Elected officials from around Monterey County aren’t keen to jump on board shared electric scooters and bikes anytime soon.
In fact, representatives from the 12 cities and five county districts on the Transportation Agency for Monterey County's board of directors put the brakes on a proposal by TAMC staff to adopt new agency policies concerning dockless scooters and bikes at a board meeting on Feb. 27.
TAMC Transportation Planner Stefania Castillo told the board that shared e-scooters—like the Lime Scooters currently in use at CSU Monterey Bay—and e-bikes are seen as a good solution to the challenge of “first mile/last mile” in commuting trips, referring to gaps between home or work and mass transit stops.
They could also replace vehicles on short trips to shopping centers and other retail locations, Castillo said. The possible impact of people using scooters and bikes could mean positive reductions in traffic congestion and carbon dioxide levels.
Another positive outcome is companies sharing GPS data with cities that can in turn be used for planning where best to put bike lanes or other improvements, based on the most utilized routes.
Five cities have already approached TAMC staff asking for guidance in adopting policies to regulate the scooters and bikes: Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas and Seaside.
(The Carmel City Council voted unanimously in November to ban the services, citing the town's narrow sidewalks.)
Staff from interested cities were also asked to see a sample ordinance, so TAMC staff created one using best practices from other cities and counties.
The draft ordinance includes requirements such as parking, which neighborhoods must be included in service areas, hours of availability, safety regulations, liability and permit fees.
Board members had lots of questions and concerns around helmets and safety and the prospect of scooters or bikes littering sidewalks creating hazards, among other issues.
Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado reported that since Lime Scooters appeared in the city last October, they’re seeing safety issues like riders not using helmets, people riding scooters after dark wearing dark clothing and more than one person using the scooters. (California law does not require the use of helmets for adults.)
Another problem they’re seeing: minor children riding scooters, despite company rules against it. Delgado said family members are activating the apps on children’s smartphones using an adult’s credit card and contact information to get around the company prohibition.
At the end of the discussion, no TAMC board members were willing to take a formal vote on adopting any official policies or draft ordinance wording for dockless bikes and scooters, despite the fact the vote would not commit or require cities or the county to take any action on their own.
“I see this as an opportunity for TAMC staff to keep us abreast of what’s going on,” said TAMC Board Chair Robert Huitt, a Pacific Grove councilmember, before the board agreed to accept the presentation as a report only.