Scooter Pilot Program Kicks Off in Santa Monica, Bringing Lyft and Uber Devices

Lyft scooters parked in front of Santa Monica City Hall. Photo: Sam Catanzaro.

Two new scooter operators coming to the Westside. 

By Sam Catanzaro

Two new e-scooter and bike operators — Lyft and Jump (owned by Uber) — have begun operations on the Westside today as the City of Santa Monica begins their 16-month Shared Mobility Pilot Program.

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“Today we begin a journey down a new road of mobility,” said Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer. “We are redefining micro-mobility for communities across the country and globe.”

Santa Monica’s pilot program, which started today, allows each of the selected operators to deploy 750 devices each, totaling 1,000 e-bikes and 2,000 e-scooters. Bird and Lime will both be allocated 750 scooters each while Jump (owned by Uber) and Lyft will both get 250 scooters each. Jump and Lyft will each get 500 e-bikes.

“Santa Monica is Bird’s hometown and the birthplace of the e-scooter movement,” said Ryan Fujiu Vice President of Product and Compliance at Bird. “Santa Monica is embracing our sustainable and equitable transportation solution to measurably improve the air we breathe and how we move about our city.”

The number of scooters allocated to companies is dynamic and subject to change as operators will share data and work closely with the City to gauge the appropriated number of devices needed, depending on utilization and performance.

Lime Founder and CEO Toby Sun (front), Ryan Fujiu of Bird (middle) and Santa Monica’s Chief Mobility Officer Francie Stephan (back) take a ride on various shared mobility devices

“Each will start with an initial allocation of 750 devices and Lyft and Jump will soon be operating both e-bikes and e-scooters,” said Anuj Gupta, Santa Monica’s Deputy City Manager. “Together, we will use the data our partners share with us to assess the right balance and quantity of devices across the City.”

At the press conference this morning, City Officials acknowledged that dockless e-scooters have been a controversial and device issue in Santa Monica. The City says the pilot program has taken into consideration many of the concerns residents have raised, especially regarding unsafe riders.

“I know there has been a lot of controversy around these dockless devices. Those of us at City Hall have heard the concerns about unsafe riders for a year,” Mayor Winterer said. “With this sixteen-month pilot, the City of Santa Monica will work closely with these four operators to create a safe, manageable, sustainable way to incorporate e-scooters and e-bikes into our community.”

Gupta in his remarks made clear that the City and the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) will be enforcing both state and local laws surrounding scooter use. According to Gupta, the SMPD has issued over 1,000 citations this summer to improper scooter riders.

“We want riders in bike lanes, wearing helmets, one person to a device. E-scooter riders need to have a valid driver’s license and all e-bikes and e-scooters must stay off the prohibited areas like the beach bike path, the Promenade, our City Parks and of course the sidewalks,” Gupta said.

Representatives from the scooter companies touted the role their devices will have in helping cities like Santa Monica reduce their carbon footprint. According to Bird, since the first ten scooters landed in Santa Monica in September 2017, more than 1.7 million miles have been ridden on Birds in Santa Monica, preventing more than 1.5 million pounds of carbon emissions that would have otherwise been produced had those trips been taken by car.

Lyft shows off a scooter docking station that can be used by businesses to keep scooters parked in a neat manner

While companies like Jump, who was acquired by Uber in May, and Lyft may be funded by companies that rely on cars to make a profit, still hope that their scooters will reduce the number of trips people take in cars.

“With our bike and scooter efforts, we are hoping to reduce the number of cars on the road, increase public transportation trips and provide equitable transportation options, said David Fairbank Market Manager for Lyft Bikes & Scooters in Los Angeles.

The pilot program, which begins today, will last for sixteen months. For information on the Shared Mobility Pilot Program visit www.smgov.net/sharedmobility. 

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