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San Francisco Demands E-Scooters Be Removed from City Streets

Bay City bureaucrats are uncomfortable with permissionless innovation.

Jevanto/Dreamstime.comJevanto/Dreamstime.comSan Francisco has given e-scooter companies an ultimatum: Get your vehicles off our streets by June 4 or risk fines of $100 per day per scooter. And we just might take the scooters too.

Some companies might be allowed to rent out their electric dockless scooters again, but not until they secure permits from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA), which won't be issuing them until late June at the earliest.

The announcement comes a month after the city issued cease-and-desist letters to several e-scooter companies and began impounding improperly parked vehicles. (Austin, Texas, chased e-scooter companies off the streets earlier this year too.)

The permits themselves were unveiled yesterday. They come with numerous new requirements for the e-scooter companies, whose dockless vehicles—rentable via smartphone app—started cropping up in San Francisco earlier this year.

The application costs alone are $5,000. Once approved, scooter companies such as Lime, Bird, and Spin will have to pay another $35,000 to the city. The number of rentable e-scooters available for all companies will be capped at 1,250 city-wide for six months (then rising to 2,500), and companies will have to provide service area plans, which will be subject to city approval.

These rules are necessary, city officials say, to combat the threat e-scooters pose to some deeply held San Francisco values.

"We can have convenience, but it can't sacrifice privacy and equity along the way," City Attorney Dennis Herrera informed everyone in a Thursday press release. "Everyone needs to play by a set of rules for cities to function efficiently, safely and equitably—even corporations," added San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the author of the city's new e-scooter regulations.

To achieve this end, the city's new permits will also require scooter companies to offer their website and apps in multiple languages (including but not limited to Chinese and Spanish), to make their customer interface technology accessible to the disabled, and to offer discounts and cash payment options to low-income people.

If officials' primary concern is ensuring more people can have access to e-scooters, it seems a counter-productive strategy to demand that all scooters be taken off the road. So does capping the total number of scooters. And piling on a lot of new regulations that raise the costs of providing the vehicles.

Costs come down and accessibility increases when service providers can respond and grow with demand, not when they are artificially constrained by regulatory caps and costs.

Uber is a great example of this, starting as essentially a luxury town car provider before evolving into a popular transit service used by all kinds of people.

The deeper motivation behind these new restrictions appears to be a discomfort about any innovation that is not pre-planned, pre-approved, or in conformance with pre-established city goals.

SFMTA chief Ed Reiskin summed up the attitude when he said, "Just because something is innovative doesn't mean it's good for our city."

Photo Credit: Jevanto/Dreamstime.com

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    These rules are necessary, city officials say, to combat the threat e-scooters pose to some deeply held San Francisco values.

    Is there any threat a permit and fee won't neutralize?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Hihn.

  • John||

    Hihn is out there, it cant be bargained with, it cant be reasoned with, it doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear, and it absolutely will not stop...EVER,

  • Yellow Tony||

    Someone give me a shit ton of money, then I guarantee you all we've got a blockbuster hit on our hands. Hell, your post is already writing The Hihnfection's first trailer.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    And if it's a hiht, we can start working on the sequel: Hihn vs. The Fish People.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    San Francisco has given e-scooter companies an ultimatum: Get your vehicles off our streets by June 4 or risk fines of $100 per day per scooter. And we just might take the scooters too.

    Appropriate.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Sorry, I only listen to AMERICAN accents.

  • Yellow Tony||

    I once went to San Francisco with a friend because that's what one ought to do when they're young, right? Well, we decided to go the skate park to do some sick tricks with our only scooter, but for some odd reason we were given weird looks. Eventually somebody rolled over on their pathetic little longboard and told me that what we were doing was wrong. I was taken aback by this asscake's rudeness. Is it such a crime that I use my amputees as scooters? What good are they if not for XTREME sports? (Other than to act as strippers, of course!) Anyway, at the time I assumed this pot-smoking, jam-smothered, penisjacket teenager was simply worried about me screwing up the half-pipes. (Aren't I a magnanimous man?) But no, he kept complaining and shrieking about little Cooter the Amputee Scooter. I was going to shove my pinky down this cum-guzzling loser's urethra, but I heard the sirens of the pigs coming to impose their gay morals on me. So I and my little biological scooter cheesed it.
    Fucking moralfags.

  • Rockabilly||

    Only central committee knows what's best for you, a hapless citizen.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Simply absurd.

  • ||

    The deeper motivation behind these new restrictions appears to be a discomfort about any innovation that is not pre-planned, pre-approved, or in conformance with pre-established city goals.

    Actually, I think there is another, "deeper," perhaps even foundational, motive identified earlier in the article:

    The application costs alone are $5,000. Once approved, scooter companies such as Lime, Bird, and Spin will have to pay another $35,000 to the city.
  • Longtobefree||

    "our city"
    I think I know what the real problem is. And yet the damn fools voted him in - - - - - - - -

    Oh, well. California. Secede already, and take Hawaii with you while it still exists.

  • soldiermedic76||

    And Seattle-Tacoma-Portland-Salem corridor.

  • Cy||

    No. I refuse to let foreign invaders seize sovereign land.

  • Benitacanova||

    All products, including those online, must have payment by cash options as well as discounts for poor people.

    Wow. California...

  • LarryA||

    Meanwhile, the government would like nothing better than to eliminate untraceable cash transactions.

    Left Hand, meet Right Hand.

  • Juice||

    "We can have convenience, but it can't sacrifice privacy and equity along the way,"

    How the fuck do scooters for rent sitting on the sidewalk do anything to anyone's privacy or equity?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Duh. If you, as an esteemed city council member don't have one, they violate your privacy by revealing to others that you can't afford one.

  • ||

    How the fuck do scooters for rent sitting on the sidewalk do anything to anyone's privacy or equity?

    As a longtime Bay Area resident, let me help you out here:

    1) As the article mentions the app is in English. Not everyone can read English. Therefore, immigrants are being deprived of an equal opportunity to use the service, which is just how it would be if Trump ran things in SF.

    2) Not everyone has smart phones. Well, okay, most everyone has smart phones, but not everyone has a credit card. Well, okay, most everyone has a credit card, but how is a homeless person who only has coins supposed to pay for one of these scooters? No equity.

    3) Everyone knows scooters are a white person thing.

  • The Real Jose||

    As someone who actually lives and walks in San Francisco, let me help you out. I don't want to be run over by a repellent hipster cruising along on the sidewalk at 15 MPH.

  • Jerryskids||

    I'm pretty sure if you're rolling down the street on a dockless scooter, everybody already knows you're gay.

  • Number 2||

    Having learned to speak and understand Progressive-ese, allow me to translate for you:

    "Some bastards figured out a way to make money around here without paying us our cut! We'll show them!"

  • Ariki||

    equity is totalitarian prog speak for slavery. The useful idiots just haven't figured that out yet.

  • Miter Broller||

    I would develop a business plan that moved all of my rental kiosks just outside the city limits.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    A scooter for the disabled? Just which disabled are we speaking about? If they are disabled and capable of actually riding a scooter, isn't the council removing devices that enable the disabled?

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    And this sounds like the disabled episode of the IT Crowd.

  • Árboles de la Barranca||

    These dangerous contributers to global climate change might run over and scatter the syringes and feces left by the revered street citizens of Frisco, thereby creating a public health hazard.

    Good call, Comrades.

  • Radioactive||

    SF = Suddenly Fucked

  • CDRSchafer||

    They should require a permit for hobos to poop on the sidewalk.

  • gimmedatribeye||

    The scooters probably weren't gay enough for the city.

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