices is part of the city’s ongoing efforts to fight climate change.

“Santa Monica and our partner operators here today are dramatically reinventing how we think about traveling from point a to point b,” he said. “This pilot is another chapter in our long history of commitment to being a multimodal city where the car is not the only option to get around and fossil fuel transportation doesn’t threaten our planet.”

Ryan Fujiu, Vice President of Product for Bird, said the new program would be a model for other cities.

“(The program) is a natural evolution given the city’s historic past of encouraging and driving climate-friendly leadership and now this visionary city is charting a path forward that other cities around the world will soon follow,” he said.

David Fairbank, Market Manager for Lyft Bikes & Scooters in Los Angeles said the company will run its operations out of a Santa Monica warehouse and their hands-on approach will allow the company to stage devices in appropriate locations.

“From the start, we’ve always wanted to provide a better solution to transportation by giving people a convenient reliable ride whenever they needed one,” he said. “More people biking, scooting and walking is better for the city. With our bikes and scooters everywhere, we are helping to reduce the number of cars on the road, increase public transportation trips and provide equitable transportation options.”

Lime CEO Toby Sun said despite the company’s global reach, they maintain a focus on the Southern California market and their commitment to working with local regulators, merchants and customers has created a partnership that provides community-specific services.

“We do value and consider California, especially southern California, a very, very important market for us,” he said.

Jump CEP and Founder Ryan Rzepecki said his company had recently been purchased by Uber and said the new class of small electric powered vehicles shows promise for transforming habits.

“The rate of adoption on electric vehicles is much, much higher and much more engaging,” he said. “We think it really broadens the user base and gets more people out of cars and onto these light vehicles. We think it really is a game changer and we’re excited to introduce the jump product to the streets of Santa Monica.”


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