Scooters are Back on San Francisco Streets

Scoot and Skip rolled out their two-wheelers — legally — Monday morning.

(Photo: Skip)

Before the crack of dawn this morning, the beloved and berated electric rental scooters returned to San Francisco. After a four-month scooter ban was enacted by the City Attorney in June, two scooter companies were awarded the privilege of being permitted to operate legally in the city, effective today.

Notably, the scooters released into the wild today are new players to San Francisco; none of them are the Lime, Bird, or Spin scooters that dropped on the streets illegally last April. The new scooters are from Skip (black with yellow trim and teal blue decals) and Scoot (red with black trim). Both cost $1 to start and 15 cents for each minute riding.

The return of the scooters was nearly blocked by a restraining order filed by a disgruntled competitor.  Spurned scooter purveyor Lime, whose permit application was denied by the SFMTA, sued to stop their competitors’ permits from going into effect. A judge denied that restraining order Friday, allowing Scoot and Skip to roll out here today.

Only 1,250 scooters are allowed during this six-month pilot program, but if all goes well that number could double in April 2019. SFMTA has released a set of scooter parking rules, and the scooter companies are held responsible if their riders park improperly on sidewalks.

It’s not just the scooter riders that are excited about the return. There’s a whole community of gig economy scooter bounty hunters who seek out the scooters to recharge overnight in their private homes or apartments, generally for $5 per vehicle. (Skip will utilize contractors known as “Rangers” to recharge batteries, while Scoot has company employees who handle recharging.)

But that alone might be an issue; the charging of scooters in private homes has historically resulted in large electrical fires in St. Paul, Minnesota, Singapore, and China.

The return of the scooters means one more way to get around town, but now that they’re officially permitted by the city, will the anti-scooter rage subside? Time (and Twitter) will tell.

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