Mountain View looks to e-scooters as bike share programs languish | News | Mountain View Online |


Mountain View looks to e-scooters as bike share programs languish


Hundreds of electric scooters could soon be buzzing around Mountain View, giving people a speedy way to make that last-mile trip between work and the train station. The City Council on Tuesday night endorsed the idea of a pilot program that would allow scooter share companies to bring as many as 800 e-scooters to the city as soon as next year.

The pilot program would have guardrails: barring children from using electric scooters, capping speeds and establishing designated parking areas that would prohibit "free-floating" scooter parking. Allowing users to park anywhere, city staff warned, could lead to scooters blocking sidewalks and littering the city.

Similar pilots launched in cities like San Francisco last year have been controversial, prompting a flood of complaints that the hands-off approach of scooter companies led to a widespread public nuisance, with e-scooters clogging public streets and blocking ramps and transit stops.

The upcoming scooter share pilot is largely the result of market forces. Bike share programs have declined in popularity, at least locally, and many companies have pivoted to take advantage of the explosive rise in electric scooters. Last year, shared scooters accounted for 38.5 million trips in the U.S., making it the most popular form of transportation outside of transit and cars, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Mountain View's own bike share pilot program reflects the trend. In May 2018, two companies, Lime and ofo, launched bike share programs in Mountain View, but both began to wind down operations and withdraw from the program after just a few months. Lime withdrew specifically because of its shifted focus towards e-scooters, according to a city staff report.

The interested in bike-sharing programs in Mountain View cratered so fast that data used to assess ridership trends only runs from May through August last year. During that time, the companies' combined 358 bikes were used for 33,532 trips. At the peak, each bike was averaging two trips per day, with the highest usage during the evening hours. About half of the trips started or ended within the downtown Mountain View area.

"I have not seen a bike share program work in Mountain View yet, and I know we've had many of them," Councilman John McAlister said at the Oct. 29 council meeting.

Under the new scooter pilot program, two companies would be allowed to operate up to a combined 800 scooters in the city, which would be subject to a host of constraints. Scooter riders need to be at least 18 years of age and have a valid drivers license, and the scooter speed must be capped at 15 mph. Scooter users are required to follow state laws against riding with passengers, riding on the sidewalk or operating an e-scooter while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Sam Kang, representing Lime, called the policy a good start, but worried that designated parking areas could be problematic. It might work in densely packed areas like downtown Mountain View, but it would be difficult to accommodate all parts of the city with nearby scooter parking. The constraints might be a deterrent for potential riders, he said.

Mountain View resident Serge Bonte said designated parking areas are the only way the program will work for all of Mountain View, particularly in neighborhoods with narrow walkways that were never intended to support discarded bikes and scooters.

"If I look at my neighborhood, our sidewalks are like 3 feet wide and there's just no room," Bonte said. "There are lots of parts of Mountain View that do not have infrastructure for e-scooters to be parked."

Another sticking point was how hard the city should come down on companies in the event that a scooter has a damaged or faulty battery or motor that could render it unsafe. City staff recommend that any permit with a scooter share company could be revoked if motorized scooters are unsafe for public use, which Kang worried could be an overly strict liability standard.

Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga said she supported a "warning system" for infractions to give companies a chance to rectify problems.

Mayor Lisa Matichak said she was worried that enforcement -- keeping riders off the sidewalk and in the direction of traffic -- would be an added burden on the Mountain View Police Department, and wondered whether the scooter share companies themselves could bear some of the responsibility.

Assistant Public Works Director Dawn Cameron said the city can press scooter share companies to educate and remind riders about the rules of the road, and potentially even revoke usage rights for bad actors.

The city plans to begin accepting scooter share permit applications in March 2020.

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18 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 30, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Why does this article only talk about "last mile", ie from the train station to work? Are these scooters only for out-of-town people commuting in to the city? Will there be any scooters available in our residential neighborhoods so that residents can use them to get downtown or to work at local jobs or to get to the train station? "First mile" is just as important as "last mile".

12 people like this
Posted by A Talking Cat
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 30, 2019 at 2:10 pm

A Talking Cat is a registered user.

Great! E-scooters are a great way to get that last mile after commuting from train or bus. Gets people out of dangerous, polluting, space-wasting cars, and doesn't require extra huge swaths of ugly concrete to park them.

Now we just need to train the general populace in proper scooter etiquette. Bicyclists know what I'm talking about…

19 people like this
Posted by Jake O.
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Oct 30, 2019 at 2:35 pm

I give it only a couple months before people start complaining about scooters being left in random areas. I don't see what the benefit is for the city in allowing these scooter companies move in. Many cities that have had them, kick them out just as quickly.

14 people like this
Posted by Proud Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2019 at 2:56 pm

Proud Taxpayer is a registered user.

Maybe... If there was a way to keep them out of the creeks, and off the train tracks. Maybe... If they were locked to only Castro between Central and El Camino, and a couple blocks to either side.
Maybe this will work as a pilot program, but there are lots of ways for this to go wrong.

26 people like this
Posted by They NEED to litter our city
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2019 at 3:08 pm

The only way they can profit is if they litter our city with the scooters. They need to be available all over which means lots and lots of them...all over. They dump clusters of them around town in the dead of night then leave.

It's not a good idea for most all areas of MV but might work downtown as long as they have designated parking areas.
I personally will not tolerate them around me. They won't last long

15 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 30, 2019 at 3:15 pm

I see another failed initiative coming, brought to us by our resident-hating city leaders!

5 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 30, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Very bad idea, want does Mountain View gain from allowing e scoters other than blight, litter, and something else to be managed and eventually banned.
Rethink this nonsense and Reverse this bad decision!

7 people like this
Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 30, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Maybe scooter rental is ok for a tourist, but for commuters it makes much more sense to own the scooter rather than rent it. Mountain View is not a hot tourist destination...

3 people like this
Posted by Judy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 30, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Where will one ride a scooter in downtown MV? They work well in areas with bike lanes but downtown streets have parking everywhere so the riders will be in the middle of the street. That won’t work well.

11 people like this
Posted by bob1066
a resident of Gemello
on Oct 30, 2019 at 6:02 pm

bob1066 is a registered user.

They should not be allowed on Castro between El Camino Real and the railway lines. They should use the less heavily trafficked side roads.

2 people like this
Posted by Great idea
a resident of Castro City
on Oct 30, 2019 at 9:01 pm

I take the train to Diridon station and use a scooter to go one mile to my office. I’m not sure how these will work in residential areas. Maybe leave them in your driveway? But the clear advantage is point to point service.

13 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 30, 2019 at 9:42 pm

Yup. The important point is to get run over. Exercise is not necessary - especially if if you are just going to get run over by cars, trucks and buses.

18 people like this
Posted by How to kill e-scooters
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2019 at 5:36 am

I did a Google search on how to kill e-scooters, out of curiosity, and the results shows an International Bloodbath of death and horrible injuries cities around the world are seeing with these e-scooters.
See for yourself!

12 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Oct 31, 2019 at 8:25 am

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

Bring on the scooters!

In case you haven't noticed, Mountain View already devotes most of our public land and transportation funding on tens of thousands of dockless vehicles that are twenty times larger than scooters, privately owned (so not shareable by many people throughout the day), louder, polluting, more expensive, and more dangerous for pedestrians.

You know. Cars.

8 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 31, 2019 at 9:21 am

Gary is a registered user.

Good point. Cars and even larger vehicles have their costs. But scooters? How about self-driving scooters? Program your destination: 2500 Grant Road, Mountain View (El Camino Hospital).

12 people like this
Posted by Vicki
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 31, 2019 at 9:57 am

Keep them off sidewalks!! I am so frustrated getting “pushed off sidewalks “ by bicycles already....

19 people like this
Posted by On Sidewalks? Of Course!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2019 at 1:09 pm

Of course these will be ridden on sidewalks. The user's will obey the laws of the road just like car drivers and cyclists, meaning a certain percentage of them will not abide by the rules.

I expect scooters on sidewalks to be a large issue because people will not feel safe on the roads with them.

12 people like this
Posted by luddite
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 31, 2019 at 1:15 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

10 people like this
Posted by Drunk Driver problems in other cities
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2019 at 1:28 pm

There is a huge issue with the boozers coming out of bars and getting on scooters, thinking they're OK.
The usual death and horrific injuries have resulted.

We're facilitating the increased death and destruction that comes along with these scooters.
No town has been spared, MV will be no different.

13 people like this
Posted by Google for the win
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Apparently, according to the internet, there are lots of ways to disable these, or you can just clear the sidewalks of them, putting them into the bushes.

21 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Downtown SJ is littered with rarely used scooters and everyone I know who works there has been hit or nearly hit by one.

A failing business model with nothing good to offer MV. As usual our city council was impressed with a shiny useless toy and did zero due diligence into it’s actual effectiveness and track record. Wonder how much of our money they’re dumping into this stupidity

23 people like this
Posted by They're a blight, pure and simple
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2019 at 2:05 pm

The streets look like garbage dumps when they litter these around.

4 people like this
Posted by sledgehammer
a resident of Willowgate
on Nov 1, 2019 at 11:35 pm

sledgehammer is a registered user.

More flotsam. Good workout smashing them to smithereens.

8 people like this
Posted by Cfrink
a resident of Willowgate
on Nov 2, 2019 at 10:16 am

Cfrink is a registered user.

I’m frustrated that we don’t have these in our city already. And the senselessness of excluding kids, a huge sector of the paying audience is shortsighted. My son used the lime bikes on an almost daily basis and it was a great way for him to get around the city that we really appreciated. The scooters are long overdue. But all these restrictions are silly. Run the pilot program and let the difficulties reveal themselves before damaging the program before it even starts. This is a business after all and they do need to make money. But if you’re going to get a ticket by just stepping on to one, it will fail immediately.

6 people like this
Posted by Nothing but problems in other cities
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 5:04 am

Nothing but problems in other cities is a registered user.

Every article I read about these scooters are how cities who have allowed them have struggled with a myriad of problems, complaints and injuries.
Sidewalk litter is the most common complaint, meaning the scooters look like piles of litter all over town.

With designated docking stations we could eliminate this complaint, but the injuries will come regardless.
This is such a bad idea for our town. Please city council, we don;t need to join the other cities struggling with all the issues escooters bring if we just allow them to litter our streets and sidewalks, and bushes, and creeks, and your yard, and ...

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