Jump scooters on a downtown San Diego sidewalk
Scooters on a downtown San Diego sidewalk. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The City Council approved Mayor Kevin Faulconer‘s proposed regulations for dockless scooter and bicycle companies in a 9-0 vote on Tuesday.

Under the new regulations — which go into effect on July 1 — dockless vehicle companies will need to have permits and comply to safety rules to operate in San Diego. Companies will need to provide education for riders, pay operating fees, use designated parking areas, adhere to new speed limits, share usage data to the city and hold liability insurance.

“The regulations approved at Council today speaks to my colleagues’ commitment to finding a balance to keep San Diegans safe on our sidewalks and streets, while establishing permitting terms for dockless scooters as a meaningful part of a safe, accessible and sustainable mobility network,” Councilman Chris Ward said.

Faulconer proposed the regulations to make dockless vehicle services safer and more accountable after popping up in San Diego over the past year safer.

“The way people get around town has changed quite a bit and we’re embracing that by putting in place common-sense rules to protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” Faulconer said. “These new regulations allow us to hold these companies accountable for their actions while establishing clear rules of the road to ensure this evolving industry grows in a safe and responsible way.”

Companies operating in the city will be charged $5,141 for a six-month permit to operate a set number of vehicles during the period. There will also be a fee of $150 per vehicle each year.

A new permitting process will be used to better control against rapid increases in dockless vehicle fleets and hold companies accountable if they don’t comply to the rules. If a company doesn’t adhere to them, they could lose the ability to operate in San Diego.

Using the geofencing technology already included in the apps, scooters will be limited to a 8 mph speed limit certain areas of the city, while others will be pedestrian-only. The scooters will automatically be slowed down to 3 mph and riders will be alerted to leave the neighborhood in such neighborhoods.

Bikes and scooters will only be able to park in one of the 330 designated parking spots that are currently being built in downtown San Diego instead of being left on sidewalks. Parking areas may also be designated in other parts of the city if needed.

“San Diegans are frustrated with scooters on our sidewalks, weaving through pedestrians and blocking access to public rights-of-way,” Ward said. “The regulations adopted today address these concerns and limit their ability to be parked, displayed, or made available for rent on city sidewalks.”

Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell said the new regulations are not strict enough but she is glad the city is taking a step toward better regulating dockless bikes and scooters.

“Like many in our beach and bay communities, I’m disappointed the City Council would not consider a ban of electric scooters, e-bikes and other dockless options on our boardwalk,” Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell said. “While the rules approved by Council do not go as far as I would like, I’m happy to see some level of regulation and enforcement added to our municipal code.”

Supporting the regulations, Councilman Chris Cate said the rules are a way to allow the companies to operate while increasing safety measures.

“I am pleased to see the City adopt sensible regulations for dockless scooters that prioritizes public safety and embraces evolving technology,” Councilman Chris Cate said. “Resolving this issue has been one of my top priorities, and I am appreciative that my solutions will be implemented.”

LimeBike and Ofo bicycles outside the county administration building in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Jennewein