SF e-scooter riders can’t park in Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf Leave a comment

Starting in November, San Francisco’s three permitted scooter companies will prohibit users from parking on a large stretch of the Embarcadero and a popular street in Fisherman’s Wharf.

The restriction levied by the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency to the scooter companies — Lime, Scoot and Spin — is arguably its most aggressive move to date in attempting to curb widespread e-scooter riding and parking on sidewalks.

The decision also comes a week after the Board of Supervisors criticized SFMTA leaders for not addressing the issue urgently enough and
passed a resolution

imploring more hard-line enforcement of sidewalk riding
from the agency.

In a Tuesday
letter to scooter companies, Danny Yeung, SFMTA’s acting manager for permits and administration, said the companies have to create geofencing restrictions that would prohibit users from leaving scooters parked on the Embarcadero’s north and east waterfront sidewalks from Piers 14 to 45.

Riders will also be restricted from parking e-scooters on sidewalks, side streets and piers on the entire stretch of Jefferson Street from Powell Street to west of Hyde Street. The two tourist destinations have long been hotbeds for sidewalk riding and abandoned e-scooters.

“This imposition of this parking restriction is due to the high numbers of parking complaints submitted via 311, parking citations issued by SFMTA investigators, and improper riding citations issued by SFMTA investigators for observed and documented violations,” Yeung wrote to the city’s three scooter companies.

The three companies, which operate a combined fleet of 5,500 e-scooters in San Francisco, will be required to keep the geofencing restrictions in place “for at least” the month of November, Yeung said. He added that the agency could extend it longer “based on the effectiveness of these specific restrictions.”

The new restrictions won’t apply to private e-scooters.

“We fully intend to comply with this new requirement,” said Charlie Mastoloni, Lime’s senior manager of government relations. “We’ve already taken steps to address the issue, including agreeing to pass on 50% of fines to riders arising from citations, equipping our entire fleet with sidewalk detection technology and implementing a 3 mph slow zone on the Embarcadero.”

Lime is the only one of the three companies to pass half of the fines from citations on to riders as a way to try and change users’ behaviors.

The issue of scooter sidewalk riding has escalated in recent months.

Supervisors waded into the years-long enforcement debate for the first time since 2018 when they passed the resolution that urged the transportation agency to cancel scooter companies’ contracts if they don’t equip their entire fleets with anti-sidewalk riding geofencing technology.

“These things (are) freaking out seniors and people. The only kind of scooters that belong on sidewalks are scooters for individuals who have disability challenges and strollers,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said at an Oct. 18 board meeting.

The transportation agency is requiring the companies to develop, test and begin installing anti-sidewalk-riding tech on their scooters, but the
technology’s effectiveness has been mixed.

Scooter company representatives have said the tech won’t end sidewalk riding and want the city to install more protected bike lanes to discourage riding on sidewalks.

High rates of scooter thefts, they’ve said, have made it difficult to roll out the anti-sidewalk-riding tech.

Ricardo Cano is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: ricardo.cano@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ByRicardoCano

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