Changes to shared mobility device regulations in San Diego

A line of scooters

A line of scooters. | Photo via Canva

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New rules will be rolling out soon: San Diego City Council unanimously voted to amend regulations to shared mobility devices (SMDs) like electric scooters + dockless bikes.

The devices provide an additional transportation option, but the city also has a lot of SMDs + operators. Changes aren’t too far down the road, though. Whether you ride them — or just share spaces with them — your experience is going to look wheelie different.

Two Bird scooters on a Pacific Beach sidewalk

Scooters on the sidewalk in Pacific Beach. | Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

🛴 Why amend regulations?

Summer crowds are fast approaching, and scooter usage has increased. The city hopes to design a sustainable transportation model, meeting the needs of its residents. Data shows that only 6,000-7,000 of the city’s 11,500 devices are deployed on average, and residents have long expressed concerns about usage.

The new regulations are not designed to be anti-scooter — they’re designed to be pro-pedestrian traffic — to help halt the rising number of injuries + assign liability to operating companies.

📋 What will change?

  • A maximum of 8,000 devices in the city
  • Only four operators will be chosen to be allowed in the city
  • Age verification requirement ensuring all riders are 16+, and can only rent one device at a time
  • Prohibition of parking outside of specified, corral areas — operators will have one hour to respond to a violating device
  • Operators will pay a $20,000 annual fee + a 75-cent daily fee for each deployable device
  • Bans + enforcement on sidewalk riding

The proposed changes seek to increase accountability while limiting the number of distributors + SMDs. Currently, San Diego has seven operators: Bird, Lime, Link, Spin, Lyft, Wheels + VeoRide. With the reduction in representation — and penalties for operators whose SMDs do not comply with the new laws, including fines + the risk of impoundment — enforcement of the new rules won’t fall on taxpayers.

A parking corral with shared mobility devices in San Diego

An example of scooters in a parking corral. | Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

⏱️ What’s next?

The city’s current scooter permits expire in July — so the four companies will then need to sign new operating agreements, adhering to the new regulations. Riders will be able to continue using available SMDs while following city rules.