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Intro

Tonight, on Tuesday, July 17th, 2018, El Segundo City Council convened for its bi-monthly meeting. In addition to routine business, tonight’s meeting addressed the hot topic of Bird Scooters in El Segundo. Bird scooters have become a local buzz word of late, sparking controversy. The company’s testing phase has been met with mixed feelings. eGundo’s team personally took the scooters for a test drive and discovered fun tinged with safety concerns. With presentations from Bird representatives and El Segundo Police Department as well as feedback and questions from the Council members, the meeting covered the interests of all El Segundo residents.

Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Carol Pirsztuk introduced the discussion followed by Police Chief Whalen, Principal Planner Paul Samaras, and Tim Harder from the Bird company. Harder provided information on the purpose of the company and detailed analytics, while Paul and Tim presented a scooter study conducted by the police department itself.

What you missed at the meeting

  • Bird scooters are small, electric, motorized vehicles that people pay to ride. Bird recently deployed 30 scooters as a test throughout downtown El Segundo. The electric scooters are intended to be an energy efficient mode of public transportation with a footprint less than a bicycle.
  • The company claims their scooters will reduce traffic and parking problems as well as lower carbon emissions without investment from the city. Scooters are picked up nightly and returned in the morning. Hours of use change with local sunrise and sunset times.
  • During the El Segundo test, over 4,500 rides were recorded by over 2,000 individual riders, averaging 3.7 miles driven per day, per scooter. A survey conducted leaned in favor of the scooters, but with many restrictions.

Top Bird scooter concerns

  • Chief Whalen noted that despite laws requiring helmets, many riders during the Bird test didn’t wear one. Very few riders obeyed all the safety recommendations and state-enforced laws.
  • City Attorney Mark Hensley voiced concern over the risk of substantial lawsuit costs in the case of scooter-related injury. His recommended solution was to require the Bird Company to provide insurance covering the city.
  • Council members expressed worries over how well scooter rules could be enforced, and the lawsuits that may follow if scooters are used improperly. Another worry was the potential for unlicensed minors to use them illegally.

Potential resolutions

  • City Manager Greg Carpenter addressed the possible methods of successfully regulating scooter parking, how many scooters may be operated per city, required maintenance to ensure safety, and enforcement of rules to maintain public safety.
  • Police stated that initial violations would be addressed with an educational campaign, moving to citations after riders are fully informed of the new rules.
  • Mayor Pro Tem Carol stated that she was not opposed to an electric bike or scooter sharing program. She wants all parties involved to proceed in a manner that supports the best interests of the community, following respectful and proper channels throughout the process.

What to expect from Bird going forward

Though the Bird Company has yet to apply for a business permit or join with El Segundo in a revenue sharing program, testing of Bird Scooters in El Segundo is expected to proceed with caution. Wherever you stand on the topic of Bird Scooters, it appears as if the debate will continue. See full footage of tonight’s city council meeting below:

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