San Antonio Sets Cap On Electric Scooters, Bikes | Texas Public Radio

San Antonio Sets Cap On Electric Scooters, Bikes

Jan 22, 2019

Updated 8:45 p.m.

No new permits will be issued to electric scooter companies in San Antonio, as the City Council's transportation council Tuesday effectively ended the "light touch" phase of regulating scooters within city limits.

The number of permitted scooters grew to 12,000 with an additional 2,000 e-bikes.

“Now that we are seeing what is happening, we can start to develop regulations from what we are seeing, as opposed to putting in a bunch of regulations where we haven’t experienced it yet,” said John Jacks, director of San Antonio’s center city development department.

The committee voted 3-1 for the moratorium. District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales voted against the limit, saying she wants more investment in alternative transportation infrastructures, including bike lanes, designated scooter parking and other accommodations that would reduce community frustrations.

The changes will be incorporated into rules regulating a six-month pilot program, which City Council passed Oct. 11 and ends April 19.

The next items up for a vote at a Feb. 14 meeting include:

  • Limiting the hours of operation from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Requiring all scooters be picked up daily
  • Encourage the use of designated parking
  • Immediate removal of scooters from prohibited areas

The rules were due to their rapid rise in popularity. Jacks said the scooters have already been ridden 1.2 million times.

District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez said he has gotten hundreds of calls and emails complaining about the e-scooters. From riders not following traffic laws to improperly parked scooters obstructing sidewalks, many council members wanted changes.

“There was a time when the thing I disliked the most about coming downtown was the grackles.” he said, “now it’s scooters.”

Ana Sandoval, councilwoman for District 7, agreed.

“Clearly, what we are doing isn’t working,” she said.

Parking enforcement and Centro San Antonio ambassadors have moved 15,000 scooters so they weren’t violating the law. By contrast, the city has impounded 70 scooters.

“Education was our first two months, now we are focusing on enforcement,” said Lori Houston, assistant city manager.

City staff said San Antonio Police officers, who are on overtime, will begin patrolling popular areas for underaged riders and people riding unsafely. The city also estimates it needs to hire four people full time to address impounding and infractions of parked scooters.

Paul Flahive can be reached at paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive