Scooter companies can direct cyclists off the sidewalk, but won’t spend money

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The entire Supes board is furious at the race administration’s failure to address the problem of technology-driven scooter companies allowing their riders to terrify and sometimes seriously injure pedestrians on roads. city ​​sidewalks.

Some supes are calling on the city to shut down all scooters until the companies, which have hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital, install the existing software that would disable the devices if they went on the sidewalk or in a public park.

Supper. Peskin says the MTA is ignoring a serious problem. It is not the first time. picture by Ebbe Roe deer Yovino-Smith

There are lives at risk here: the number of deaths from scooter accidents has tripled and collisions have increased by 58% in the last year.

There’s a much bigger problem, too: It’s yet another glaring example of how the mayor’s office under Breed and former mayor Ed Lee ignored any concerns and gave tech companies room to operate. in the city with few rules or supervision.

This city has demonstrated time and time again over the past decade that it’s unable to resist the lure of high tech – and unable to plan ahead to regulate companies that can disrupt life. people and creating chaos in the name of skyrocketing stock market valuations and speculative profit.

Lime, one of the main companies, is funded by Uber (which also made millions by breaking city law while Mayor Lee ignored the violations) and the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund.

It’s who benefits from scooters and the absence or efficient regulation of the city. It’s a story we’ve seen time and time again, and there’s no indication that under this tech-friendly mayor it’s going away.

At a board meeting on Tuesday, Sup. Aaron Peskin said the scooter is rampant on sidewalks and the administration is letting it.

He pointed to the mayor’s director of the Municipal Transportation Agency, Jeffrey Tumlin, saying that “the SFMTA does not intervene, and it starts with Mr. Tumlin himself.”

Tumlin, Peskin said, insists that scooters are a “first mile to last mile solution, but he doesn’t seem to care that it’s primarily a tourist ride that scares our residents. The answer I get from Mr. Tumlin is that we need more bike lanes. Damn, we need more bike lanes. But right now we need the scooters off the sidewalks.

It’s not that hard: Companies have the option of installing what’s called geolocation software, which turns off devices when they leave legal areas of city streets.

This is already done in other cities. Supper. Shamann Walton said he was in Atlanta last weekend for the 49ers game and (for the first time) rode one of the scooters. When he arrived at Centennial Park, the scooter cut out, he said, and he had to park it at a transit center across from the stadium.

“That’s the technology they have,” Peskin said. “They can do it here, but they don’t because it’s not part of their business model.”

Walton asked SFMTA local government affairs manager Joel Ramos why scooter companies don’t use this technology to direct cyclists off the sidewalk. Ramos said we “asked them to employ it…within the current permit structure.”

Walton: “Why do we ask and not demand?”

Ramos: “There are terms of the contract that we try to respect.”

And there you get the essence of the fundamental problem of how San Francisco’s executive leadership deals with new technologies. Give companies permission now and worry about the impact later.

Existing permits do not require companies to move scooters away from sidewalks; well, that’s the deal the MTA made, so pediatricians have to be prepared to step aside.

Supper. Ahsha Safai, who is one of the more conservative board members, joined the resolution calling on the MTA to mandate geofencing or shut down scooters.

“I came within an inch of being run over” on Geary, he said, by someone riding a scooter at 20 miles an hour on the sidewalk.

I hope he and the rest of the supes understand how this happened and what the lessons will be for the next Big Tech Thing.

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