Electric scooters are about to return to the streets of West Hollywood, joined by electric bicycles. Tuesday night, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously approved a pilot program allowing three vendors to rent the vehicles in the city.
Bird and Lime will offer e-scooters in the city while Wheels, a West Hollywood-based company, will offer e-bicycles. Each company will have 100 of their vehicles available for rent in the city as part of an 18-month pilot program.
This new “dockless mobility” program has been in the planning stages for over a year, but was delayed when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Initially, the City Council was only interested in considering electric bikes as part of the program, but decided to add the e-scooters.
The Council noted there has been strong demand for the scooters among residents, especially for first mile/last mile transport devices. Newly elected Councilmember John Erickson reported while he was campaigning for office, residents routinely requested getting the scooters back.
The city’s original bicycle rental program with WeHo Pedals, offering a regular pedal bicycle for rent, was started in summer 2016. However, the city canceled the program in late 2018 when it proved to be a money-losing venture.
E-scooters first appeared in the city back in March 2018, without any advance notice to or approval from the city. That led the City Council to ban the rental of the e-scooters in the city, especially after problems arose with riders leaving the scooters on the sidewalks or anywhere else they wanted.
However, the e-scooters were readily available for rent in adjacent areas of Los Angeles, so people could still easily ride them in West Hollywood.
Eventually, technical problems and supply issues caused the scooter companies to withdraw many of their e-scooters from the area. However, those problems seem to now be resolved.
The city will establish corrals along major streets for renting and returning the bikes and scooters. It is unclear how the city will handle abandoned e-bikes and e-scooters that are not returned to the corrals.
Even though the pilot program is for 18 months, the City Council scheduled reviews of the program for every six months. Under the terms of the agreement, the city is able to easily get out of the contract with any of the vendors if problems arise.
The e-scooters and e-bikes should be available for rent in the city by early spring.
With approval of this pilot program, the City Council took the step of banning riding of the e-scooters on sidewalks. Riding bikes on the sidewalk is already banned.
At its Jan. 13 meeting, the Public Facilities Commission voted unanimously to recommend against approving the e-scooters in the city due to public safety
concerns with the infrastructure and placement of corrals.