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El Segundo takes break from scooters, declines to issue new permits

Post Date:08/14/2018 9:00 AM

Scooting along one day, and gone the next.

As quickly as the Bird and Lime scooters showed up to the streets of El Segundo, they've disappeared. The City Council has slapped a moratorium on a proposed pilot program.

City officials were supposed to work out agreements with the two companies over things such as insurance coverage and rules related to where and how people can ride the dock less electric scooters.

But after more than a week, El Segundo planners failed last week to reach agreements on certain aspects of the plan related to insurance and communication with the companies just wasn't there on the rules, according to planning manager Gregg McClain.

Without formal agreements in place the City Council voted 4-0 not to issue the companies new encroachment permits for the next 30 days, effectively instituting a temporary moratorium on the electric scooters that had taken over Main Street like wildfire over the month of July. Mayor Drew Boyles recused himself due to a financial conflict.

'We aren't saying we're completely against the concept,' said Councilmember Scot Nicol. 'We just want to take a break and come up with a better plan.'

Representatives for Lime and Bird could not be reached for comment and were not present at the City Council meeting.

A similar pilot program was recently rolled out in Long Beach.

Of chief concern is insurance coverage. El Segundo City Attorney Mark Hensley said he wanted the scooter companies to carry a $4 million insurance policy and a broad indemnification that shifts more liability from the city to the private companies. But Hensley said the companies only agreed to a $1 million policy.

'There are just a lot of unknown issues from my position as the city attorney,' Hensley said. 'People are getting injured and cities are getting sued, but it's hard to tell right now how big that liability is.'

From July 28 to Aug 7, El Segundo police received 49 calls for service related to the scooters. Out of those, 22 were relayed to officers through dispatch, while the rest were officer initiated, said Police Chief Bill Whalen. Officers filled out two citations. Whalen said the department would not cite people for riding without a helmet because state law was expected to change.

City Councilmember Don Brann said he was against the scooters from the beginning and favored writing as many tickets as possible to enforce the rules.

'I'm on record for advocating a ban on these until we can figure them out rather than having them dumped on us and we figure it out on the fly,' Brann said. 'I haven't observed any body yet using the scooters legally.'

In Santa Monica, the Bird and Lime scooters have similarly vanished, at least for a day. On Tuesday the hundreds of scooters amidst the streets were inoperable as a way to protest the city's proposal to bar the two companies in the months' to come.

On Friday, Santa Monica officials announced they had chosen Uber and Lyft, which don't currently operate scooter services, as the top ranked application for a pilot program to run through September. On Tuesday, scooter enthusiasts joined representatives with Lime and Bird to demonstrate outside City Hall.

'The City should support innovative companies which share data openly and offer 100% green, electric fleets that cut traffic and connect riders from all income groups to public transit,' according to a statement from Lime.

Original Article

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