Scooter, e-bike permits surpass 14K mark

by Ben OlivoJanuary 15, 2019

And the scooters just keep on coming.

This morning, Jump, the shared e-scooter and e-bicycle system owned by UBER, launched on downtown sidewalks, joining Bird, Lime, Razor and S.A.-based Blue Duck.

Jump has introduced pedal-assisted e-bikes for the first time since Bird ushered in the dockless vehicle era with 150 e-scooters in June. As opposed to the docking stations used by SW Cycle, operated by local nonprofit San Antonio Bike Share, there are no designated places to park a Jump e-bikes.

Dockless vehicle total
The city of San Antonio has issued permits for 14,100 dockless vehicles to six companies so far.
» Bird—4,500
» Jump—4,000 (2,000 e-scooters, 2,000 e-bikes)
» Lime—4,000
» Razor—1,000
» Spin—500 (has not deployed)
» Blue Duck—100

Overall, permits for 14,100 dockless vehicles have been issued to six companies. Jump has the second-most dockless vehicle permits with 4,000—2,000 for e-scooters, 2,000 for e-bikes. Only e-scooter company Spin, which has a permit for 500 rides, has not deployed. While the city is still processing Blue Duck's application, the local company is being allowed to operate since it launched before the pilot program was approved in October.

No other companies are waiting for permits. Company Wind applied, but withdrew its application last week to focus on European markets as they wind down U.S. operations, city officials said.

The city estimates 309,000 rides were taken in December.

City officials have expressed enthusiasm for dockless vehicles since the City Council adopted regulations in October. Among the rules: Riders must be 16 or older; Riders must stay three feet away from pedestrians on sidewalks; Riders are prohibited from parking within eight feet of a building entrance or loading zone. This is a "brand-new industry that was crowdsourced to resolve (mobility issues)," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at the time.

However, as more and more dockless vehicles hit the streets of San Antonio, and with Spring Break and Fiesta fast approaching, District 1 City Councilman Roberto Treviño has expressed concern over sidewalk clutter and scooter safety. He has suggested some enhancements to the six-month pilot program, which ends in May.

For example, later this month, the city will update its 311 app so that pedestrians can report scooter violations.

Also, some e-scooter parking areas have already been designated via stencil.

Jacks said his department first tested designated parking areas on sidewalks during the Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Marathon and Celebrate S.A., the San Antonio Parks Foundation's New Year's Eve celebration in front of Hemisfair.

"We knew people would be riding to those events—we wanted to give them an obvious choice as far as where to park them," said John Jacks, director of the Center City Development and Operations department.

By the end of January, expect scooter "corrals" to pop up, some potentially in place of curb-side metered spaces. Currently, city staff is working to identify the areas where such parking corrals are needed based on data it's receiving from the various companies. There is no set goal for number of these corrals, Jacks said.

From looking at the data, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Alamo Plaza, Southtown and the Pearl seem to be the most popular destinations for e-scooter riders, Jacks said.

"To me, it's really two different issues for parking," Jack said. "We have deployment by the companies, primarily in the morning. We obviously have more control, we have more contact with the company and the people who are deploying them. They may not know that later in the day: This is the location where something is going to occur.

"Obviously, throughout the course of the day, they are being distributed by the riders and those seem to be more here and there kind of issues."

The city is also in the process of recruiting a pedestrian mobility officer (PMO), whose main function will be to oversee the city's Pedestrian Mobility Plan, but who could also weigh in on specific scooter problem areas, Paul Berry, spokesman for the city's Transportation & Capital Improvements department, said via email.

Since the fall, the city has been working with Centro San Antonio ambassadors on correcting mis-parked scooters, "understanding that our preference is the company police their own scooters out there," Jacks said. Parking enforcement officers also have been cleaning up scooter mess when they see it.

Scooter injuries
From October to mid-January, there have been 78 scooter-related emergency calls to the San Antonio Fire Department.
» Oct. 1—5
» Oct. 8—3
» Oct. 15—3
» Oct. 22—3
» Oct. 29—12
» Nov. 11—9
» Nov. 12—3
» Nov. 19—3
» Nov. 26—11
» Dec. 3—5
» Dec. 10—2
» Dec. 17—6
» Dec. 24—5
» Dec. 31—6
» Jan. 7—1
» Jan. 14—1

Cities such as Seattle and Austin have capped the number of bikes and scooters in operation.

"I think it's important to learn even from those (cities) that are struggling because it's helped us to find some common ground—we can’t do it alone," Treviño said. "The bottom line is we think that this is something that will work for us in San Antonio and there's plenty of partners that have committed to helping out, including the scooter companies."

Since Oct. 1, the San Antonio Fire Department has reported 78 calls related to dockless vehicle injuries. Stats were not available for June through September, the first four months e-scooters were used on San Antonio's streets and sidewalks.

Since the pilot program was passed in October, CCDO reports it has impounded 70 dockless vehicles, while the department and Centro ambassadors have moved 13,800 incorrectly-parked dockless vehicles.

Representatives with Bird and Lime did not respond to requests for comment this week.

Lea Thompson contributed to this report.

Contact Ben Olivo: 210-421-3932 | | @rbolivo on Twitter

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