Last Friday, L.A. City Councilmember Gil Cedillo introduced a motion that would exclude his council district from the L.A. Transportation Department’s (LADOT’s) citywide dockless e-scooter pilot program starting in a couple weeks. Alongside Paul Koretz and Mitch Englander (who has since left the council) this makes three of fifteen councilmembers who have called for a ban on the popular new shared e-scooters.
Several cities in L.A. County have banned e-scooter; these include Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Redondo Beach, and El Segundo. A proposed ban in unincorporated L.A. County was recently scaled back to a proposal to develop e-scooter regulations.
Councilmember Cedillo has a long history of opposing multi-modal transportation, including the city’s Mobility Plan and North Figueroa Street bike lanes. He also blocked the striping of bikes lanes that the city received funding for in its North Spring Street Bridge retrofit project.
Cedillo’s e-scooter motion (council file 17-1125-S6) states that:
A growing number of health and safety issue [sic] have been reported in cities across the nation. Numerous media stories have been published about the increasing number of emergency room visits by people injured when riding electric scooters.
…many cities are struggling with scooters that are haphazardly parked along sidewalks and parkways, thereby obstructing access for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs.
(Note that the jury is still out on the prevalence and severity of e-scooter injuries and that the big danger for scooter riders is cars, a problem that Cedillo has failed to address.)
The motion concludes that “Until LADOT’s one-year pilot has concluded it would be fitting to limit the locations where the electric scooters can operate.” If approved by the full City Council, the motion instructs LADOT “to exclude Council District 1 from the Dockless On-Demand Personal Mobility pilot program and to not issue any permits for this area.”
Since late 2017, LADOT has been working on crafting regulations for dockless shared mobility devices, including dockless bike-share, e-bikes, and e-scooters. LADOT staff worked closely with the city council, city departments, and various stakeholders. Cedillo did not raise issues with e-scooters during the many city hearings on e-scooter regulations and, in September 2018, Cedillo voted to approve LADOT’s final dockless regulations, anticipated to be a one-year pilot. Though parts of the city had been excluded from early limited, conditional operations (which are currently in effect), pilot dockless regulations were approved to go into effect citywide on March 15. Later this month, Angelenos are likely to see an increase in dockless mobility devices, as LADOT reports having received applications from eleven dockless mobility companies requesting permits to operate 37,670 devices.
One fairly obvious problem with Cedillo’s proposal is that e-scooter riders cannot easily tell where one district begins and ends. Another could be potential repercussions from mobility device operators that were invited to apply for citywide operations.
Cedillo’s motion appears to be too late to make it through the city’s approval process prior to the March 15 start date for the citywide dockless pilot.
Cedillo’s motion has been assigned to the city council Transportation Committee, chaired by Councilmember Mike Bonin, who has been supportive of multi-modal transportation options for all Angelenos. It is not clear that Bonin would agree to schedule the motion at T-Committee any time soon, nor whether it would be approved by the three-member committee, which consists of Bonin, Koretz, and Nury Martinez. E-scooter critic Koretz could try to jump onto Cedillo’s initiative by excluding Koretz’s district five, too, further splintering the citywide pilot. If the Cedillo motion is passed by the committee, it would also need approval of the full city council.