Electric scooters impounded during pop-up in Santa Barbara

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jun 08, 2018

Rentable scooters made their way to downtown Santa Barbara on Friday against the city’s wishes, so workers scooped them up and impounded them.

LimeBike, a bike- and scooter-sharing company, released 100 electronic scooters for a weekend pop-up presentation at the Impact Hub Santa Barbara to show people how to use the scooters.

Santa Barbara city officials say existing municipal code regulations conflict with the scooter deployment. The city tried to work with LimeBike on a process for introducing the scooters but the company went ahead and put the scooters on the street Friday.

City of Santa Barbara Transportation Planning and Parking Manager Rob Dayton said Friday morning he told LimeBike "immediately by phone and in writing that scooters will be impounded today at 1:00pm. The impounding is in process now and is being conducted by Public Works with assistance as needed from the Police Department."

"We see the electric scooter share as potentially having transportation and economic vitality benefits to the City.  But we are also concerned about the safety of our citizens and their use of the scooters," said Rebecca Bjork, Public Works Director.

City staff is bringing an emergency ordinance to city council on June 19 with a goal to "bring safety and accountability to scooter share and its providers through a limited one-year pilot program."

How it works:
Lime-S scooters cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute to ride. You use a phone app to pay for and use them. The company has partnered with almost 50 businesses in Santa Barbara to distribute the scooters. The scooters can be parked anywhere, but the company said in a press release it encourages users to park them responsibly. The electric scooters are collected on a daily basis, charged overnight and redistributed the next day.

This product is available in 60 other markets across the U.S. and 17 cities across California. People have been known to ride the scooters on sidewalks without a helmet and leave them on the sidewalk or in places where people can trip over them.

San Francisco is one of the cities where Lime scooters are available. San Franciscans are divided on the scooters. On Monday, the city banned the dockless scooters until the company gets a permit.

In San Diego and Coronado, city workers recently taped and stapled notices for the public not to ride Lime products, saying they needed to be picked up by LimeBike or they would be thrown away.