Thursday, January 3, 2019

Stringent E-Scooter Regulations for San Jose

Guest Post by written by Samantha Larson

The San Jose scooter fad may come to a halt due to new legislation. Last week, the San Jose City Council passed stringent laws against scooter companies to help mitigate the serious safety concerns they present for residents.

To continue operating in San Jose’s city limits, scooter companies, such as Lime, Bird, and Wind, must receive a permit, pay an annual permit application fee of $2,500 and fork over $124 per scooter each year to continue operations. But with an estimated worth of $1 billion and $1.1 billion, these fees are merely chump change to Bird and Lime.

The real hard-hitting legislation is that these companies must also protect the city from legal claims and obtain sizable insurance. In addition to a rise in scooter-related injuries, scooters pose a serious threat to an already seriously high rate of pedestrian accidents in San Jose. To help combat these statistics, the ordinance will limit scooter speeds to 12 MPH, and come July, will force companies to find a solution to keep scooters off public sidewalks.

If companies fail to keep scooters off public property, the ordinance requires a 24-hour customer service line in three languages, English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, to respond to reports of improperly stored scooters within a two-hour window. Companies will also have to consider the socio-economic impact of their service: the ordinance mandates scooters will need to be equally distributed to low-income areas and provide discounts to low-income users. User data will be shared with the city of San Jose to track the number of devices and user behavior.

Any violation of the rules above will cost companies $100 for their first offense, rising to $500 fines for repeat offenders, with the possibility of having their permits revoked.

But San Jose is far from the only city passing stringent laws. Many cities nationwide are facing the duality of scooter presence; on one hand, scooters are eco-friendly and low-cost, but on the other hand, they pose a serious personal injury and public safety threat.

Since the birth of e-scooter dockless sharing began in February of 2018, it has helped San Jose towards its goal of climate change consciousness and Vision Zero. This being said, it has also birthed and exacerbated issues of pedestrian safety, equitable access, and rider education.

Though the ordinance is expected to come into practice by February, it is possible 2019 can bring even more changes for scooter services and rider expectations to best fit the needs and demands of San Jose city life.


  1. The value of these companies being $1 billion-plus has nothing to do with their ability to pay fees since those are cash expenses. Because they are valued at those amounts doesn’t mean the company has that amount in cash. In fact, these companies lose money. So those added fees certainly impact the financials and long-term viability.

  2. Unfortunately, we have another example of how things go bad trying to get the government over involved. While I agree there needs to be regulations for proper storage and safe riding, these fees And forced discounts for low-income users are ridiculous. It does not matter how much the company is worth, imposing high fees and unjust regulations create damage for a business. The only ones that will pay are the customers because now they will raise their costs to cover the imposed regulations.
    Wake up, America.

  3. More bullshit regulations and city enforced fees. Plus, the notion that everyone must be treated equal and if you can not afford to ride the scooter then the price must be discounted. What ever happened to 'if you can't afford it you can't have it'?!?! That might be just the kind of incentive people need to better their socio-economic standing.

  4. We should be restricting parking locations and speed of cars, not scooters. Scooters don't pollute, they take up far less space than cars, and they are responsible for fewer accidents. If they are unsafe, it's because our streets are unsafe for anyone not in a car. The first city to integrate their transit system with scooter shares and ride-hailing will be a major success.

  5. For a city that is trying to be green, scooters seem to be a real solution to the last mile problem that San Jose has, especially since the public transportation for San Jose is poor. I don't understand why San Jose feels to the need to impose these regulations.