SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio appears to be on the road to new rules regarding dockless scooters. A couple of weeks from now, city council will consider a proposal that just came up at a transportation committee meeting Monday.
Flitting around the downtown area with her husband, Shawn, Kara Winters said the scooters are a big advantage. "We’re able to park in one place and now we can scooter to different tourist spots that we want to go check out and it’s been nice!" Winters said.
The Colorado visitors are not alone. Scooters have fans in San Antonio, with 1.85 million rides since they launched almost one year ago.
Admitting that their mid-day Tuesday ride did not come at a peak time, Winters said she felt completely safe on a scooter.
“Safety is always a good thing, but we've felt safe this whole time. We haven't had any close calls with people or anything,” Winters said.
But scooter riders can strike fear in the hearts of vulnerable pedestrians.
John Colon said his wife uses a cane and she was surprised and frightened when she rounded a downtown corner and came face to face with a large group of fast-moving scooter users as they were leaving the Alamo.
Colon said “About 10 to 12 scooters came by and flew in front of us. Had she walked out one step quicker, she'd have been hit.”
Colon said he and his friends were visiting from out of state and they do not have scooters at home, so learning to deal with the onslaught has been an issue.
John Jacks, who heads the Center City office said “Our biggest concern is protecting the sidewalks for pedestrian safety, particularly those with disabilities.”
The Center City office has been working on new rules to provide the best level of service, safely. They are suggesting cutting the number of vendors who are allowed to operate on city streets from seven to three and limiting to number of scooters to 5,000.
“On average, we're seeing about 6,500 vehicles deployed daily," Jacks said. "That number has actually come down a little bit. That was the high number in December. In March, we were at about 4,500 vehicles.”
Jacks said the scooter companies have been adjusting their supplies to meet demands.
“They are starting to reduce the number of vehicles because the companies don't really want vehicles out there that aren't being used and we think our recommendation of 5,000 vehicles is closer to what is actually being deployed on a daily basis,” Jacks said.
Jacks said since the scooters launched, there have only been 144 accidents with injuries reported to 911. Jacks said the number of accidents is probably higher, but it does not include people who may have been injured and went for medical care on their own.
Jacks said no matter how the rules change, public education will continue to be important. He said the providers need to teach users about safety and perhaps offer incentives to behave safely.
District One City Council Representative Roberto Trevino said "We are not looking at our infrastructure holistically. We need to be thinking about the way we move people, whether it's cars, in bikes or on sidewalks.”
Trevino said he is glad to see the city working collaboratively with scooter vendors to develop best management practices.
“We're going to do a request for proposals. It's known as an RFP, which means that we're going to be in partnership with scooter companies here in San Antonio, and we can work with them on what our needs are,” Trevino said.
Trevino said the addition of a pedestrian mobility officer was a good move as well, because someone will be focused on choices.
“We need to make sure that we're not blocking out good opportunities for folks to get around, to find their transportation of choice,” Trevino said.
If the city council moves forward with the plan, the contract would be hashed out during the summer.
The proposed launch date would be October 1st. More information about the process can be found here: https://www.sanantonio.gov/CCDO/DocklessVehicles