San Antonio City Council To Vote on Banning Scooter Riding on Sidewalks

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San Antonio City Council will take a vote May 30 on whether to approve the ban of scooters on sidewalks.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

San Antonio City Council will take a vote May 30 on whether to approve the ban of scooters on sidewalks.

The popular electric scooters and bikes that have pervaded the city in the past year would be restricted to street use only under a proposal set to be considered later this month.

San Antonio City Council will vote May 30 on an earlier proposed contraction in the number of companies and vehicles operating in the city. A vote to ban scooters from being ridden on the sidewalk is expected to come in October when the Council will consider contracting with select scooter-sharing vendors.

“A lot of folks have been vocal about [riding on the sidewalks],” said Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4), who chairs the committee that heard the initial staff recommendation in April. Saldaña said he supports barring users of such dockless vehicles from riding on the sidewalk.

“We have work to do [to improve rider safety], but we shouldn’t be doing it at the expense of the pedestrian on the sidewalk,” he added.

The proposal also would limit the number of operators to three and vehicles to 5,000 citywide in an effort to improve safety and reduce sidewalk clutter. Operators would be selected through a competitive bid process.

Director of the Center City Development and Operations Department John Jacks.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Director of the Center City Development and Operations Department John Jacks

“We feel that three vendors is a good balance,” said John Jacks, director of the Center City Development and Operations department, which oversees the dockless vehicle program, at a City Council meeting Wednesday. “It allows for competition in the market, but it also allows us to manage the [local fleet]. We think operating with three vendors we can work much more closely with them and get much better results.”

The 5,000-vehicle cap is about on par with the number of vehicles that have been deployed in March and April alone.

More than 16,000 vehicles currently are permitted among operators Bird, Lime, Razor, Blue Duck Scooters, Uber-owned Jump, Lyft, and Ford-owned Spin. The latter company just launched its local operations on Monday. Although the City earlier this year issued a moratorium on new permit applications for its six-month program for piloting scooter regulation, Spin had submitted its application before the cutoff.

Should the Council approve the recommendations later this month, the City would pare down the number of permitted vehicles by half while companies were bidding to operate.

While the smartphone app-enabled vehicles can travel from 15 to 20 miles per hour, the proposal Council will vote on calls for a 15-mph speed limit.

According to a staff presentation, 155 calls have been made to local emergency responders regarding scooter accidents. About half of those calls resulted in hospitalization.

Jacks said a curfew approved earlier this year has curbed the number of injuries that have resulted from late-night scooter use. The Council in February approved scooter operating hours from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Significant support exists for barring sidewalk riding, according to a survey of more than 4,600 San Antonio residents.

Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7) said the scooter debate has brought a strong impetus to invest in infrastructure improvements, including enhanced sidewalks and more bicycle lanes. Agreeing with Sandoval, Mayor Ron Nirenberg reflected on former City Manager Alex Briseño’s decades-old call to widen city sidewalks. He was right, Nirenberg said.

“We should have built our sidewalks wider,” he said. “We should take a lesson in that.”

25 thoughts on “San Antonio City Council To Vote on Banning Scooter Riding on Sidewalks

  1. For those of us living downtown the scooter riders have taken over the sidewalks and I have been knocked down once and have had many near misses. The riders are far more dangerous to pedestrians than the danger to them and they belong on the street since they are motorized vehicles.

  2. Yesterday I saw a very large man fall off his scooter. As he fell, he knocked a pedestrian lady down and into the street. Fortunately the cars were able to stop and not hit either of them, but it could easily have resulted in both being run over. The man struggled to get up, finally did, but didn’t even try to check on the lady. She was finally helped up by others on the street and limped over to a bench where she sat down. I was driving and there was no place for me to pull over to help her. These damn scooters have no business in our city.

  3. We can pass all the rules and laws that you want about these blasted scooters, but until you come up with a realistic manner of actually enforcing those rules/laws, they mean nothing.

  4. The companies will need to be required to put stickers on each scooter/bike saying stating: “Street use ONLY. Fines for off-street use start at $___,” and the city will need to set fine levels for not following that regulation. Then they need to emphasize the importance of police giving tickets to anyone found on such vehicles on sidewalks or the River Walk.

  5. Why do I get the feeling that the majority of the 4,600 respondents probably have never used scooters nor live in the downtown or inner suburbs where they are predominantly used? It’s a shame that scooter proponents (I am one of them, we do exist!) haven’t spoken out more loudly to support this awesome new form of easy and flexible transportation. In a city that sorely lacks walkability, the scooter provides a solution to getting around in a way that is much quicker and more enjoyable than walking and much more affordable and environmentally healthy than hopping in a car to go a short distance. I liked it when the City allowed the scooter driver to make safety decisions for him/herself when deciding whether it makes more sense to drive on the sidewalk or the road. If the City is going to force us to drive in the road with often hostile or unaware car drivers, the City should commit to investing in the creation of a much more robust system of bike/scooter lanes.

    • Agreed. thank you.
      Further – many of the people who are anti-scooter also claim to be pro-environment and want to combat climate change. Scooters are one step in the direction of improving environmental outcomes and air quality and reducing vehicle miles traveled. Every time you see a scooter, you can be assured that is one less car trip taken. I suppose the scooter complainers also complain about too much traffic.

    • 1. From the outset, scooter companies could have automatically created safety and restriction features on the scooters. Lower speed from 15mph to 8-9mph. Geofence the devices to shut off when riding on Riverwalk, Brackenridge, other spaces. They can easily charge more per ride for negligently parking the scooter in middle of sidewalk. The companies did not do that.
      2. Depend on the user to properly park and use the scooter?! LOL! Generally, people who rider these scooters are more of a risk taker (which is fine) except they tend to CARE LESS about rules and considering others’ safety, a handicap person traversing the sidewalk in a wheel chair, or a parent with stroller or young child by their side. We live in a world now where people are more concerned with looking at a screen than being in reality, so do you think those most of these scooter riders will NATURALLY adhere to best use practices? Nope. Numerous times I see parents riding tandem with their little kids or a couple riding together. Several times I have witnessed with my own eyes people getting badly injured on these scooters that move WAY too fast for new riders. MANY times I have seen riders in restricted areas (Riverwalk, parks, The Pearl). From the outset, these issues could have been avoided by responsible companies putting safety first. They didn’t do that.

      Where I agree:
      3. SA needs mandatory driver’s education courses taught in the high school. SA has some of the dumbest driving in the US.
      4. Scooters are a GREAT idea for last-mile travel, they just need strict safety measures, enforcement, and a cap of about 3,000 at most in downtown.
      5. SA NEEEEEDS dedicated bike lanes. PERIOD. Scooters would be fine in these lanes only. Let’s do it. No everyone wants a car or can afford one. Let’s make sure our reps hear this from us because safe biking/riding will help people keep in shape, reduce noise and air pollution, and add a fun travel experience to the city.

  6. As an older person living downtown I welcome the ban on scooter use on sidewalks. This should apply to bicycles as well.
    On Friday and Saturday evenings downtown becomes a chaotic amusement park. Dangerous for us older folks or people using wheelchairs.

  7. 5,000 are too many scooters unless they are all rented out daily.
    Street use only is a great law but can the police keep up with that too?

  8. Yes! Please ban scooters from sidewalks! I’m tired of nearly being hit. I work downtown and I have to deal with this all the time. The elderly and limited mobility folks especially deserve to be safe on sidewalks.

    • Updated to my original post: today I was clipped on my left foot while standing on the corner of Commerce and St. Mary’s by a young teen riding a scooter at full speed on the sidewalk. Please ban scooters from sidewalks!

  9. I’m confused…I have had limited experience -as a pedestrian-w scooters downtown…and none of it good. IMO scooter riders have brought this on themselves by their actions and inconsiderate use of sidewalks. I wholeheartedly agree they make sidewalks dangerous for those with limited mobility or those with children. But putting them in the streets? How does that make streets safer-just transferring the problem from sidewalks to streets?

    If the city wanted scooters they should have been enforcing their use-if people who enjoy scooters want to keep them teach manners to those who lack them in scooter use…including parking them properly, being aware of those who are elderly or with kids, yelling/cursing and recklessness. These things won’t change by using roads. (And yes, I know there are many responsible scooter users, but I think you are outnumbered!)

  10. I walk miles everyday with my daughter in a stroller and I live within a mile of downtown. The only sidewalk obstruction I run into daily are cars parked over the sidewalks, yet no one complains about them. I make a point to take a pic of the car obstructing the sidewalk and send it to 311, daily.
    I have never had one issue with a scooter.

  11. I’ll agree that scooters and bicycles should not be ridden on sidewalks, IF and WHEN automobiles are banned from parking in bicycle lanes.

  12. Scooters are amazing. They have saved me a lot of time, parking fees, and carbon when getting around downtown and nearby. It’s such a good experience that I’m considering buying my own and combining it with a bus ride for my daily commute.

    I have had to walk several blocks just to find one at times. I think we’ll see after whittling down to 5,000 if it is enough, but the number could be adjusted back up if there turns out to be a shortage. It may work out just fine.

    The scooters are geofenced to some extent (e.g. Pearl) and disobedient riders should be stopped and fined. I think a sidewalk ban is fine–the scooter companies actually instruct you to avoid sidewalks, but it was the City’s guidance that said to ride on sidewalks if no bike lane was available. Pedestrians are definitely put in harm’s way when a pack of scooterers zips by in a tight spot.

  13. I believe that scooters should be able to ride along the sidewalk, but only if there isn’t a bike lane available. I also believe that the companies that rent them out should have to limit the top speed to a more reasonable speed for the sidewalk (10-8mph). I don’t believe that a ban for scooters on sidewalks is a good solution for everyone.

  14. I live in the middle of downtown and I am now completely cooled to the idea of these scooters and bikes being on sidewalks. My building has a nonpublic lobby that opens out to a very public area with bus stops and restaurant entrances and I get to witness on a near daily basis scooters and e-bikes:

    1)jumbled up blocking the lobby entrance sidewalk
    2)jammed between the seats or straight up leaning on the benches at bus stops
    3)piled up at corners blocking the gentle slope that leads into the crosswalks forcing people to have to step off and onto elevated curbs to cross the road completely defeating the purpose of spending gobs of money on pedestrian safety engineering
    4)toppled over with the handle bars sticking out into the street just far enough to causes cars and bicyclists to have to ease over and straddle lane markers to avoid hitting the scooter handlebars
    5)Scooters and e-bikes falling over in a comical domino effect fashion when the wind picks up downtown
    6)unattended to scooters emitting very loud alarm noises and flashing light patterns that can be heard and seen from inside downtown residential buildings
    7)Scooters and e-bikes completely blocking the narrow sidewalks leading up to and around the Central Library
    8)Scooters and e-bikes being piled up inside the Central Library parking garage literally blocking garage entry and exits for automobile and foot traffic
    9)The scooter and e-bike workers illegally stopping in the middle of the road to service the scooters and bikes
    10)Scooters laying over in the grass and in the roads surrounding San Antonio College and all along San Pedro Avenue from frustrated pedestrians kicking them over and tossing them around
    11)The riverwalk bridges along E Pecan and Travis St. look like bike shops/skate parks, complete with beer cans and bottles right next to haphazardly parked scooters
    12)Sidewalks turned into long single file lines on Houston, Travis, Pecan St., Navarro, St. Mary’s because pedestrians have to hug the walls to accommodate this brave new skate park that we’ve found ourselves in

    Bird, Uber, Ford, Lime, and whatever other companies parading around their cleverly disguised sidewalk businesses as some eco-friendly alternative to cars, have worn out their welcome. I don’t blame the people using the scooters and e-bikes. It’s like putting a hot pizza in front of a labrador.

  15. We should require all new sidewalks and repairs to follow a wider path. The new sidewalk in front of McNay for example is nowhere near what it needs to be to make Austin Hwy a complete street. The demand for bike lanes and complete streets has outpaced the city infrastructure – this is not a good reason to restrict low carbon commercial transportation options.

  16. The scooter companies that just started all this mess by putting their machines without getting permits and permission from the City should be banned from the new permit proces in the RFP!!!

  17. I got an email last week that city employee’s will not be able to use one while on the clock due to a couple of them getting hurt during their work time, and filling workers comp claims for their injuries

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