SCOOTERS!!!

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Category: Community News
Published on Thursday, 14 February 2019 13:37
Written by D. V. Lawrence
 While pulling up to a stop sign, I nearly hit a young teen riding a scooter. He wasn't wearing a helmet and came whipping around a corner toward me, forcing me to slam on my brakes. A few days later I saw a group of 12-14-year -old kids fighting over a scooter in the middle of Venice Blvd. well after the light had turned red. They seem to be everywhere. We see scooters lying on the ground in neighborhoods, groups of them left standing on main streets.  South Park dedicated a whole hilarious episode to the scooter invasion.  So I thought I’d go to a source of traffic information, the West Traffic Division of Operation - West Bureau. I met with Sgt. Danny Eun and Officer Schoop and asked them, “So what the heck!?”

FEB19 scooter webTNN:Thank you so much for meeting with me. What is the police position on these scooters?

Sgt. Eun: As long as the law deems them legal, there are parameters to what we can enforce or not enforce.  The powers above us made it, passed it. There's California vehicle codes, Los Angeles municipal codes. The electric scooter companies got permission from the city, they got the needed permits, so they're in effect and we can't control that.

In the beginning, like anything else, it was so new we had to kind of see how things flowed, if there are any issues and so forth, but there are a lot of vehicle codes that govern the use of electric scooters (see end of article).

I think one of the first testing grounds was the city of Santa Monica. The idea behind the scooters is that it'll save people from driving in the roads, hence minimizing vehicular traffic, which partially is true. But at the same time we are aware of some of the issues going on with the use of scooters.

We have often had young kids riding scooters that do not meet the age requirement, which is basically 16 and up and you also have to have a license or a driver's permit to operate them.

TNN: Can you tell our readers how the scooter system works?

Sgt. Eun:   An individual downloads an app and sets up an account. The scooter automatically charges your account and gives you access. You can ride it somewhere, leave it, and I think you sign off. The company tracks the scooters and so forth.

Officer Ernie is in charge of public education. He'll go to different schools, senior centers or any community forum and educate the people about various traffic topics. And one of the topics he does cover is the use of scooters and all the laws that pertain to it, and some of the issues involved.

One of the challenges, if you will, is that we’ve got so many other traffic problems on top of the problems with scooters we just can't fully devote 100 percent of our attention to scooter enforcement.

TNN:How do you enforce  the law? How do you even catch them? There are clearly a lot of laws being broken. Very rarely do I see anybody with a helmet on.

Officer Schoop:  Motorcycles have a better chance than a police car because we're a little bit smaller and we can kind of maneuver and so forth. Is it still challenging if they're zipping in and out of different alleys? Yes. But that's like any other case where if you try to pull a car over or a motorcycle over and they cooperate, then that's the end of that, and people usually do cooperate even on the scooters.

I also think that if there were more enforcement, we could educate more.

TNN:What happens when you stop them?

Officer Schoop:  It can result in either a citation, a warning, or verbal education because our goal at the end of the day is to educate everyone.

One instance was an incident near Fairfax High School. We had complaints. So we sent the motorcycle over, and he positioned himself at an ideal location where the scooters were funneling in.  And then he waved the violators over and stopped them and talked with them.

TNN: How bad is the scooter issue?

Sgt. Eun:  It’s just one of many issues we deal with. I wouldn't say it's necessarily a bigger problem than anything else because when it comes to traffic problems in the city of Los Angeles, we've got plenty. We’ve got a lot of cars, too many cars for the roads. We’ve got speeding issues, turn violations, pedestrian issues, we have bicycle issues, so it's just one aspect to the overall traffic problems we're dealing with.

Officer Schoop:  We know throughout the department, this is a huge issue. And like my boss said, we've got problematic areas but as a whole within this city, this is huge.

TNN:Do you have any statistics on how many accidents have happened?

Sgt. Eun:  In 2018, in operation Westborough, which covers Olympic division, Wilshire division, Hollywood, Pacific, and SOA, we had 64 accidents involving scooters, and only two serious injuries from the accidents. That square mileage is 121 square miles, quite a large real estate. So most of the injuries were just very minor in nature.

TNN:Well, this has been very informative and thank you so much for taking the time to get our community up to speed on this issue.

Sgt. Eun:  And if you have any other questions, by all means, call us.

For a deeper dive into the background, business model and city responses to Scooter companies we recommend excellent articles in Curbed.com Just do a search for 'Scooters'

LAWS PERTAINING TO THE USE OF SCOOTERS

Section 21223

(a)(1)  Headlamp at night.

(a)(2)  Red reflector at night.

(a)(3)  White or yellow side reflector at night.

Section 21228

           Ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb.

Section 21229

(a)       Shall ride in the bicycle lane if available.

(b)       Do not exit the bicycle lane until safe to do so.

Section 21235

(a)       Brake required.

(b)       Scooter shall be operated in the bicycle lane when

           speed limit is at least 25 mph.

(c)       Bicycle helmet required and meets the safety     

           standards outlined in Section 21212 CVC.

(d)       Valid driver's license or instruction permit required

           to operate a motorized scooter.

(e)       No passengers.

(f)       No Carrying a package preventing the operator from

           placing at least one hand on the handlebars.

(g)      No riding on the sidewalk.

(h)    Handlebars should not be above the level of the     

         shoulders.

(i)     No leaving a scooter in a position on the sidewalk that

        prevents adequate space for pedestrians.

(j)      Hitching a ride on other vehicles while on the highway.

Per section 21224 CVC, motorized scooters are exempt from insurance, registration and license plate requirements. The impoundment of scooters is not authorized for CVC violations.

Riding a motorized scooter while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and operators are subject to arrest under Section 21221.5 CVC

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