The great scooter surge of 2018 continues to reverberate through local politics with the County Board of Supervisors taking up a discussion of allowable devices on county bike paths, including the beach trail at their Oct. 16 meeting.
Los Angeles County has over 100 miles of Class 1 bike path reserved exclusively for pedestrians and non-motorized travel. Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Janice Hahn are asking the Board as a whole to direct staff to work on revised rules governing the Marvin Braude Bike Path and any other bike paths that run along flood control channels or County roads.
Regulation of the beach trail falls under multiple jurisdictions as the County-owned path passes through multiple cities. Each municipality along the 22-mile trail has the ability to enforce its own regulations within their borders.
Further adding to the confusion has been a discussion over how to classify the new class of electric-assisted devices because while they have a motor, they can also be powered by a kick or pedal.
Existing county documents say the beach path is reserved for non-motorized use but it does allow “electric-assist and electric-powered mobility devices.” Those definitions apply generally, but not exclusively, to electric bicycles and wheelchairs. However, there are exemptions to those exemptions with a notation that electric bicycles with a top speed of more than 28 mph are banned from the path.
In Santa Monica, officials refined their local definitions to classify e-scooters as vehicles which makes them subject to a preexisting ban on all vehicles along the beach path. Council eventually expanded their concept of “vehicles” to prohibit all motorized devices from the path, including electric scooters, some electric bikes, Segways and motorized skateboards.
“Considering the recent emergence of electric motor-assisted bicycles and scooters, and their increased availability to the public through bike-share and scooter-share systems, there is potential for numerous modes of travel on these bike paths. As a result, there is a need to review the rules related to safety and whether there is continuity for all users,” said the letter.
According to the letter submitted to the board, other cities are also working on their own rules.
“An evaluation of current bike path safety regulations promulgated by the various jurisdictions would allow for the development of best practices to enhance continuity of regulatory and advisory signage and ground markings to better inform users as well as enhance enforcement mechanisms.”
The Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 9:30 a.m. at 500 West Temple Street in Los Angeles.