Los Angeles officials added a speed limit Wednesday to the growing list of rules the city is considering to regulate dockless scooters.
The electric vehicles would not be allowed to travel faster than 12 miles per hour, around the average speed of a beach cruiser bicycle, under the new requirements, which are still a work in progress. Many of the scooters now deployed reach speeds up to 15 miles per hour.
Councilmember Mike Bonin, who chairs the city council’s transportation committee, introduced the new requirement based on concerns that “companies are going to want to compete with each other over who can go fastest.”
Bonin said that allowing riders to zip around at faster speeds “poses a safety problem.”
The vehicles began proliferating on the Westside earlier this year and have since spread to other parts of the city, including Hollywood and Fairfax.
City leaders are considering regulations that would impose safety standards for dockless scooters and bicycles and curtail the number of vehicles that companies can distribute on streets and sidewalks, but it’s taking a while to iron out those rules.
So far, the transportation committee has discussed and revised the new rules three different times. Now, a separate council committee will have to sign off on the regulations before they go before the full council.
Some city leaders are concerned about how to govern dockless bikes and scooters in the period before the new rules take effect. Last week, Councilmember Paul Koretz proposed a total ban on electric scooters until the regulations are sorted out.
Koretz reiterated his concerns about the safety of the vehicles Wednesday.
“We’re very fortunate that we haven’t had a devastating skull fracture yet,” Koretz told the other members of the transportation committee. He added that one of his staffers had been “pretty banged up” riding a scooter, and that he had heard of one instance in which a scooter rider challenged a pedestrian to a fight.
The committee did not discuss a possible ban Wednesday, but did add a provision to the proposed rules ensuring that companies will have to get temporary permits from the city’s Department of Transportation in order to make bikes and scooters available for riders. Those permits would be revocable and could be issued before the new rules officially go into effect, giving the city more ability to regulate dockless vehicles in the meantime.
Bonin also added a small change to the new rules, which would ensure that they apply to any future dockless vehicles that companies may bring to LA’s streets.
That way, he said, the city would already have a regulatory framework in place should “dockless mopeds or dockless hover boards” ever arrive.