The City of Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) announced today the issuing of the next round of official e-scooter permits. The annual permits will allow three operators to provide the popular shared mobility service while addressing concerns observed during the first year of the program. The three operators selected are:
Each company’s permit application was reviewed by a team of City staff, who determined the eligibility of these operators based on an ordinance passed by the City Council in September 2018. This year’s permit added several new requirements designed to address issues and concerns related to rider injuries, scooters obstructing sidewalks and scooters thrown into Lake Merritt.
E-scooters will now be required to include integrated locking mechanisms that allow them to lock to bike racks. The new locking requirement will help to ensure that scooters not left obstructing sidewalks, curb ramps or bus stops. Similar requirements have led to large reductions in scooter-related complaints in other cities. In order to maintain access to bike racks for cyclists, operators may lock no more than one scooter to each rack. In addition, fees collected from the scooter program will be used to fund the installation of hundreds of new bike racks per year. These racks will be installed where data show the demand is highest, and by request. Community members can request a rack by filling out a simple form on the City’s website: https://www.oaklandca.gov/services/request-a-bike-rack
“Oakland has been a leader in providing new, innovative transportation alternatives to enable people to travel in the ways that work best for them and reduce dependence on vehicle ownership,” OakDOT Director Ryan Russo said. “We are continuing to push for these services to evolve and adapt to our community’s needs. This latest evolution strengthens the safety of these services and we’re excited to keep working with service providers to make these options accessible and safe for all Oaklanders.”
Other new requirements include a 9” minimum wheel size, equitable distribution zones and more details about adaptive vehicles for persons with disabilities. With minimum 9” diameter wheels – slightly larger than most e-scooter wheels seen thus far in Oakland -- the e-scooters will be better equipped to safely navigate our streets than earlier models with only 7” or 8” wheels. More detailed equitable distribution requirements mandate that 10% of all vehicles are available in Fruitvale/San Antonio and 10% are deployed in East Oakland. Oakland was the first city in the United States to require adaptive scooters for persons with disabilities. The updated permit added more details to that requirement, mandating that adaptive scooters have three wheels, a seat and a basket.
Operators can launch their e-scooter fleets as early as the week of November 1st, but companies may take several months to deploy their e-scooters. Existing permittees from the 2019-2020 permit term will cease operations on November 1st. A total of 1475 scooters will be allowed under the new program: 600 for LINK, 250 for SPIN and 625 for VeoRide. Operators can request fleet increases if they are experiencing strong ridership and meeting permit rules.
In 2019, Oakland residents and visitors took almost two million trips on e-scooters, covering 1.7 million miles. According to the City’s 2019 survey of e-scooter riders, approximately 41% of these trips would have been taken by car, if scooters were not available. E-scooters help solve the “last mile” problem, increasing Oaklanders access BART stations, jobs and other destinations. The survey showed that 37% of riders use e-scooters to access public transportation at least once a week.
Under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, shared vehicle operators nationwide, including all service providers and e-scooter operators in Oakland, have greatly increased the frequency of vehicle cleaning and disinfection. Although there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 transmission from an e-scooter, City staff are regularly tracking industry best practices for disinfection and sanitization to ensure they are implemented here in Oakland.
All permit holders will be added to the City’s OAK311 service, to allow staff and the public to report and monitor complaints of improper parking and other issues. To report online or through the OAK311 app – click or tap “report,” provide a photo of the faulty or mis-parked scooter, select a location, scroll to the “bicycle or scooter” category, click or tap the corresponding company, and provide an optional short description of the issue. Complaints will be forwarded to the appropriate company representative to address within three hours.
To request a bike rack, fill out a simple form available on at: https://www.oaklandca.gov/services/request-a-bike-rack