SFMTA may give their blessing to unleash 1,250 more scooters on the city, but it appears that industry biggies Spin and Lime are still on the outs.
The urbanist alternate mobility crowd are gnashing their teeth today over the sudden removal of Ford GoBikes over a brake safety issue. But there a could be some extremely well-timed two-wheeled devices coming to the rescue. The San Francisco Chronicle has a scoop on Scoot, reporting that SFMTA is considering doubling the number of scooters permitted in an expansion of the current, fairly conservative scooter pilot program.
The bolstered fleet would not turn the city into Austin during SXSW, nor the wildly unregulated Scooterpocalypse of last year. But at a meeting next week, the SFMTA will consider allowing current permitted scooter companies Scoot and Skip to double their fleets from 625 apiece to 1,250 apiece. Very notably, the Chronicle adds that the agency is still “limiting the pilot to two companies,” which is sure to further enrage rivals Lime, Bird, and Spin.
“We’re encouraged by how it’s going,” SFMTA director of sustainable streets Tom Maguire told the Chronicle. “We’ve seen the positives of moving from a Wild West scenario to some appropriate local regulations — a decrease in sidewalk riding and illegal parking on sidewalks.”
The Chronicle notes that Scoot had only a small percentage of its fleet in circulation anyway. (Sidebar: TechCrunch notes from the SFMTA slide deck that Skip has been way more popular that Scoot in SF, but that could be due to Scoot's rollout issues.)
It’s a god damn battlefield out here pic.twitter.com/oMDe61PFKS— Scooter Nation (@ScootersSf) March 2, 2019
“We had a rough start with all the theft and vandalism and then a terribly rainy few months,” Scoot CEO Michael Keating told the paper.
Many care more about the safety ramifications of of this relatively untested new mode of transit.
The Chronicle reported in January that an SF General team is still “pulling together statistics” on scooter injuries here in the city, but points to a report from two Southern California emergency rooms saying they treated 249 scooter injuries over the course of a year.
Consumer Reports estimates 1,500 people have been injured nationwide over roughly the last two years, but notes that many hospitals don’t report these numbers. That’s far less than roughly 50,000 injuries every year for bicycles, but of course, scooters are nowhere near as widely adopted as bicycles.
And as with many things app-powered, scooter use remains dominated by the jet-set tech sector. The SFMTA is reportedly pushing for more outreach to low-income riders, in lew of scooter rider demographic survey data.
On that point, the Chron’s Carolyn Said makes a delicious statistical observation: “The survey did reinforce some stereotypes about who rides scooters. Respondents were overwhelming male (82%), white (63%) and affluent (68% had household incomes above $100,000).”