For those of you keeping track of the scooter saga in San Francisco, Supervisor Aaron Peskin has filed a resolution in opposition of California State Assembly bill 2989. The bill, authored by Assembly Member Heath Flora and sponsored by electric scooter startup Bird, seeks to allow top speeds of 20 mph, let people ride them on sidewalks and only require minors to wear helmets.
“It is disturbing that the same companies and investors who have pledged to work with the City to respect California public safety and public realm laws are spending lobbying dollars in Sacramento to repeal them,” Peskin told TechCrunch via email. “San Francisco is a Transit First City and has committed to some of the strictest environmental and Vision Zero protections in the state. AB 2989 would dismantle those hard-fought protections, and send a message that seniors, parents with kids and the disabled aren’t welcome on San Francisco’s sidewalks.”
But Bird says the intent of the pending legislation is to bring e-scooters into parity with e-bikes.
“It also empowers cities and municipalities in California to pass whatever rules are best for their communities including where to ride an e-scooter,” Bird spokesperson Kenneth Baer told TechCrunch in an email. “We think that is the best approach for cities — as well as riders — and an approach that most cities in California prefer when it comes to policymaking. If there are language improvements to make it clear that cities should be able to set ridership rules, then we are open to that.”
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and the Municipal Transportation Agency are actively creating a permitting process to better regulate scooters. The intent is to ensure “sensible, regulatory frameworks,” Peskin said earlier this week. In legislative meetings earlier this week, members of the public and supervisors expressed concerns pertaining to people operating scooters on sidewalks, as well as people riding them without helmets. This bill, introduced back in February, would essentially enable the opposite of what San Francisco envisions.
“While San Francisco policymakers pursue common sense regulation of standup electronic scooters to enhance the public benefit of this new shared mobility technology and to reduce potential harm to the public, state legislators seek to eliminate elements of the Vehicle Code that exist to protect the health and safety of members of the public including users of standup electric scooters,” Peskin wrote in his resolution.