Divided WeHo Council lets scooter program roll onward

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Newly negotiated terms with scooter companies Bird and Lime failed to win over Councilmembers Lauren Meister and John Heilman, who wanted to end the city’s controversial micromobility program at City Council’s Monday night meeting. 

Meister initiated the discussion, inquiring about the specific details of ABM, the company responsible for collecting scooters that are parked improperly. Staff noted that ABM’s contract was suggested to be extended for a further six months, not to position ABM as the primary responders but rather to have them offer supplemental administrative support and fleet services.

This was to assist in the smooth transition to a new operating agreement in which Bird and Lime would assume that responsibility. The aim was to observe the ability of the scooter companies to manage their devices independently, without ABM’s direct intervention in the field, though ABM would still be available for immediate response if necessary.

The topic of insurance for the dockless micromobility program was a significant point of discussion. Nicole McClinton, the Senior Administrative Analyst for the Administrative Services Department City Clerk’s Office, elucidated that the insurance market for such services was limited to the state of California, which mandates a $10,000 requirement. The idea of the companies being self-insured was floated, but the companies were not interested.

PUBLIC COMMENT

During Public Comment, Nicholas Roybal brought up the possibility of demanding new scooters from the companies, citing the current fleet’s dilapidated state and the safety concerns it posed. 

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George Nickle challenged the program’s environmental claims, arguing that the prevalent use of scooters was replacing walking trips, thus not contributing positively to reducing carbon emissions. He also highlighted the nuisance caused by scooters obstructing sidewalks, particularly affecting the disabled and elderly.

Kevin Burton, speaking for the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition, expressed support for the continuation of the program. He pointed out the potential for technological advancements to enhance scooter safety and legal compliance, such as AI and imaging technologies that could prevent scooters from operating on sidewalks or colliding with pedestrians.

Alan Strasburg voiced his frustration over the companies’ historical non-compliance with ADA requirements and the city’s decision to potentially reward these companies with contracts despite their past failures. He underscored the need for immediate action to address the scooters blocking sidewalks. Dan Harrington Tyrell brought up the concern about the program increasing the city’s liability, particularly relating to ADA compliance issues on sidewalks. He questioned the wisdom of continuing a program that seemed to hinder accessibility for disabled individuals.

Annie Jump Vicente raised concerns about the financial contributions of the scooter companies to the city, juxtaposing it against their profits. She also criticized the continued non-compliance with ADA regulations, referring to the scooters as ‘corporate litter’ and highlighting the lack of enforcement of regulations.

Kathy Blaivas shared an anecdotal incident to illustrate the problems with how scooters are handled and placed by company employees, contributing to the broader issue of scooter management within the city.

DISCUSSION

Meister then voiced her position, expressing skepticism about the scooter companies’ willingness to adopt responsible practices. She argued against renewing the city’s contract with these companies, suggesting a different approach where individuals would own their scooters. This ownership, she argued, would instill a greater sense of responsibility compared to the current system of renting from companies that have shown little concern for accountability. Meister criticized the scooter companies for not enforcing weight checks and failing to provide adequate insurance. 

“I’m going to continue to not support this pilot,” Meister said. “I don’t believe that these particular companies are going to do anything differently than they doing now or that they’ve done in the past two or three years. And they’re not going to be accountable. They’re not going to take responsibility for accidents. And so my feeling is we should let the contract expire.”

Councilmember Chelsea Byers moved to proceed with the current scooter plan, but with an openness to future adaptations. She acknowledged the evolving nature of the conversation around mobility options in West Hollywood, highlighting the community’s interest in a docked solution. Byers emphasized the city’s ongoing efforts to improve mobility infrastructure and technology, suggesting that the scooter program’s current form is not necessarily its final iteration.

Heilman expressed opposition to the motion, focusing on the inadequate insurance provided by the scooter companies and their general lack of accountability. Heilman criticized the financial burden placed on the city due to the need to collect improperly parked scooters, arguing that the responsibility for managing these issues should lie with the companies, not the city. Heilman’s stance was that until the scooter companies demonstrate a willingness to take responsibility for their riders’ actions and the placement of their scooters, the extension of the program would not be supportable.

“We are still having to bear the cost of picking up the scooters — that to me is completely outrageous,” Heilman said. 

Mayor Sepi Shyne was the deciding vote in favor of the program moving forward. She supported asking for new scooters and vowed to “look strongly at the numbers.”

The program won’t return for another review by City Council until 2025. 

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mike
mike
5 months ago

A ban on rental electric scooters took effect in Paris In September 2023, becoming one of only a handful of places to do so. Riders in the French capital started using stand-up e-scooters for rent in 2018. They became popular but dangerous, with reported thousand of injuries and even some deaths. A few years ago, Paris cut back the number of companies operating the self-service rentals, which reduced scooters on the streets. The city tried to get riders off the sidewalks, to obey traffic laws and signals, to reduce their speeds and to park in designated places, with no success.… Read more »

Outraged
Outraged
5 months ago

Protecting the elderly and the disabled are not controversial or hard concepts to sell. Anyone against that goes against common sense and logic. And you know why? Because they are CORRUPT and on the take with bribes from the scooter companies and should be thrown out of office by way of a formal RECALL campaign from the banding together of concerned citizens who are sick of their quality of life in this City being sold out by these obviously self-serving grifters. Recall SEB NOW!!

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
5 months ago

I had a podiatrist appointment this afternoon. We were discussing my fight with the city over using rental scooters. And he told me that the amount of injuries due to scooter accidents that he is now seeing has increased markedly!!
He agreed with me that people generally do not report it to city government, so it seems to get swept under the rug, but the accidents are way up!

Failing Grade
Failing Grade
5 months ago

West Hollywood gets a failing grade for vetting scooter providers and apparently some city council members, however that particular onus falls on the residents that elected them. High scrutiny for next election. We need leaders that are qualified and interested in PUBLIC SERVICE rather than SELF SERVICE.

vote them out
vote them out
5 months ago

Thanks for trying, Lauren and John! Shame on Shyne, Erickson, and Byers, who continue to eviscerate our once-lovely city.

Don Jones
Don Jones
5 months ago

The drama continues. Bird has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Morty
Morty
5 months ago

Meanwhile Bird just filed for bankruptcy today. It’s just a fact that these are dangerous especially if people are not wearing a helmet. I see people riding them double up all over the place. It’s just plain dumb. I get that they are a cheap and easy way to get around but safety has to be a top priority.

Had Enough
Had Enough
5 months ago

Follow the $$$

Outraged
Outraged
5 months ago
Reply to  Had Enough

Be careful. If you follow the money, it leads to Septic Shyne’s pockets and I’m not sure you’d want to go there without a gas mask and a HazMat suit.

:dpb
:dpb
6 months ago

It’s amazing to me the Shyne, Erickson and Byers can walk down a West Hollywood street without getting boo’d and harassed. That this three is so tone deaf to the pleas, wishes and concerns of residents is a continual insult to all of us that live here.
And I still want to know how much kickback each is receiving for maintaining this dangerously fool hearted program.
Oh, who wants to be the first to call the county ADA inspector? Just a thought.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
6 months ago

The scooter program has always been marked by the immediate embrace of new technology without a lot of thought of unintended consequences. The clash between “transportation equity” and real world conditions play out on West Hollywood’s streets and sidewalks. The complete lack of financial responsibility for injuries caused by negligent scooter drivers is simply another example of progressive kow-towing to corporate interests. If the Council members who support continuing the scooter program had a genuine concern for the safety of West Hollywood residents, then the Council would have followed John Heilman’s suggestion that the scooter companies carry liability insurance. It… Read more »

Outraged
Outraged
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

All of that is great, but can be stated simply: RECALL SHYNE ERICKSON BYERS NOW!!

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
6 months ago

Alan Strasburg very articulately, expressed my feelings too, in his comment below. Sadly, well meaning speakers last night gave Chelsea and Sepi an out! optimistically and idealistically, several speakers suggested making the scooter program, a docked one rather than a dockless one. The two council members jumped on that as their excuse for continuing the program until March 2025. We know from past experience…and Lauren Meister said it so eloquently… that the scooter companies are not willing to uphold their end of the bargain. Also, the riders will not take the trouble to dock scooters. So this is going to… Read more »

Lost Moment
Lost Moment
5 months ago
Reply to  Mikie Friedman

The supposed “eloquence” of Lauren Meister overshadowed her opportunity to stand up to the program by advocating for personal ownership & responsibility, which she weakly alluded to. Not much different from the rules of the road for vehicles with all the liabilities covered. A lost moment

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
5 months ago
Reply to  Lost Moment

No matter what, Lauren Meister or John Heilemann, (nor any of the several people who got up and gave reasons to end the program) said, Shyne, Erickson and Byers already had their minds made up, and they knew they were in the majority. At least Shyne and Byers pretended “to hear” what people said. John Erickson just wanted to have his way and he made that very clear!
VOTE. THEM. OUT.

Outraged
Outraged
5 months ago
Reply to  Mikie Friedman

NO, RECALL THEM NOW! They are a cancer on West Hollywood and the City needs the chemo and radiation of an populist uprising to get those smug stubborn arrogant corrupt incompetent crooks OUT of our City on a rail (without passing Go and collecting their FAR, FAR more than $200!!) ESB: GTFO!!

JF1
JF1
6 months ago

The same three are always a problem for the City Of West Hollywood. They continue to make decisions in opposition to public out cry. Vote. Them. Out.

Outraged
Outraged
5 months ago
Reply to  JF1

RECALL NOW!!!!

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