West Hollywood City Council made the Dockless Micromobility Pilot Program permanent at their meeting Monday night after months of struggling over whether or not to ban rental electric scooters and bikes from the city’s streets.
Mayor Sepi Shyne, Mayor Pro Tem John Erickson and Councilmember Chelsea Byers sealed the deal in a 3-2 vote, with Councilmembers Lauren Meister and John Heilman voting no.
“It’s not a bad thing,” Shyne said, explaining her support. “It’s a new thing.”
The motion sends the Dockless Micromobility Program out of its trial phase, extending the current framework of the program through December and reconfiguring the contract the city has with its operators, Bird and Lime. It also caps speed limits on scooters at 12 mph, institutes an escalating fee structure and institutes a $100,000 liability insurance on pedestrians.
Council’s decision came as a tough blow to residents like Mikie Friedman who have fought to have the devices banned.
Friedman says the electric scooters, seen so often strewn about sidewalks and right-of-ways, present a clear and present danger to disabled people like her. She led a wave of anti-scooter sentiment over the past year, constantly voicing her opposition in Council meetings and the press. The survey which showed a slight majority of residents want to keep scooters and which Council partly based its decision on traces its origins back to Friedman.
“Riding on the sidewalk is illegal no matter what speed you’re going,” Friedman said at the end of Monday’s meeting. “You as a city are condoning illegal behavior. And so now that it’s permanent I’m going to be looking into options for suing the city for ADA equal access.”
She ended her public comment by singing “Hatikvah,” the national anthem of Israel.