The micromobility field is narrowing in Santa Monica.

The city currently permits four last mile companies — Bird, Lime, Lyft and Jump, which is owned by Uber — to operate within city limits if they comply with the safety and operational regulations of the Shared Mobility Pilot Program, which began in September 2018 and ends in July. As the city prepares to launch a second pilot program, officials are recommending allowing up to three companies to deploy electric scooters and bikes in Santa Monica through December 2021.

City Council members said in November that city staff should concentrate their regulatory power on a smaller number of micromobility companies that offer high-quality devices, equitable pricing and systems that reduce sidewalk riding and haphazard parking. The city will begin soliciting applications from companies to participate in the second program this spring.

Staff recommend that the total number of permitted devices remain consistent with the current pilot program — an initial 3,250 with seasonal adjustments — but are proposing a number of new regulations that City Council will consider at its Tuesday meeting.

If the council adopts the staff recommendation, the city would for the first time start fining companies for not complying with program conditions. Currently, companies pay annual and daily fees to use the public right-of-way that cover the administrative costs of the pilot program. The fees have also been used to paint bikeways.

“The lack of a defined progressive penalty structure allowed operators to at times slowly resolve important administrative issues or consider (public right-of-way) violations a cost of doing business,” staff wrote in a report on the second pilot program.

The report recommends requiring that companies ensure that devices are evenly deployed throughout the city and incentivize parking in the 107 drop zones the city has installed over the past year, such as by discounting rides that end in a drop zone.

The city may require companies to provide in-app information about other modes of transit and detailed sustainability plans, which could include devices with batteries that can be swapped out in the field and low-emission deployment vehicles.

In selecting new companies for the program, staff suggest giving preference to devices with built-in systems to detect and address sidewalk riding and safety features such as larger wheels and hand brakes.

Companies that commit to fare stability, low-income rate programs and membership options would also be given preference during the selection process. The city would ask operators to enroll a minimum number of riders in their low-income fare programs.

City Council will also discuss the future of Breeze Bike Share, the public bike share program the city created in 2015. Because it has lost ridership and revenue to private micromobility companies over the past two years, the council asked staff in November to reimagine Breeze to retain its usefulness in the post-scooter era. In anticipation of Hulu’s sponsorship agreement ending in November, staff may solicit private or non-profit companies to operate Breeze this spring.

madeleine@smdp.com

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2 Comments

  1. My family is glad to hear that the City Council will be considering eMobility companies that can best address sidewalk riding and haphazard parking on sidewalks, in addition to the other issues raised. The eMobility devices in Santa Monica have become a minefield for pedestrians, especially at night when they’re difficult to spot and often create trip/fall hazards. Dangerous for our citizens, and especially egregious for mobility challenged folks in wheelchairs.

  2. I’ve been riding a Jump bike back and forth to work every day. Just under two miles along Ocean Ave. It’s $6-$8 a day which I think is too much. So I’ll probably tune up my own bike soon and quit the bike sharing.

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