Electric scooter rental company wants to set up in San Luis Obispo

Posted at 6:11 PM, Sep 13, 2018

Could electric scooter rentals be coming to the City of San Luis Obispo?

That question that will soon be decided.

We all know that San Luis Obispo is a bike-friendly community with a bike rack almost everywhere you turn, but electric scooters seem to be the new trend.
"I’m from the Bay Area and I worked in the San Mateo area and they have them everywhere. Not that same brand, but similar," said Cal Poly student Sophia Corolla.

Several major cities have electric scooter rentals that start up with a just a few clicks on an app.

It appears the scooter company "Bird" planned to land in San Luis Obispo on Thursday, but it would have been a crash landing, as it did not get city approval, according to Mayor Heidi Harmon.
"It was a surprise to us," Harmon said. "Maybe that’s Bird’s guerilla marketing style to kind of come into a community, surprise the community with what they’re up to."

The city was tipped off and they quickly said, "not so fast."
"I know that staff has been engaging with the company directly to say, ‘Woah, let’s make sure we get the right permits, let’s make sure we have the right infrastructure,’" Harmon continued.

If you’re not familiar, here’s how the electric scooter rentals actually work: 

  • You download an app, find a scooter and take a ride.
  • It costs just $1 to rent and about 15 cents per minute.
  • After you use it, you can drop it off wherever you like.

"I know in some communities there’s been some concerns about them being left willy-nilly and sort of things like that, so we want to make sure we don’t have to deal with those consequences here," Harmon added.

Bird hires "chargers" or people who pick up the scooters, charge them at home and then bring them back to the community the next day. 

"My opinion is, what for?" questioned Howard Weisenthal who was riding his bike through town on Thursday. "Just don’t really need them here. It’s a small town, one side of town to the other you can walk from business to business. Get a bike."

"I think it’s actually a pretty good idea because, especially for freshmen who don’t have cars, it’s kind of hard to get around, so I think this would be a good way for them to get to where they need to go," Corolla said.

The company sent the following statement to KSBY: "Bird looks forward to meeting with San Luis Obispo city officials so that we can soon bring our affordable, environmentally friendly service to the SLO community. We are committed to working closely with every city in which we operate, and we are thrilled to kick off this process with San Luis Obispo next week."

The city says it has plans to meet with the company on Tuesday.
San Luis Obispo Interim Deputy City Manager Greg Hermann also sent a statement saying, "The City is happy to be in direct communication with Bird and will be meeting with them next week to learn more about their proposal for San Luis Obispo. Just like any other business, they would need the appropriate license and permits to operate in the city. A part of that includes ensuring rider and community safety along with compliance with other relevant laws. We look forward to working collaboratively with the company and community in determining the fit for our city."

Bird e-scooters are in cities across the U.S. and the world, including San Diego, Denver, Portland, and even Paris.