City of Lodi staff will ask the city council this week if it should research the viability of bringing electric scooters to Downtown Lodi.
During the discussion, which will be the last during Wednesday’s Lodi City Council meeting, city leaders will provide feedback and direction to staff to determine if investing time and exploring the pros and cons of electric scooters is warranted.
According to the staff report on the item, staffing resources are currently limited.
David Claxton, president of the Downtown Business Alliance board of directors, said while the group has heard rumblings that the council might consider scooters downtown, it didn’t have enough information to support or oppose the idea.
Speaking as an individual business owner though, he said having scooters available to rent and use in Downtown Lodi made no sense.
“Scooters in downtown are completely inappropriate and are out of character with the type of downtown ambiance and character that our primary customers — tourists — are looking for,” he said.
“They are trying to escape from urban areas where they have to deal with trash, scooters and homeless individuals,” he added. “If we had scooters downtown, it would be no different for visitors.”
City staff said 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.
According to its website, the Santa Monica-based Bird was founded in 2018 and has launched fleets of electric scooters in cities around the world, including San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento.
It has also provided the units to cities such as Portland and Bend, Ore., Reno, Los Angeles and San Diego. The company is scheduled to launch its first flee of e-bicycles in San Diego at the end of this month, according to reports.
San Mateo-based Lime was founded in 2017, launching its first fleet of 125 e-bicycles at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. It has since expanded to Key Biscayne Fla., South Bend, Ind., South Lake Tahoe and Seattle.
Lodi city staff said in Wednesday’s agenda report that while the idea of electric scooters seems fun and a convenient way to travel, they also come with concerns over public safety, liability and overall impact to a city’s downtown.
According to a Sept. 29, 2019 Washington Post article, a woman in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. was placed in a vegetative state after a collision with a car while riding a Lime scooter on the road, not the sidewalk as legally permitted.
The injured woman was allegedly instructed to use the road by the company’s app, according to the article.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that same year that the city was halting scooter rentals because of complaints that people were riding scooters on sidewalks.
“None of the smaller, quaint, touristy towns like us have scooters,” Claxton said. “I would much rather prefer the city expend efforts on dealing with the homeless issues Downtown and getting the area cleaned.”
And the council will be tackling the homeless issue Wednesday night as well, as it is scheduled to discuss the proposed access center and choose its location.
Options are 710 N. Sacramento St., a piece of city-owned surplus property on Century Boulevard near Salas Park, and a piece of city-owned property near Auto Center Road and Pixley Parkway.
The council will also discuss whether to continue conducting meetings virtually in the future, or return to in-person sessions.
Wednesday’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. and can be viewed online at www.facebook.com/CityofLodi.