E-scooters could be coming to Mountain View

Council committee backs plans for new scooter pilot program

Love them or hate them, e-scooters could soon be wheeling into Mountain View. At a May 13 meeting, a City Council subcommittee threw its support behind allowing hundreds of rental scooters to set up shop in Mountain View.

In early plans endorsed by city leaders, up to 800 rental e-scooters would be allowed in Mountain View while the city also attempts to bring back a bikeshare program.

In recent years, companies including Lime, Bird, Skip and Spin have made an aggressive push to introduce electric scooter rentals into Bay Area cities. To some, these scooters are a boon, providing a cheap and easy means of transportation with the click of a smartphone app. But others describe the scooters as a scourge, clogging up city streets and sidewalks while creating a host of new safety hazards for pedestrians and riders alike.

Among the e-scooters fans were a trio of elected members on the City Council's Transportation Committee. Mayor Lisa Matichak and council members John McAlister and Ellen Kamei each acknowledged they had previously taken a ride on the scooters, and found them to be a fast, easy way to get around town.

"I support this, and I hope it's successful," Matichak said at the May 13 meeting. "My biggest concern is safety, so education will be critical. But I learned how to ride a bike, and I learned how to ride a scooter."

E-scooters are touted as a "last-mile" link, bringing commuters from transit stops to their jobs. This has long been a goal for city officials, and for years they tried to fill this need by nurturing a bikeshare program.

That bikeshare program has been a bumpy ride for the city. A fully subsidized version of the bike-rental service abruptly ended in 2016 when the city declined to keep funding it amid low ridership. Last year, Lime and a wave of similar companies offered a new spin on the concept, by bringing hundreds of GPS-equipped "smart bikes" to town. But the companies' profit margins were reportedly disappointing, and they pulled out the last bicycles earlier this year.

As they kicked their bikes to the curb, Lime officials heavily promoted e-scooters as a better alternative for Mountain View and other Peninsula cities. The scooters can get up to eight times more riders per day, according to Lime representatives.

While that may be true, city officials have been skeptical. Compared to bikes, rates of injuries involving e-scooters appear to be higher in cities including Los Angeles and Portland. On the plus side, the new scooters have shown promise as a alternative to driving. City staffers have made it clear they strongly prefer bicycles, pointing out they provide better health and environmental benefits.

At the Monday Transportation Committee meeting, city staff members said that Mountain View may be able to have its cake and eat it too. They presented plans for an e-scooter pilot program, while also updating city leaders on their efforts to bring back a new bikeshare vendor. Jump, a division of Uber, has submitted an application to begin a new bikeshare operation in Mountain View, although the company is still sorting out its insurance requirements and its remains unclear when it will launch in the city. To encourage more bikes, Transportation Planner Nate Baird proposed that as a condition on scooter companies, the city could require them to also provide a certain number of rental bikes.

"We see that these scooters have high trip count per day, but we still believe that a bikeshare service also has high value," he explained. "We're trying to leverage the high trip usage of these scooters to create some incentive to provide bikes."

It was an idea that didn't generate much excitement on the council subcommittee. Matichak expressed concern that the requirement could wind up excluding e-scooter companies that don't have bicycles in their business model. McAlister described another attempt at a bikeshare service as a fool's errand.

"We've seen all the bikeshare programs not work here. I don't see why staff think this is going to work now," he said. "When I (visit) other cities, there aren't a lot of bikes but there are a lot of scooters."

Public comment was similarly supportive of scooters, with some caveats. Local residents were mainly concerned that piles of scooters could clutter city sidewalks, and they urged the city to designate drop-off areas.

The Council Transportation Committee unanimously gave its support for beginning an e-scooter pilot program. Formal guidelines will eventually be brought back to the full City Council for approval.

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14 people like this
Posted by A Talking Cat
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2019 at 9:49 am

A Talking Cat is a registered user.

Yay! I really hope scooters come to Mountain View. They’re so convenient to quickly zip around without needing to drive and find parking.

People aren’t used to them, so there will probably be a spate of small “incidents” as people learn, but I’d MUCH rather have a scooter hit me than an SUV!

Not to mention, the argument about taking up space is a bit silly. A single parking space for a single car (carrying a single person) could hold a dozen scooters.

20 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2019 at 11:13 am

Why is this designed to be only a "last mile" solution? What about the "first mile", ie, from home to the train station or from home to Castro Street? A lot of local employers already have shuttle busses to take employees from the train station to work. We need a better solution for getting people from home to the train station. This is why the old bike share system failed. There were no stations in residential neighborhoods, so the bike share was essentially useless to local residents. This is a lot different from San Francisco, where I see bike share spreading out into the neighborhoods, even neighborhoods that are across town from the major employers.

3 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2019 at 11:43 am

Do they provide helmets?

Asking for a lawyer friend.

12 people like this
Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 19, 2019 at 2:04 pm

Yes the bike experiment failed so lets try to litter the sidewalks with scooters next... to everyone else they were known as skate boards. And how do we keep the kids off them? There is a reason several cities banned them including SJSU

26 people like this
Posted by Tools at the ready
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 20, 2019 at 5:45 am

So when one of these is is left as litter in my yard and I have to get rid of it, which parts go into the recycling container and which components go into the trash?

12 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2019 at 7:48 am

The previous rent-a-scooter operator ran up big losses and ran out of town. What makes these operators think they can turn a profit? They should be required to put up a $1 million bond for dredging. The creeks and the bay are the final destination for many of these scooters, unfortunately.

37 people like this
Posted by They create new problems for all
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 20, 2019 at 9:20 am

The electric scooters are supposed to alleviate a problem, but in fact and shown time and time again, they actually create problems, new problems, for communities that have allowed them in the past. Some of which have now banned them because of the new issues the e-scooters created.

Remember, they create more issues than they try to solve, and the jury is still out on if they actually solve anything. We know they create problems though, that's verifiable.

11 people like this
Posted by marknn
a resident of North Whisman
on May 20, 2019 at 3:37 pm

marknn is a registered user.

Woot! Scooters are awesome. I'd love to have scooters finally available in Mountain View and surrounding areas.

This would really make downtown accessible without having to drive for most of mountain view residents (and make parking much more available for those who do need to drive!)

3 people like this
Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 20, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

It seems like the city needs to just encourage and support the market for scooters and bikes. There’s no reason for the city to financially support or over regulate any programs. Lesson learned from the previous bike share experiment.

5 people like this
Posted by Mountain View Neighbor
a resident of North Whisman
on May 20, 2019 at 6:37 pm

Mountain View Neighbor is a registered user.

Another wave of corporate garbage for tourists to endanger their lives with. Let’s be realistic. The city is pushing out the older and handicapped, while turning the city into a college campus. It’s not all THAT cool.

4 people like this
Posted by My opinion
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2019 at 7:24 pm

Gross! Disgusting!

4 people like this
Posted by Scoot Home
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 21, 2019 at 6:39 am

I would love to be able to grab one of these after a concert at Shoreline to get home. But I imagine they may be hard to come by after a large event

7 people like this
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 21, 2019 at 10:05 am

Rossta is a registered user.

I think scooters could be a good resource for people - they work great for less than a mile of travel. I see the biggest problem with where they get parked. Downtown Mountain View has a parking problem for bikes already and adding scooters to the mix certainly cannot help. you can park about a dozen bikes in the space of a single car - and probably double that many scooters. So, why not dedicate one parking space per block on each side to parking these alternative vehicles? Monitor and if they are getting good use - more than 2 at a time on average would be a win over a single car - convert more spaces.

We can't complain about scooters and bikes blocking the sidewalk unless we have provided an alternative. Having parking spaces also makes it easier to find one.

3 people like this
Posted by DonKeedick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 21, 2019 at 2:57 pm

DonKeedick is a registered user.

The amount of brain injury is about to spike in the Mountain View

4 people like this
Posted by Castro St
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 21, 2019 at 3:04 pm

Castro St is a registered user.

Close Castro Street to cars and make a dedicated bike/scooter lane alongside a pedestrian throughway. Problems solved!

25 people like this
Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 3:39 pm

There is a good reason why these machines are basically banned in the UK, in that it is illegal to ride them on a public road or a private footpath. In other words, the only place they are allowed is on private property.

They will provide a moving obstacle course for all pedestrians, bike riders and vehicle drivers. It is bad enough having staionary obstacle courses, but when the obstacles can whip around at a speed faster than the average pedestrian, they become a hazard for all.

Like this comment
Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Typo, sorry. It is illegal to ride them both in a public road and public footpath. The only legal place to ride them is private property.

23 people like this
Posted by Please no
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 21, 2019 at 4:28 pm

These will make the roads and sidewalks unsafe for all.
We are not SF with big wide promenade sidewalks, and even SF is having issues despite that.

It's clear the committee only heard the marketing side, from the company that wants to sell it to MV. IMO the committee needs to come out of it's bubble and realize what has happened in the real world and what will happen in the real world here in MV wrt these scooters.

It's a bad option that negatively impacts the greater many in MV.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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