San Francisco announces next steps in regulating shared, powered scooters

New city law halting unpermitted scooter operations in effect June 4, scooter permitting system now activated

SF Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin at a press conference earlier today.

SAN FRANCISCO (May 24, 2018) — Today, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and San Francisco Public Works announced the city’s next steps in regulating shared, powered scooters in San Francisco.

Under city law unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors on April 24, 2018 and signed by Mayor Mark Farrell, any company operating shared, powered scooters in San Francisco must have a permit from the SFMTA to park their scooters on sidewalks or other public spaces. In compliance with this new law, which takes effect on June 4, any scooter company operating in the city, including Lime, Spin and Bird, is required to remove its scooters from city sidewalks by June 4.

The SFMTA today made a permit application available at for companies interested in offering shared, powered scooters in San Francisco. Applications for the SFMTA’s new “Powered Scooter Share Permit Program” are due by 5 p.m. PT on June 7. The SFMTA will review the applications and expects to determine which, if any, companies qualify for a permit by the end of June.

“San Francisco supports transportation innovation and erectile dysfunction treatment, but it cannot come at the price of public safety,” Herrera said. “This permit program represents a thoughtful, coordinated and effective approach to ensure that San Francisco strikes the right balance. We can have innovation, but it must keep our sidewalks safe and accessible for all pedestrians. We can have convenience, but it can’t sacrifice privacy and equity along the way. This program is a strong step forward. It provides the framework to ensure that companies operating in the public right of way are doing so lawfully and are accountable for their products.” 

In tandem with the new permitting system, the SFMTA has established a 12-month pilot program to collect data, evaluate and assess whether further increases in scooters would serve the public interest. As part of the pilot, up to five qualified companies could be issued permits to operate shared, powered scooters in San Francisco. To be considered, they must submit complete applications demonstrating a commitment and capability to meet all permit requirements. 

“We support the spirit of innovation that the scooter companies bring to creating sustainable options for getting around and will be holding them to high standards in the public interest,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation, Ed Reiskin. “The new permit system and pilot program is an opportunity for responsible companies to work with the city in a way that prioritizes public safety, equity and accountability.”

As part of their permit application, companies must demonstrate how they will minimize their impact on San Francisco’s sidewalks, while maximizing transparency to the public. Specifically, operators would need to provide user education, be insured, share trip data with the city, have a privacy policy that safeguards user information, offer a low-income plan, and submit a proposed service area plan for city approval. Operators also will need to provide a plan that addresses sidewalk riding and sidewalk parking.

“San Francisco is a vibrant and congested city, and this pilot will demonstrate whether these common-sense regulations address our concerns around the proliferation of powered scooters,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “We must ensure that our sidewalks are kept safe and accessible for pedestrians.”

For the first six months of the pilot, a total of 1,250 scooters may be permitted. If the first six months are successful, the total number of scooters may increase to 2,500 in months seven through 12. The cap is sufficient to allow for a thorough evaluation of the scooter sharing operating model in San Francisco, while minimizing the potential for sidewalk crowding and safety impacts during the pilot phase. This cap is also generally consistent with the number of scooters the city believes are currently operating in San Francisco.

Any shared, powered scooter found on city streets or sidewalks after June 4 without a permit will be subject to impounding by San Francisco Public Works and operators will be fined $100 per scooter per day by the SFMTA in addition to all other applicable city fees and penalties. Further, any company violating the law by operating a shared, powered scooter system without a permit will be denied a permit from the SFMTA.