If you have been out of your house and out-and-about around Long Beach in the past couple of months, chances are you have seen these motorized scooters, either parked on the sidewalk or zipping past you.
But what are they, exactly? Here is a run-down of what they are, where they come from, and how to ride on them.
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We are actually seeing the outcome of a pilot program that the city of Long Beach is running. The idea is to provide residents and visitors another form of “shared mobility” to get around, in the form of an electric scooter. The pilot program only runs until the end of this month (October 31, 2018), and it allows six different companies to set out 150 electric scooters around the city.
More About the Logistics of the Pilot Program
The city has six operators who are taking part in the program and they have split Long Beach into three different zones. Each of the different operators has agreed to keep 20% of their fleet in each zone so that the people who live in different neighborhoods can see how each company varies and runs their business based on the needs and surroundings of that neighborhood.
When it’s time for the pilot program to wrap up, the City will take a look at how each operator served their designated community over the allotted three-month timeframe. Depending on the outcome, the city will then decide whether to make the program permanent, and will decide which operator (or multiple operators) will be granted licenses to establish a long-term business here.
Why it Took Long Beach so Long to Get the Scooters
If you have been to San Diego or San Francisco recently, or certain parts of Los Angeles like Venice Beach, you will have definitely noticed that these scooters are what seems to be like everywhere. So what took Long Beach so long to jump on the scooter train?
The city basically wanted to wait, watch, and learn from what other cities were facing with allowing e-scooters to take the streets. What city leaders saw was that they were working quite nicely, so they decided to give it a shot. They also were able to see some of the problems that other pilot programs had to deal with and were able to put a better program together that would be able to meet the specific needs of Long Beach.
Some Things You Should Know Before Hopping on a Scooter
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Riders need to be at least 18 years old and also have a valid driver’s license. They are technically also required to wear a helmet, and if they don’t have one they can request one from the scooter operator. Scooters are not permitted on sidewalks and should be ridden in bike lanes as much as possible. They should also be parked out of the roadway and off of sidewalks, out of the way of pedestrians. There’s a service hotline that customers can call with questions (562) 908-3516.
The Future of Scooters in Long Beach
The pilot program is coming to an end, so we really just have to wait and see what will happen. All scooters need to be cleared from streets by operators by noon on October 31. After that, each of the operating companies needs to submit a formal report to the City that includes a summary of the pilot program, and detail how that operator could be able to benefit mobility around Long Beach in the future.
Love them or hate them, it has been an interesting experience to see people riding the scooters around town, and seeing them parked in random spots. They are no doubt a lot of fun to ride around and enjoy the city without having to walk far, worry about a bike getting stolen, or finding a parking spot. As long as riders take the proper safety precautions, electric scooters could very well be the next “thing” around the City, just like those light blue bicycles that have become a Long Beach trademark.