Proposed regulations on electric scooters: What you need to know

Proposed pilot program to last six months

By Ivan Herrera - Web Producer, Garrett Brnger - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Thousands of people have been using electric scooters all over San Antonio since June without many rules to govern them — until now.

Proposed regulations for scooters and other dockless vehicles were brought before the City Council on Wednesday.

Bird and Lime are the scooter companies currently operating in the Alamo City. Bird has about 1,700 scooters, and Lime has about 300 in the market.

Other companies, such as Blue Duck, Razor USA, Spin, Skip and Zagster have expressed interest in operating in San Antonio.

A survey of 3,800 people showed that about 55 percent of people view dockless vehicles as “very positive,” with less than 10 percent of people viewing them as “very negative.”

The recommended proposed regulations include starting a pilot program in which dockless vehicle companies would be charged $10 for each vehicle, along with a vendor application fee of $500 for six months. A vehicle relocation fee would cost the company $50 per incident. There would be no cap on the number of vehicles or vendors in the city.

The companies would have to maintain a fleet manager based in the city, and there would be geographical limitations to where the scooters can go.

The city would require companies to churn out monthly reports on usage, violations and trip data. It would also require the vendors’ apps to educate riders on safety, areas where riding is not allowed and safe and lawful parking.

Proposed recommendations on safe riding provided by the city:

  • Minimum age requirement of 16 years old.

  • Dockless vehicles must always yield to pedestrians.

  • Riders must utilize bike lanes when available. In the absence of a bike lane, the rider must use their best judgment when deciding whether to use the street or sidewalk.

  • If they use the sidewalk, they must maintain a two-foot walk path for pedestrians.

  • The vehicle can only be ridden on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less.

  • Vehicles must have a light on the front and a red light on the back.

  • Vehicles must have a bell, horn or other sound mechanism.

Proposed recommendations on parking provided by the city:

  • Dockless vehicles may be parked on sidewalk as long as three feet remain clear for pedestrian traffic.

  • Exclusions to parking bicycles or scooters on sidewalks:

  • Within eight feet of a bus stop pole or bus shelter;
  • In commercial or pedestrian loading zones;
  • Within four feet of street furniture that requires pedestrian access, such as benches, parking pay stations and transit information signs;
  • Interfering with a curb ramps, entryways, or driveways;
  • Within eight feet of a building entrance.
  • Riders may park in a bike rack, but they may not park in a B-Cycle docking station

  • Riders may not park in parks, plazas or on trails including Alamo Plaza, La Villita, Main Plaza, Market Square on the River Walk or any other prohibited areas.

The city of San Antonio said city code currently prohibits electric motorized vehicles on the River Walk, trails, creek ways and in parks. Riding on public streets that intersect parks and plazas is allowed.

A few hours after the City Council heard the proposed regulations, they heard from residents about the scooters. Several people voiced concerns about riders on sidewalks and how the parked scooters can block the path.

After being asked about the concerns following the hearing, Tech Bloc CEO and scooter proponent David Heard said people need to understand that the current scooter environment is unregulated.

“The ordinance, as proposed, has a lot of those concerns addressed,” Heard said.

The City Council is expected to vote on the regulations on Oct.11, and Heard thinks they will go forward with it.

“Let's put some basic structure in place and see how that works,” Heard said. “I think that's how they're looking at it, and then they'll come back and tweak it if they need to.”

To learn about the other recommendations proposed by the city, see below or click here.

Dockless Vehicles 

Information provided by the City of San Antonio 

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