Big Scooter’s Big Assembly Bill in Sacramento: AB2989 Would Triple Power, Legalize 20 MPH on Sidewalks for Helmetless Riders – Well, Here’s the Response

Currently, Big Scooter means BIRD. LIME and SPIN, the “bad actors” identified by elements of the Board of Supervisors, the SFMTA, DPW, etc. So that’s the situation locally, but what’s going on in Sacramento?

Look, Bird has sponsored its own Assembly Bill, AB-2989. It aims to do all the stuff in the headline above.

So our Assembly Committee on Transportation, naturally, has expressed some “concerns.”

Let’s have a look-see:

1) The author claims that these scooters are substantially similar in use to electric bicycles. Existing law subjects electric bicycles to all the requirements of regular bicycles, such as restricting their operation while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, operating to the far right-hand edge of the road, etc. This bill, while including some of the safe operation regulations in existing law for bicycles, fails to address many important safety considerations. In addition, despite the author’s belief that standup electric scooters are similar to electric bikes, their definition is substantially closer to that of a motorized scooter. In fact, the primary difference between the definition of a standup electric scooter in this bill and that of a motorized scooter in existing law is the limit of electric power and speed. It appears the author wants to make the case that, because these standup electric scooters are somewhat limited in power and speed (though motorized scooters could be less powerful and slower), they should not be subject to many of the restrictions on motorized scooters such as not being operated on sidewalks, not needing a driver’s license to operate, and not requiring a helmet if you are over 18 years of age. It seems unclear why standup electric scooters should be treated differently than motorized scooters except to try and accommodate this new dockless business model.

Oh, snap! See that, Bird? If you want to treat your Chinese electric scooters like bikes, why not mention the drugs / alcohol issue? And actually, Bird, why not just have your motorized scooter be regulated like, IDK, other “motorized scooters?”

2) This bill limits standup electric scooters to speeds of 20 mph, but allows them to be operated on a sidewalk. In the letter from the City of Santa Monica, they claim to observe these scooters traveling as fast as 22 mph. For reference, world-class sprinters run around 24 mph in the 100 meter dash. The base speed limit for vehicles in residential streets is 25 mph. In contrast, existing law limits electrically motorized skateboards to 15 mph and also restricts a person from operating an electrically motorized skateboard at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, pedestrian traffic, and in no event at a speed that endangers the safety of any person or property. It seems reasonable that, at a minimum, standup electric scooters should be held to the same speed restrictions as electrically motorized skateboards.


3) How many types of vehicles does the state need to define in order to fairly and equitably regulate the safe passage of all Californians? There are currently large sections of existing law dedicated to the safe operation and use of a wide variety of remarkably similar mobility devices, from electric bicycles, to motorized scooters, to segways, and each article applies various safety rules in slightly different ways. As technology continues to evolve the way people get around, it seems reasonable to begin to rationalize these various sections and not continue to expand statute with slight variations in order to accommodate the latest idea.

Yes. It doesn’t really make sense to pass a law for Big Scooter.

4) The bill currently specifies that local jurisdictions can regulate the operation of standup electric scooters, but not their parking. The author should consider clarifying that local jurisdictions can regulate both the operation and parking of standup electric scooters.

Yes, why should Bird get away with local controls on parking on the sidewalk?

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