Electric scooters and bikes are getting a share of Santa Monica’s coveted street parking.
Riders can park their scooters and bikes on the side of the street in four new zones the City installed last week in the Ocean Park neighborhood along Main Street. 19 off-street parking zones have been installed since September, and the City plans to continue the momentum by building by installing more street parking in the coming weeks.
A rectangle of white chalk on the street and curb defines the zones, and stencils mark the space as parking and depict a scooter and a bike.
“Over time, we intend to work with the scooter and bike companies to put the drop zones in their apps and add incentives to use them,” said Mobility Manager Francie Stefan.
The parking is being installed in tandem with the City’s Shared Mobility Pilot Program, which launched in September and authorized 2,000 scooters and 1,000 bikes from Bird, Lime, Uber, and Lyft to roam the streets of Santa Monica. Two of the new street parking zones were installed next to stations allotted to the City’s bike share program, Breeze.
“This creates a logical place for people to leave the devices,” Stefan said. “They are also more likely to find one when they want one.”
Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor, said replacing parking for cars with parking for scooters and bikes will allow more people to use the spaces, citing a study in New York that compared the use of a bike station and parking spaces on different sides of the same street. The data showed that in a single hour, about 200 people arrived and left from the bike station, while only 11 people arrived and left from the three parked cars on the other side of the street.
“Most merchants, when they see the data, wouldn’t object to replacing car parking with bike and scooter parking, because bike and scooter stations will bring many more people to the sidewalk in front of their businesses,” he said.
Shoup added he thinks it’s important the City collect data on arrivals and departures from the first few zones before scaling up the project.
Prior to the pilot program’s launch, the City had impounded 35 scooters, written almost 700 traffic and administrative citations, and recorded 16 collisions. It also received numerous complaints from residents regarding sidewalk riding and careless parking.
The program, which will run through December 2019, requires companies to educate riders about safety, make helmets more widely available, share data with the City and respond to user and resident complaints. It also stipulates that ADA paths, entrances, driveways, bus stops and lanes must be clear, and prohibits companies from distributing vehicles to beach lots, Ocean Front Walk, the Santa Monica Pier, the Third Street Promenade and Palisades Park.