THE SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL is on the verge of deeper regulation of electric scooter usage.
I agree that a certain number of knucklehead riders give downtown scooting a bad name. Riding two people to a scooter and going the wrong way on one-way roads is a recipe for disaster.
As an early adopter of scooters, however, I can’t help but look back nostalgically at their introduction to the city.
Here’s a piece I wrote for San Diego Magazine in the summer of 2019:
In the summer of 2018, I was an independent contractor for two dock-less electric scooter companies. Bird called me a “charger.” Lime labeled me a “juicer.” I was paid to find scooters with dead batteries, take them to my condo to recharge them, and put them back on the streets at 5:30 a.m.
A crappy, menial job? It was thankless. People who see scooters as dangerous contraptions that litter the streets shot me eye daggers. To them, I was vermin.
Truth be told, I reveled in being a scooter wrangler. The hushed Gaslamp Quarter was my dimly lit movie set. Like on “Westworld,” I carried a high-tech device (my cell phone) that enabled me to detect and track “host” machines with issues.
The competition with other chargers to find and deploy scooters could get intense, since we’re paid per charge.
I usually got up at 5:30 a.m., and moved methodically from one to another. Many chargers used cars. I did it by foot. Sometimes I ran, with one eye on my “Westworld” device and the other watching for “enemy agents” (or trolleys, which start regular service at 5 a.m.).
By the end of the summer, extenuating circumstances demanded that I reluctantly give up the job. But it was exhilarating. It got me out of bed early—and since I couldn’t go back to sleep afterward, I usually went to the gym for a morning workout.
The job and the gym visits helped me lose 10 pounds. Body by Bird.
Footnote: The scooter companies stopped the practice of hiring indies like me years ago and now employ their own staffs who round up scooters by truck.
E-Scooter Regulations On the Way
Fast forward to May 24, 2022. The city council has amended the way e-scooters (and e-bikes) can be operated in the city. By August, these regulations go into effect:
- The cap on the overall scooter fleet in San Diego will be reduced from 11,050 to 8,000.
- The number of scooter operators will be cut to four. They include Lime, Link, Lyft and Spin. However: Bird has protested being dropped from the lineup and that protest is under consideration.
- The revised city ordinance requires scooter companies to verify that all riders are over 16 and have valid ID.
- It also prohibits riders from renting more than one scooter at a time.
- The city is also calling for “geofencing” technology that will help keep the devices off sidewalks and insure they are parked in designated corrals.
- A curfew on usage will exist between midnight and 2:30 a.m.
One of the most vocal anti-scooter groups is Safe Walkways SD. The group’s Facebook page has 475 members, and recent posts included:
We made some progress on regulations but they could be better.
Regulations are meaningless without monitoring for compliance and enforcement when not in compliance…
Also from Safe Walkways SD:
We got lots of “wait and see” and promises of improvement but we have had those and been “wait and see”-ing for over four years now. After a while such promises wear decidedly thin.
That said, the Council must have a Second Reading of the regulations no less than thirty days after the first, so possibly June 27th or 28th. and there is a chance changes could still be made then. Fingers crossed.
Scooters Aren’t Evil
Bearing in mind that I used to be paid to charge e-scooters, and that I frequently ride them (responsibly), let’s turn to Wired for a defense of sharing streets with the devices:
For all the media narratives focusing on the unsavory aspects of the shared scooter and bike networks that have landed in cities in recent years—the clutter, the safety hazards, the lost parking spots—these “micro-mobility” services have the potential to solve some of the biggest problems confronting urban and suburban communities. They can expand access to public transportation, reduce our environmental footprint, and save us money. Micro-mobility can be just as transformational as solar power or electric vehicles—with impacts that will be felt much sooner.
Cities certainly must address legitimate concerns over safety and how best to absorb large volumes of two-wheel traffic on their streets and sidewalks, and the solution lies in more thoughtful and equitable allocation of street space. Land and lanes should be taken away from cars and dedicated to scooters and bicycles. Public transit systems should be redesigned to better integrate and leverage emerging micro-mobility networks.
The stakes are high. For cities, there may be no faster and cheaper way to slash carbon emissions, reinvigorate mass transit, and address America’s wasteful and codependent relationship with the automobile.
With a greater good in mind, I’m for enforcement (but not over-enforcement) of scofflaw riders who put themselves and pedestrians at risk.
I’ve learned to ignore the stink eye I get from people who see me scooting up and down Fifth Avenue, even when riding inside the new curb-protected bike lane.
Hey, I’m proudly addressing America’s wasteful and codependent relationship with the automobile.
Those couples weaving through the Gaslamp Quarter two to a scooter? You’re going to need to address the amount of your health insurance’s emergency room deductible.
In Other Attributed News…
That Loving Feeling for Top Gun
Welcome back to San Diego, Tom Cruise.
Tom Cruise’s 25-years-in-the waiting flyboy movie sequel is finally out, and Top Gun: Maverick once again spotlights locations around San Diego. The world premiere of the film was held downtown on the deck of the USS Midway. Yes, Kansas City Barbecue (Marina District) burned down back in 2008. But you can still pop into the downtown “Top Gun Bar” and pose with a recreation of the piano Maverick and Goose used to belt out (ironically, in retrospect) “Great Balls of Fire.”
Too Sexy for These Streets
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria calls his infrastructure repair plan the “Sexy Streets” initiative. He recently lobbed this perspective: “My predecessor I think was very focused on small scale residential streets, often cul-de-sacs, where dozens of people might go in a day. My focus is on having the most amount of benefit for the most number of San Diegans.” Former Mayor Kevin Faulconer…you’ve been Gloria-ed! (10News)
The Purple Reign of Jacarandas
Roughly 12,000 Jacaranda trees were planted along city and county of San Diego streets–and some observers say every one of them is in bloom this May. That’s great, for awhile anyway. The purple Jacaranda petals are lovely. Until they all end up on sidewalks and streets in a big, sticky, unsexy, dark-hued mess. (NBC7)
Padres Fans Win! Padres Fans Win!
Petco Park was picked as the top MLB ballpark in 2022 by USA Today.
USA Today has decreed and San Diegans agree: Petco Park is the best Major League Baseball park in the country in 2022. The national media outlet’s For The Win writers report: “Petco Park is simply the best place to watch a baseball game. The location (embedded in downtown San Diego), the weather, the food, the beer and, of course, the stadium itself—it’s all phenomenal. Petco Park often doesn’t get the credit it deserves when compared to the Fenways and Wrigleys of the baseball world. But don’t listen to those people. Petco Park is the best stadium in baseball.”
Brookfield Out, Back In, Now Out Again
San Diego will consider bids from three of five submitting groups to redevelop the Midway District and Brookfield Properties has been booted from consideration for a second time. The company–which recently bumped up downtown rents at Vantage Pointe Apartments by 21 percent–was cited for not devoting enough attention to building affordable housing units in its Midway proposal. (Union-Tribune)
The 10-Finger Buffet
At least one downtown restaurant is reporting that brazen thieves are grabbing food from outdoor dining areas during evening meal times. Surveillance video shows a man grabbing food off plates at least twice one night at Royal India restaurant on Market Street (between Fourth and Fifth avenues). The restaurant owner believes these gross displays of street buffet are giving the tourism industry a black eye. (10News)
It’s a Wonderfront World
The Wonderfront Festival, circa 2019.
The three-day music festival that would like to steal your heart and become your new Street Scene has just announced new ticketing information. The Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival won’t happen until November 18-20, but now you can go online and buy single- ($139) or two-day ($265) ticket plans. Also available are three-day passes ($359) and a variety of VIP upgrades. (wonderfrontfestival.com)
These Courts Not Here to Serve
It’s been rediscovered that six unusable tennis courts still sit atop the downtown convention center. A recent reports says they’ll never be put back into play, due to to a litany of reasons–including repair costs and a fire marshal recommendation. Apparently, love means nothing if there’s no safe way to escape in an emergency. (CBS8)
Jabbing at Tacos
“Junior” Bermudez want to go taco-a-taco with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
At least one San Diego taco shop owner was pulling for superstar boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to win his recent title fight against Dmitry Bivol. This despite Alvarez’ major diss of San Diego tacos as being inferior. Bivol was the underdog, but managed a decision over Alvarez. Now, Alvarez has announced his next fight will be against Gennediy Golovkin. Meanwhile, Roxy’s Tacos owner “Junior” Bermudez still wants a piece of Alvarez in a taco challenge. Stay tuned. (San Diego Sun)
Give Me Everything…And A Shot
Ne-Yo in the house at Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out Sports Bar & Arcade in the Gaslamp Quarter. (Courtesy photo)
Celebrity/businessman Nick Cannon gets famous friends to visit his Wild ‘N Out Sports Bar & Arcade on Sixth Avenue. Last month: Rapper 50 Cent. Last week: singer/dancer Ne-Yo, who, when he’s not carrying Pit Bull in collabs like “Give Me Everything,” can be found sipping Henny Bombs with Cannon in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Deals & Contests
Sofar: So fun. (Photo by Sarthal Duggal: Sartographer.com)
- MUSIC MAGIC: Sofar Sounds is an international community of music fans, artists and hosts that put on semi-secret concerts every month. In San Diego, events are ramping up, with dozens of offerings in communities all over the region. Adventuresome? Want to try it out? Go to the Sofar Sounds website, select a city and pick out a show. Use the promo code: SDSUN10 and get 10 percent off the ticket price. (Note: Offer applies to one-time use per person.)
- WALK THIS WAY. Out of the Ordinary Group Adventures has a Get Fit Walking program that’s both fun and a physical fitness boon. (Check out the story about the company’s downtown San Diego scavenger hunts.) Groups that want to participate in Out of the Ordinary’s “Hidden Gems” or “Secret Beaches” walks can go HERE for details. Use the promo code: SDSun11 and get an 11-percent discount on tickets.
- OH SAY, CAN YOU SEE? Have trouble seeing the online print when reading insightful, hyperlocal newsletters? Check out Readers.com for its vast and affordable supply of reading glasses. Use the Code: SPRING40 and get 40 percent off your order. (Expires July 31, 2022.) SDSun