Electric scooters have just started to make their way around San Francisco and already there are problems – both with the way that they’re being operated and oddly by the fact that they’re now available on City streets.  This is part of a year-long scooter pilot program, so what’s the problem already?  People are parking them illegally, leaving them all over the streets.  What does illegal parking even mean?  I’m also not surprised that people are leaving them all over the sidewalk.  While I’m not trying to stereotype, I feel like this is indicative of the type of person who is using one.  Hop on, hop off.  And you can’t blame people for leaving them this way, can you?

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) pilot program, which launched Monday with companies Skip and Scoot, has some work ahead of it. As one such example, Salvadore Reynoso, who operates a florist shop in San Francisco, told the Chronicle he witnessed a passerby knock over nine Scoot scooters that may have been illegally parked, one at a time, before continuing on his way. Reynoso explains that they were parked illegally at a bus stop, which ended up blocking some of the passengers from being able to exit the buses’ backdoors.

Which, of course, is a problem for transit, and I’m surprised that this even happened.  It’s also being reported that individuals are riding the e-scooters on the sidewalk, which is causing a problem for the city.  As a result, the City banned this practice earlier this year.  So let me get this straight – the City has partnered with a scooter ride-sharing company, and we’re surprised that people are leaving them on the streets at random?  And we’re also surprised that they’re riding them on the sidewalk? How did City officials not see this coming?

According to the SFMTA, both companies are responsible for education and enforcement of the city’s e-scooter rules, which include specific parking requirements and operating the motorized two-wheelers on streets and in bike lanes where possible. Even so, people don’t generally follow the rules unless there is incentive to do so.  Yes, this particular incentive could be to not get fined, but in the grand scheme of things, how big of an impact is this going to have on your life? How big is the fine?

I mean, the idea of having this as a ride-sharing option is great, but at the same time, these kinds of things need to have better rules in place.  Rules that are, unfortunately, regulated by the City. The scooter companies absolutely need to take the lead on education, but does the City have by-law enforcement officers in place to actually hand out tickets to people riding on the sidewalks?  It’s like parking – if you aren’t going to get a ticket, are you going to pay for parking?  Chances are low.

The only recourse for leaving it on the street is to find out (somehow) which scooters were left, go into your system and find out who used it last and then charge their account.  When I said they need to look for incentives, they need to be monetary.  It will take some work, but otherwise, it’s going to cause a bigger issue for the rest of the City.  Including risk with safety and liability.