- They mentioned several companies that were waiting for permits to launch, and applauded companies like Scoot (which is planning to launch e-bikes) and Waybots for working with them.
- They mentioned that SFMTA was first contacted about these scooters to in February and immediately began working on a permit process which is due to begin next month. That's light speed for a government agency.
- The only reason there was a sudden rush in deployment was that one company (Bird or Lime) decided to jump the gun and launch on St. Patrick's Day. The others that deployed didn't want to lose first mover advantage. At least one of these three hadn't even contacted SFMTA until after deployment.
- Lime did not even send a representative to the meeting at all. Apparently they decided to just contact TechCrunch after the fact.
The supervisors were rough on them and Aaron Peskin even had the nerve to call them "techbros", but they brought this on themselves by trying to use the old "move fast and break things" play that this city has seen before.
The idea of an "ownernless" vehicle is flawed. They seem cheap, and so they are a treated like trash. Only if the companies picked them everyday to charge, repair, and redistributed would this work. That maygive them some intrinsic value, and people might respect them enough to not properly park and care for them. However, this is not the case. No one wants a business whose model is to litter the city with trash.
Level playing field? It sounds like several companies did the right thing and worked with the authorities to make sure they didn't cause trouble, and then the three in TFA jumped the gun and launched anyway.
As a governing body, you can't allow that precedent to stand. If "ignore regulations and do it anyway" becomes an optimal strategy then everyone will do it and your commons will be tragic.
If you have a permit for an activity, it's harder for the agency issuing the permit to argue you are acting without legal permission by doing the activity which the permit permits.
Hence, the name “permit”.
Because then the city council would be receiving the tax revenue (permit fees) it feels it is due for /authorizing/ the launch to occur.
There is only so much bandwidth for modes of transportation that cannot allow leisez-fair transit to run amok in the city. Proceed with a well developed plan with all stakeholders in mind.
Is your argument that, until the homeless problem is dealt with, we should stop doing _anything_ else? I'm not sure that helps.
Do we give a pass to local government to get very sober about scooters being bad for sidewalks while the elephant in the room smells like stale urine and can give you hepatitis?
New entrants have to cede priority to established systems and work within a framework to augment the systems -- else we end up with things like the millions of dead ebikes we see in China, for example.
We end up with things like this in America too: https://slate.com/business/2018/04/astounding-photos-capture...
Would you rather those people in the scooters drive?
However, street parking has been a 3rd rail of local politics in American cities. Demographics are pointing to change: last year SF added 8,500 residents but car registrations dropped by 1,800. More protected bike lanes, less personal cars, more ride sharing/autonomous cars and more scooters is the future - most boomer politicians running American cities today just don’t get this yet - they and their friends live in highly appreciated SFHs,have a personal car and a place to store said car, maintain a low prop13 tax rate, and reminisce of 1974 when people were moving out of cities and they could always find free parking right in front of their favorite restaurant. But the demographics are changing, our streets will transform as a result and for the sake of our planet, it couldn’t happen soon enough
These companies have done things which violate the government's rules.
Imagine a bug where you fix it incorrectly and it spawns Two more bugs. That is what is going on here, and being discussed in this post.
How should technology companies work with governments when both:
A- deployment of their tech is most likely to violate the law, and
B- the Market Opportunity is most likely to be spoiled by a competitor deploying first
What should that company do? Break things and ask for forgiveness? Budget for lawsuits and ship first? Or adhere to the law, working with the system?
Sometimes SF is an infuriating place.
They are giving the companies plenty of time to respond with a plan to address that issue. They're not going to be shut down. They just need to be more responsible for the impact on public places, because we humans are sadly too self-focused to b conscientious.
Hell, the city will probably build more bike racks to accommodate them.
a few left out of place
You could travel around the city, leave your bike there, and come back and continue your journey!
store them with ease at the side of the street; perhaps paying a fee while they use the land
Which would be handy, but it wouldn't scale well from a business standpoint.
This is hilarious. People are mowed down by cars every day, but somehow scooters being left in annoying areas is the issue?
An image search turns up more instances:
And: for the record, I bike, and have done so for decades. It's fair to recognise real problems, however, and not trivialise or dismiss them uncharitably.
These dockless systems are simply a way to move the negative externalities of the system onto the taxpayer. They clutter sidewalks, result in poor rider behavior, and generate massive amounts of e-waste.
Sometimes, SF actually makes the right call.
What really soured me is the quality of machines that have been out of on the streets. Anecdata, but in 12 total rides for me, I've had a scooter that had 1) a hand brake with zero functioning ability 2) a throttle that stuck on as far as the user had pushed it 3) a missing bell. Unluckily, first block on that no brakes scooter was downhill and I dug a heal into the asphalt and eventually did a running dismount to avoid rolling into fast moving perpendicular traffic in Civic Center. Sticky throttle scooter caused an uncontrolled skid. Missing bell was a missing bell. But c'mon, these machines had been used for 10 days and they're having critical safety/maintenance issues. These are the worst possible mistakes, and could easily turn fatal.
LimeBike shirked responsibility and their ops manager gave me a "LimeBike Saboteur Theory" over the phone. Bird took hours to disable a a scooter that i was desperately trying to tell them was dangerous to the next rider. Forget sidewalks, these are dangerous vehicles in their current state. You know how Ford bikes feel like tanks relative to a road bike? These scooters also need to be 10x more robust than what's in private use.
Edit: when I say that the sidewalk cluttering is a non-issue, I just mean that as far as I can tell there is barely any sidewalk cluttering, not that said cluttering wouldn't be an issue if it was actually happening.
Slip and fall are a major cause of death, only second in accidental deaths after motor vehicles. It brings 8M americans to the emergency room every year. In San Francisco, a whole department has been created only to litigate Slips and Falls.
So yes, I'm glad the city prevented my grandmother from tripping on such a thing.
https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-fa... - quotes almost 3 million older adults per year.
But you know what? I'm pretty tolerant, and I'm willing to put up with a little mild inconvenience that allows other people to make their lives significantly easier. I wish everyone else felt likewise.
It's as much of a danger as a grandma (not to say there aren't badass grandmas) riding a bicycle.
I'm shocked to be reading this argument over and over today. That's about enforcing the law against stupid riders. Not companies trying to create a business model for shared bikes.
I have no dog in this fight; I don’t live in SF. I just find it curious that dangerous, incredibly polluting and inefficient vehicles get grandfathered in, and the big gripe with these companies are “clutter”. Seems odd to me, is all.
To give context on my threshold for things "feeling dangerous", I used to be a bike messenger in NYC.
I’m glad there were actually some companies that waited to test out their products and work with SFMTA.
This unregulated ship fast theme is no different than handling personal data irresponsibly. Companies that don’t care about the public and only their bottom line should be penalized.
Bird requires US licence to use (lol), although manually entering garbage data let me use for single use. Had much better acceleration, but a protruding control box felt a bit annoying.
Both scooters miss hardware locking feature. As a tourist it's common to drain your phone battery to dead leaving you with no way to end your ride. Also, it would be nice to unlock multiple scooters with single phone. Lack of suspension is sometimes uncomfortable, but not too bad.
Safety-wise I've felt probably just as worried as in any foreign city on a bicycle - not great, but city traffic is slow enough to make it ok.
Overall I was super satisfied, can't wait for them to appear everywhere (and get better top speed).
Much in the same way that if you rent a Zipcar and its acceleration is poor, blame Ford or Toyota or whoever made the car that you rented, not Zipcar.
Doesn't matter if its a shared car, scooter, etc, if its creating loud noises late into the night and its owners are unresponsive, report it. I've done that a few times for Car2Go and ReachNow's.
It feels like we are totally duped into paying more and more taxes while continually lowering our expectations, although I always feel this way during tax season :p.
Sharing them means less bikes left everywhere.
As a user of both, the Scooter experience is 50x better. Just not even on the same level. I agree some regulation is needed to prevent massive clutter and keep the sidewalks safe, but I've had zero issues with people while a rider, or with riders while a pedestrian.
“creating a public nuisance on The City’s streets and sidewalks and endangering public health and safety.”
The big issue I see with them is that the people riding them are often unsafe. They don't come with helmets. I've also seen some pretty reckless driving, both in traffic and on the sidewalk.
FWIW, I think dockless bike/scooter share is a great idea, but having seen what a mess it has become in China, there do need to be some ground rules so that pedestrians aren’t having to step over piles of them to walk down the street.
Yeah, they’re kind of a pain to deal with them sometimes, but it turns out you can just move the bikes, and walk or ride around the piles. I have yet to see anyone get stuck in a pile. And somehow even people that don’t use the bikes seem to be able to lend some value to the idea that other people do (this was very strange to me at first, having grown up in the Bay Area).
Beijing is pretty much the perfect city for them though... completely flat and ridiculous spacious and open (except parts of the old city). I can see it being more painful in tighter cities. But they’ll figure the piles problem out; it’s already gotten better, and the net benefit has been pretty large.
Someone abandoned one on a ferry, prompting a $17,000 search:
... and piles of them are being left in people’s yards, too: http://amp.kiro7.com/www.kiro7.com/news/local/dozens-of-lime...
There is a very significant aspect of externalities happening here, in my opinion.
Seattle's current adoption of bike sharing is, in large part, an effort to reduce carbon emissions and too make more use of our roads. I am 100% for doing both of these things, but I think Bike Share programs are not the best path. Deals where University of Washington Medical Center provides employees (noticeable) extra pay for biking to work, and removing minimum parking laws in more areas are the best way to move away from car transport. Even the downtown toll will be more effective at reducing car rides than bike share programs. Bike shares pollute sidewalks, are too slow for any distance more than two miles, and too heavy for going up Seattle's hills. In addition I believe they encourage the dangerous (and locally illegal) practice of biking without a helmet. Finally, I think Seattle's DoT has higher expectations for bike share programs than will actually pan out. I wish data on their usage was more public.
The helmet issue is mostly something to try to get at biking people, it is not a public health issue. That why all warning are worded along the line: “helmet prevent head injuries” (like knee pad limit knee injuries), and not “helmet improves general outcomes”.
Most studies agree that head injury absent a car strike are rare and are compensated by the long term benefits over the population. The most dangerous thing in a bike is the surrounding cars.
People get very doctrinaire about wearing helmets for specific activities. Not that long ago, people never used to wear helmets downhill skiing unless they were racing. Now they're common and, for some people, are something that it's reckless not to wear.
At least traditional helmets just don't fit with bike share and scooter share services. Maybe some of the flexible materials like D3O make sense for this sort of application as a compromise.
I agree. I don't bike on streets but I do wear a helmet when I do bike.
>we should not allow business to operate if they encourage biking without a helmet
The problem is that this is effectively equivalent to saying bike-sharing should be banned, especially dockless bike sharing (because they're probably not interesting to many given, say, strict enforcement of helmet laws). I'm not sure that's a nudge that "makes society better."
Yeah, I said this in my root comment. I hope the city I live in bans bike shares like SF did. I addressed more issues than the helmet there too.
Edit: Reasons why I don't like bike shares as mentioned in the root comment.
* I think local DOT is expecting more ridership than will happen. This will cause us to miss our carbon reduction goals.
* They consume sidewalk space
* Heavy bikes are a bad option for a hilly rainy city. Rain gear and lighter multi speed bikes are required to effectively bike here.
Perhaps bicyclist are more likely to have a head injury if they are struck by a car. I share roadways and crosswalks to with cars when I ride.
If we did a study that compared helmeted pedestrians to unhelmeted pedestrians, I'm sure the latter would fare better in terms of head injuries.
Yet no one wears a helmet while walking and no one thinks Nike is irresponsible to sell you shoes that don't include a helmet.
The 2010 515,000 bicycle related injuries required ER attention,  so the problem is significant enough in size to merit policy. The single biggest risk factor for death or disability in bicycle accidents is head trauma, and helmets are highly effective at reducing the risk of head trauma in bicyclist.  Bicycle helmets are a cheap and effective preventive measure to a real public health problem.
If they want to disseminate their vehicles around public spaces so much better but they must at least coordinate with the administrators to do it in an orderly fashion.
IOW, get a permit, pay rent and install sidewalk parking racks. Public free ones are for occasional individual use.
What keeps them from being stolen and the GPS disabled?
(Neither for nor against - just an observation)
That’s a wreckless combination the world isn’t ready for.
Looks like SF is in good hands.
I thought Bird, Lime and Spin in the title was a firm of lawyers or maybe PR people. Could you adjust the title to "e-scooter rental startups get cease and desist orders from SF City" or something. :-)
Among other things, on 6th street there are people sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk, peeing on walls, camping in front of liquor stores and barbecuing illegally on the sidewalk (!) in broad daylight. Yet the fabulous city administration considers electrical scooters to be the topic of the day.
Seriously though, why rely on the vagaries of supply and demand on somebody's network, and their maintenance diligence and so on, for a thing that you can own so cheaply, and always have there when you need it? It just has never made sense to me.
The exception of course is for tourists who didn't bring their scooters or bikes along. I have considered it in that case... though never actually did it. I just walked.
1. No money down: a decent bike is $700+, a bike share is $3 per ride or under $100 per year
2. No maintenance: someone else keeps the tires full and the chain lubed. If something breaks, you just park the bike and get another one.
3. No theft: bikes get stolen when they are parked. When a bike share is parked, it’s not your problem.
4. No parking hassles: finding a safe place to park your bike in the city is tough. Many buildings don’t provide bike storage. Try carrying your bike up and down from a 5th floor walk-up every day.
5. One-way trip: you rode to work this morning, and now it’s raining. No problem, take the bus home.
Don’t believe me, just ask New Yorkers, who are taking an average of 40,000 rides per day on the city’s 12,000 citibikes.
1. My current bike cost $550 new, 6 years ago, so that would've been less than $100/yr, if I hadn't replaced parts and spent more. But I get unlimited rides. And it'll last another 20 years if I'm not a fad-follower and don't get reckless or unlucky.
2. I do it myself, that way I'm the one in control of when it fails to get done.
3. Always lock it. Never had a problem. Having a cheap $550 bike probably helps.
4. Yep America's like that. I carry mine up & down from the 3rd floor. If I move I'll choose not to live above the 3rd floor. Or maybe I'll live on the 5th floor after all, and become a bad-ass with huge calves and five flights of endurance.
5. I wear rain gear.
While this is its main use, it's also a great alternative to riding your own bike in cases where you want extra flexiblity - as referred to in point 5 in the list above - not only for changes in weather, but also when you want to travel out and back through some asymmetric combination of biking, walking, public transit, and Uber/Lyft. This flexibility can be very liberating.
It's also a useful temporary backup when your bike is broken.
> 4. Yep America's like that. I carry mine up & down from the 3rd floor. If I move I'll choose not to live above the 3rd floor. Or maybe I'll live on the 5th floor after all, and become a bad-ass with huge calves and five flights of endurance.
As I'm sure you'd recognize, there are many people (e.g. the not-so-fit) and situations (e.g. fancy clothes and dirty bike, or also having other things to carry) for which this isn't practical.
Obvious use cases for bike sharing is when you only need to ride a bike one way (so not a return trip) which happens very often actually (i.e. I sometimes ride a bike to a shopping mall but once I do my shopping I have to carry 2 full bags of groceries and other basic items so there's no way I'm riding a bike back, I'd get a cab).
If you plan on walking somewhere for 20 minutes but once you're there you can take tube from there home as it's close to a tube station, another use case. People who live in apartments and don't have storage place to keep a bike. An so on, use cases are plenty which is evidenced by the fact that millions of people use bike sharing in Asia but also other places on a daily bases.