It's January, the last month of the pilot program for the reckless (dockless) scooter program in Long Beach. The window of opportunity for you to lodge your complaints will soon close as the City Council decides upon next steps in the program's adoption.
Please consider the following as you make your opinion known to City Hall:
• At the Dec. 4 meeting of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (chaired by Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw with First District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce and Seventh District Councilman Roberto Uranga in attendance), an engineer from Public Works (the department in charge of this program) stated that the biggest complaint about the scooters is sidewalk riding, which is against California law.
• Also in his presentation he stated that the scooter operators "cannot prevent scooters from being ridden on the sidewalks." He admitted that the geofencing capability to accomplish this is not possible "at this time."
• This fact was confirmed during public comments by Tim Harter, senior manager of government relations for Bird, one of the scooter program operators. He acknowledged that there is "absolutely" a problem with sidewalk riders and that Bird is "thinking of a technology" to deal with the problem.
• The public comments also included remarks by two of Long Beach's handicapped citizens about the unfortunate encounters they have both had with dockless scooter riders since the pilot program began.
• The Public Works engineer stated that they are considering a cap of 3,000 scooters in their recommendation to City Council. The Bird representative urged no cap of 3,000 in his remarks but rather to have the city consider market demand.
My question is why would the city of Long Beach even consider moving forward with this program if (1) the most common complaint is sidewalk riders and (2) there is no technological enforcement mechanism at present to prevent sidewalk riders endangering Long Beach citizens? Is the risk to the safety of our pedestrians and handicapped worth the boast by the city that we have one more multimodal transportation means, despite the dangers the program presents? What is the rush to adopt this program?
If you haven't become informed about this topic and also the shenanigans these scooter companies have engaged in, disrespecting other communities, it's important to do so. These companies and their investors are bent on increasing their bottom line and market share at our city's expense. The lobbyists for the scooter companies are no doubt doing a full court press on the Council this month. And consider that the scooter operators have captured e-mail addresses from riders that they can use with messages to flood the surveys and e-mails of the Council members.
Long Beach citizens, make your opinion known. The dedicated customer service hotline is (562) 908-3516. Emails can be sent to LongBeachCallCenter@willdan.com.
Linda Spery is a Long Beach resident.