(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct statements made by local property owner Dave Kirsten in last Saturday’s print edition of the News-Sentinel.)
Downtown Lodi is not large enough to accommodate electric scooters.
That was the sentiment expressed by residents, business owners and
three members of the Lodi City Council Wednesday night when staff
asked the latter if it should explore the viability of the vehicles in
“E-scooters do provide convenient use, especially in larger cities,”
local property owner David Kirsten said in an email read by City Clerk
Jennifer Cusmir during the meeting.
“Under some circumstances, they can transport users 60 city blocks,
which is no doubt an issue in popular city centers,” he said. “Lodi’s
downtown is only six blocks and they would serve no useful purpose. In
my opinion, e-scooters will not be the future of microbility.
Increasingly fed-up residents in other communities have started to
push back on these scooters. The debate has become more intense, and
some cities have concluded the benefits are far outweighed by the
problems they have caused.”
Those problems, Kirsten said, included scooters being abandoned
throughout the cities in which they’ve been introduced; riders
ignoring local traffic laws and tying up traffic by riding in streets;
as well as over-burdening local police departments.
He added that in many cities, the scooters are used for entertainment
by users who may have been drinking, rather than transporting them
through busy city centers as they were intended to do.
Electric scooters and bicycles have become more popular in cities
across the country, and companies such as Lime and Bird have
contracted with several agencies to encourage alternate options for
The Santa Monica-based Bird has launched fleets of electric scooters
in cities around the world, and can be found in local areas such as
San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento. Their scooters are also
available in Los Angeles, San Diego and Bend, Ore.
San Mateo-based Lime has launched electric scooter fleets at the
University of North Carolina in Greensboro, as well as in Biscayne,
Fla., South Bend, Ind., South Lake Tahoe and Seattle.
Resident Kyle Jasperson said other cities that have implemented
electric scooter programs are large enough that they need the
alternative mode of transportation
“In every city that has them, you’ll see that riders frequently
abandon them wherever they see fit — in the middle of sidewalks,
partially in streets, in front of houses, businesses,” Kyle Jasperson
wrote in a letter read by the city clerk.
“They are also dangerous for the riders,” he wrote. “Some of these
scooters travel faster than residential speed limits of 30 miles an
hour, and virtually no one wears helmets because they don’t come with
them. It’s not like people are walking around with helmets.”
David Claxton, president of the Downtown Business Alliance board of
directors, wrote in his letter that as a business owner, he was
surprised the city was considering allowing the scooters downtown.
He said the scooters would clutter sidewalks and alleys, cause safety
issues, and only give the city’s homeless population something else to
“Given the number of winebars and tasting rooms downtown, this mode of
mobility will cause other issues,” he wrote. “Scooters may be
appropriate in larger cities where there is a workforce that uses them
for moving about a powerful city. But to use them in our small
downtown area will take away from the character and charm that
attracts folks to towns like Lodi.”
Council member Mikey Hothi requested the electric scooter discussion
be placed on Wednesday’s agenda, and said he tried to bring the idea
to the council in 2019.
Addressing speed and safety concerns brought up by the community, he
said most cities can use an app provided by the scooter companies that
limit speeds to 15 miles an hour, as well as ensure that speeds are
reduced to as low as 5 miles an hour in certain areas of town.
The apps can also turn the scooters off in certain locations, such as
the Capitol Corridor in Sacramento, where he worked as an assembly
Hothi acknowledged that when the scooters were first introduced in
Sacramento, many users rode them on sidewalks. But, he said, local
police educated riders about the rules of the road. In recent months,
officers are now enforcing stricter rules on sidewalk riders, such as
issuing tickets, he said.
“There is a lot to this conversation,” Hothi said. “All I’m asking is
that we engage with some of these (companies), whether it’s Jump or
Lime or Spin, and allow them to do a presentation so we can have some
of these questions answered.”
Councilman Shak Khan agreed, and noted that he has seen several
residents already using the scooters in his district.
“All the small cities are using them, and I think its a good
investment as well,” he said. “I don’t know how much it will affect
our traffic rules, we’ve got to look at that. People are already doing
it. I think we should look into it, have a company come out and at
least do a presentation and go over the positive and negatives.”
The rest of the council disagreed.
Councilman Doug Kuehne presented a July 14 newspaper article from the
Washington Post with the headline “Death of the sidewalk,” that
described how electric scooters were appearing in large metropolitan
areas across the country, clogging sidewalks, causing injuries and
being strewn in the middle of crosswalks.
“It was a bad idea back then, and I think it’s a bad idea now,” Kuehne
said. “Our downtown area is six blocks. If they ride in the street,
it’s already a choke point with our parking the way it is. If they
ride on the sidewalks, which are wide, it will be the death of the
sidewalk. When I think about Downtown Lodi, I think about tourism,
people walking out of wineries and restaurants. Trying to dodge
scooters just doesn’t sound like fun to me. I don’t think Lodi has
evolved to that point.”
In the Post article Kuehne referenced, it was reported a 75-year-old
man tripped over an abandoned scooter in San Diego and shattered his
A 7-year-old boy had his teeth knocked out by a scooter rider near Los
Angeles, and a 44-year-old woman was struck by a Bird scooter in a
Cincinnati, Ohio intersection, the article stated.
The ongoing complaints of sidewalk use, abandoned scooters and
injuries have caused some cities like Milwaukee to halt rentals,
according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“I don’t want to see any of our resources diverted from what they are
now (for),” Vice Mayor Mark Chandler said. “I get complaints about
public works and community development not getting their work done
accurately, or not communicating with people. I don’t want to burden
the police department with extra enforcement. I don’t want staff
spending any time on it. I also know that industry needs to mature and
clean up its act. Because those things are littered all over towns
like garbage. So we don’t need that problem.”