City Council’s OK Rolls Out Rules for Dockless E-Scooters

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Scooters such as Bird and Lime are used during the first Síclovía since the new mode of transportation has landed in San Antonio.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Participants ride Bird and Lime e-scooters during the first Síclovía since the new mode of transportation landed in San Antonio.

The City of San Antonio has established a temporary set of rules for the approximately 3,000 dockless, electric scooters operating in the city.

The six-month pilot program, approved by the San Antonio City Council on Thursday, will allow the City to gather ridership data and study how the vehicles are being used “to get a better understanding of what the impact is on the city of San Antonio, our streets, and citizens,” said John Jacks, director of the Center City Development and Operations Department. “In six months we’ll have a much better idea … whether or not we need to make any adjustments.”

The City will not require riders to wear helmets, and while scooters can be ridden on sidewalks or roads, riders should use bike lanes when available. The pilot program also establishes operating fees and $50 impoundment fines for improperly parked vehicles. City Council could choose to establish a permanent ordinance after the pilot program.

Los Angeles-based Bird in June deployed hundreds of e-scooters in downtown San Antonio. San Mateo, California-based LimeBike then released hundreds of its own e-scooters a month later. The scooter fleet has gradually increased and spread to other parts of the city.

Some of the rules e-scooter companies and riders will have to observe during the six-month program include:

  • $10 fee per vehicle and a $500 application fee for e-scooter vendors. For example, Bird would pay the City $17,500 to operate its 1,700 scooters in the city.
  • Each permitted scooter company is required to have a San Antonio-based fleet manager and will share monthly data on usage, violations, and trips.
  • Each operator must include rider safety information, such as where riding is barred and how to lawfully park, in its app.
  • Riders must be at least 16 years old and cannot travel on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour and higher.
  • A two-foot walk path must be maintained for pedestrians on sidewalks.
  • Parking guidelines require scooters to be placed in an orderly and upright fashion and a three-foot clearance for pedestrians must be provided on sidewalks.

Scooter vendors will have two hours to correct any violations and one hour when violations occur in prohibited areas. The City is encouraging residents to contact the scooter companies directly – and has mandated the placement of a 24-hour number on every vehicle – so that any misconduct or parking issues can be reported. Residents can also call 311 to report any improper use.

What the City will not regulate at this point is the number of scooters allowed in the city. Cities such as Austin and San Francisco have capped the number of vehicles that can be operated. Jacks said the City does not yet have enough data to set a reasonable cap.

The City also will not place geographic boundaries on e-scooter vendors. In the future, Jacks said companies could use GPS-based geofencing technology to prevent riding and parking in sensitive areas.

Earlier this year, the app-enabled e-scooters began appearing in major urban centers throughout the country. While riders have enthusiastically embraced them, the scooters have angered some residents for their public safety and accessibility implications. Several San Antonians have testified in public meetings that they have seen or experienced near-collisions with e-scooters riders on the sidewalk. Scooters have also been found in or near ramps for residents who use wheelchairs.

Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8) said he has heard from constituents who say the scooters have become a nuisance.

“Prior city councils had to deal with the advent of cars, carriages, and people on roller skates,” Pelaez said, adding that accidents are caused by people not following the rules or exercising common sense. “Our job is to ensure more people are safe, and this technology is here to stay no matter what we do. The best thing sometimes is to accept the cards that have been dealt to us and try to adapt.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he receives many messages on social media sites from residents who have photographed improperly parked scooters. The best way for residents to respond, Nirenberg said, has been to ask the companies nicely to clean up the mess.

"On Oct. 12, we stop asking nicely," he said.

31 thoughts on “City Council’s OK Rolls Out Rules for Dockless E-Scooters

  1. One more time, I strongly suggest that these scooters don’t belong on the riverwalk downtown. The sidewalks are already narrow enough as it is and people speed through those things without a worry in the world of pedestrians.

    • The City put up signs last week banning motorized vehicles on the Riverwalk. The number of scooters there has plummeted. I gave the message to couple who hadn’t heard.

  2. These scooters are dangerous! Riders think they have the right away to do anything. Who will be enforcing and writing tickets to the drivers? Groupings are getting bigger and bigger…no room for anyone to walk without having to go around them. How are the bikes doing?

  3. The scooters all have clearly posted rules on them. They are not meant to be ridden on the Riverwalk, it wont be allowed in the future and I as a charger for the company am all for that. I find it odd that you are trying to punish the companies for the lack of common sense of the public. I see people run red lights on these scooters all the time and drive way to fast on sidewalks, rules in place will now give the police an opportunity to fine the renters of the scooters. A little common sense on the part of my fellow chargers for instance where we drop the scooters and how they are placed will go a long way. I love what the Mayor stated, but when do you ask the public to have common courtesy and start punishing the public for not being decent.

  4. Let’s keep Riverwalk area/Downtown Scooter free. We have a pretty “walkable” area that tourists LOVE to visit and they bring their money to spend in our city. It is a major irritant to walk around and try to enjoy city sights while having to keep an eye out for scooters whizzing by. Especially when you are holding the hand of a child. I have experienced and witnessed children coming extremely close to being hit by these scooters repeatedly and the rider truly believes they are in the right.

  5. Once again we saw scooters racing down the River Walk through the King William district at about 10 pm last night. This also happens during daylight hours. The councilman’s office tells us that that bicycles, Segways, and scooters are already prohibited on the River Walk by a current ordinance. To our knowledge, this ordinance is not, and has never been, enforced. Short of geo-fencing or constant Park Police patrols, how will scooters be kept off the River Walk? Regarding reporting incidents to 311– when I called to report scooter parking violations last week, the very nice 311 operator provided me with the phone numbers for Bird and Lime. I was told that, because 311 does not handle scooter complaints, it keeps no statistics on these calls. Surely this needs to change– or be clarified so the public understands there is no point to calling 311– that the only statistics will come from the companies self-reporting.

    • Bikes are allowed on the Riverwalk at least the museum reach. There are signs all over that state to share the sidewalk with riders and walkers (and runners). It’s morterized vehicles that are not allowed. The worst offense however are the dogs on retractable leashes! Keep you dogs on short leashes please! I’ve had too many experiences of tripping on dogs gone wild leashes while running on the Riverwalk.

  6. As a pedestrian I have to be on the constant lookout for bicyclists, skateboards, segways and now scooters on downtown sidewalks.
    I find this to be not only annoying, but dangerous as well.
    Since scooter drivers are exempt from having to wear helmets, are they obligated to adhere to traffic laws?

  7. As I was driving out Broadway late yesterday afternoon, I saw a young woman on a scooter run the red light at the corner of McCullough and Broadway. She ran into a young man on a bicycle, who had the right-of-way, and then jumped off the scooter and began to argue with him for the collusion, which was entirely her fault. I also think it is pretty ludicrous for us to be talking about restoring the sanctity of the Alamo area, while we are allowing scooter riders all over the place. I see them ditched wherever the money ran out; parking them in the proper place seems to be too much to expect of the users. Surely, we can find some way to use these transportation devices in a manner that adds to the “charm” of our city, rather than destroy it. I remain astounded.

  8. Really? And where are the rules? It seems the city just rolled back rules (including helmets). As with the commenter above, I remain astounded.

    But even more astounded with the comments made in the article by D(8) councilman Manny Pelaez :
    “Prior city councils had to deal with the advent of cars, carriages, and people on roller skates,” Pelaez said, adding that accidents are caused by people not following the rules or exercising common sense. “Our job is to ensure more people are safe, and this technology is here to stay no matter what we do. The best thing sometimes is to accept the cards that have been dealt with us and try to adapt.”

    People in District 8 elected him to do what….to tell them to adapt to the cards they are dealt with instead of intervening on behalf of the concerns of his constituents? My observations of the people on these scooters is that common sense is in short supply. Meanwhile, I will continue to take observations for my documentary entitled: Evolution in action – Survival of the fittest on the streets of San Antonio (those in cars and who care to walk).

  9. Please post all direct phone contact numbers in the Revard Report for placing complaints for the e-scooter companies operating in San Antonio.

    Ms. Pfeiffer was correct in wasting my time and the City’s time calling 311.

  10. Look I agree with most postings. I’m tired of them thrown around. The city should impound, charge the company, the company then charges the user, that simple. I want progress but these kids that ride them have no sense of respect or responsibility. Let’s give it a shot. Let’s see what the city does before we all condem this new fad. I do believe no Riverwalk access allowed, maybe allow on mission reach, but not Southtown or downtown. This does lead to the city adding more bike lanes. I will continue to honk at the reckless scotters, continue to take the ride away on sidewalks, so let’s see what happens. Let’s all call 311 or the Scooter company on infractions. The more we report the more data will be accumulated. Let’s give it a try.

  11. It is great to see all of the people choosing to take a scooter rather than a vehicle for short trips – fewer VMT, improved air quality, more parking available downtown and less damage to roadways. Less cars on the street = increased safety for bikers and pedestrians. The city should consider paying Bird to have the scooters available rather than the other way around.

    • Agree! We already have high pollution levels downtown. I live at pearl and love the opertunity to grab a scooter and go. Haven’t had any problems with them at all on either side- riding or while driving downtown. It’s an adjustment. And the benefits far outweigh the negotives.

  12. When I was downtown last weekend and was ready to catch the bus to return home, the stop on Market in front of the Briscoe Museum Sculpture Garden had 5 Bird scooters lined up nicely, just as the rules require, BUT RIGHT WHERE THE BUS DOOR WOULD BE FOR A BUS STOPPING THERE!!! Curbs at bus stops should be off limits for distributing or parking scooters.

  13. They should not be allowed at the Pearl. We enjoy shopping , walking our dog , having dinner at one of the restaurants there.
    Now you have to be hyper vigilant and gone is the relaxed atmosphere because of people on these scooters who feel we should watch out for them.

    • Agree! We already have high pollution levels downtown. I live at pearl and love the opertunity to grab a scooter and go. Haven’t had any problems with them at all on either side- riding or while driving downtown. It’s an adjustment. And the benefits far outweigh the negotives.

    • Sorry for the last reply. Weird technology posted it to the wrong place.

      What I meant to reply to you is that I highly disagree. We live at pearl and love the opertunity to grab a scooter and go. Beats driving. Most residence I know feel the same way. No one I know has had any problems with scooters at Pearl. Enforcing the age limit will help with most of your stated issues.

  14. Scooter Tipping is going to become a sport for walkers encountering scooter riders. Just give the lazy scooter riders that get in your face a forearm or shoulder and see how long it takes for them to stay away from your personal space.

  15. Based on a report by ER drs in Los Angeles, the home of Bird, they see 2 to 3 scooter accident victims a day.. A lot of them are TBI’s which is a result of no helmets… it’s becoming enough of a problem when ER drs express concern.. .. Sept 21 I saw a woman who had been riding a scooter and had been in an accident at St Mary’s/ Josephine, several pedestrians and scooters were in the area..same night, a Lime one was broken in half across from LuLus on the sidewalk . .. with proper planning, which apparently the city did not utilize, scooters, ebikes have a place in core urban downtown areas as a replacement for autos., (shutting down Alamo Plaza is the first step) , but, if you can’t ride a bike on the sidewalk, why a much faster scooter??? … imagine several city blocks with no cars, people getting around a lot faster, with a lot less noise and pollution..But, I would still rather ride a bike..

  16. I work smack dab in the middle of downtown.
    I marvel at the behaviors of a small minority of riders. However we have far to many policies and ordinances that cater to the idiot 10%. While I will never ride one I don’t want to see them over restricted. I think the rules proposed are a commons sense approach.

    About helmets, I bike commuted for 20 years from Jeff area to downtown and wore a helmet once. Between my salty sweat blinding me and my reduced hearing it seemed way more risky that not wearing one. I sure don’t want scooter riders imparied by these same factors.

  17. Mr Mayor, it sounds like the city allowed these scooters to be deployed without clear rules or guidelines, and it is clearly the city’s responsibility to get them all rounded up with strict enforcement of the rules moving forward. Young people are obviously the primary users. There needs to be consequences for misuse.

  18. I live downtown at Pearl Brewery. Love the opertunity to grab a scooter for short commutes downtown. Have never had an issue or have had any problems with scooter riders at Pearl. We have had more issues with loud motorcycles who insist on revving their motors at crazy hours or dog owners who tie their dog up to a chair in front of local, letting the dog bark considerably and constantly while the owners has a leisurely cup of coffee inside Local. And while we are on the dog topic, please don’t use retractable leashes letting your dog run free in front of runners, cyclists, other dogs, and yes scooters. Please keep them on a short lease. I’ve seen way more incidents with dogs on crazy long retractable leashes than I have with scooters!

  19. One more time…WE NEED THESE SCOOTERS…EVERYWHERE. It’s call progress. We need less SLOW expensive boat rides and dogs owners on the river.

    DOGS Owners with extendable leashes are the worst. DANGEROUS to all walkers and runners. The owners carelessly let their dog roam aimlessly without any care in the world of others walk and or running. PLUS, they don’t pick up their dog’s messes.

    Scooters are a cheap and easy form of transportation that everyone can use.

  20. DOG OWNERS are the problems. TIP to DOG OWNERS: When you walk with your dog or DOGS keep them to the right side of you and AWAY from passers by like 1) Faster Walkers without dogs, 2) Runners, 3) Bicyclists and or 4) Scooter TAXIS. You see, the loan dog owner is the problem. NOT the rest of society that happens to live life a little faster. #KeepYourDogsOnTheRight & #KeepYourDogsOnAShortLeash

  21. I heard the mayor talk about the new regulations last week and felt pretty confident – until I got on the road. Suddenly I was sharing the streets with scooters.

    I was wrapped in steel, seat-belted in and protected by airbags. The scooter was protected by…

    This made no sense. Are we really protecting their safety? Is that our job?

  22. the scooters are fun.
    the scooters are a reality for modern cities – especially cities with massive tourism expectations .

    yall chill

  23. Where are scooter racks where the scooters can be placed? People cannot seem to figure where to place scooters on their own. What about people in wheelchairs who cannot move the scooters out of their way. Do they just go out in the street to get around the scooters? I wonder when people will just start throwing the things in the river out of frustration.

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