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City impounds 66 electric scooters for ‘obstructing’ sidewalks

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A man rides a Bird dockless rental electric scooter on Market Street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The City impounded 66 “shared” electric scooters in a sweeping action Friday morning after complaints that they were blocking sidewalks.

San Francisco Public Works crews collected rentable electric scooters that were found in the Financial District and downtown, among other neighborhoods, the agency said.

Those scooters, owned by rental companies Spin, Bird and Limebike, were found to be “tripping hazards” after they drew numerous complaints through The City’s 311 call system, said Rachel Gordon, a public works spokesperson.

“We got a lot of complaints,” she told the San Francisco Examiner. “We just want to ensure the path of travel is safe to use.”

Gordon said those scooter companies may owe a minimum fine of $125 per scooter, 14 of which belonged to Limebike, 23 to Spin and 29 to Bird. The scooters will be held at a public works facility until the companies retrieve them.

The scooters, which sit on public sidewalks and can be unlocked by mobile phone app for a set price, have drawn criticism for blocking sidewalks and for the behavior of riders who often ride them illegally on sidewalks since they debuted in San Francisco in late March. Supervisor Aaron Peskin and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are crafting a permit process for these electric scooters. The regulations may also lead to punitive measures for scofflaw behavior on city streets.

Pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco launched a social media campaign this week asking San Franciscans to broadcast photos and videos of scofflaw scooter riders, and scooters blocking sidewalks, usingthe hashtag #ScooterBehavingBadly on social media.

The name is a play on the KRON 4 news segment by Stanley Roberts, People Behaving Badly, in which the intrepid television journalist has confronted people violating street laws by the dozen. In that vein, Walk SF has collected photos of people riding scooters on sidewalks and parkingthem on sidewalks illegally, an alleged violation of California Vehicle Code 21235.

Already some members of the public have contributed their photos to the Facebook photo album showing Limebike, Spin and Bird scooters piled on the sidewalks at Pier 39, laying in the middle of the sidewalk at Van Ness and Pacific Avenues, in the middle of the stairs a the Van NessAvenue Muni station and in the middle of park walkways.

Some Facebook users posted video of people riding the electric push scooters on sidewalks, illegally. Facebook user Christopher Huth even caught someone on video riding a Limebike scooter inside a Market Street Walgreens, at 4th Street.

“San Francisco’s sidewalks must remain a safe, protected space for people to walk. Suddenly, motorized vehicles are zooming along the sidewalks. That’s unsafe, and it’s illegal,” said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco, in a statement. “People walking on the sidewalkare getting hit by these scooters. The scooters are littering the sidewalks and creating hazards. We will not tolerate this.”

Walk SF shared the story of Hayes Valley resident Scott Polizzi, who they said was taken to an emergency room after tripping over a dockless motorized scooter as he left his 63rd birthday dinner.

“I live next to a senior center, and I’m more concerned for the seniors who might break an ankle or worse yet, fracture their hip from tripping over one of these scooters. Sidewalks need to be respected, and cleared for space to walk. We have so little space already,” Polizzi said, in WalkSF’s statement.

A hearing on Peskin’s proposed scooter regulations is scheduled for the Board of Supervisors Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the board legislative chamber, room 250.

Young man speeding on downtown SF sidewalks. #scootersBehavingBadly

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