(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

Lodi.

“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

travel.

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

vandalize.

“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

aide.

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

knee.

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.”

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