Sep 28, 2022 - News

Scooter companies restrict parking in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood

Spin scooter parked

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Electric scooter companies Bird, Lime and Spin are restricting riders from parking their two-wheelers in parts of the Tenderloin, the San Francisco Business Times first reported.

Why it matters: The Tenderloin is a racially diverse and economically vulnerable part of the city. Restricting parking directly impacts its community members.

By the numbers: Between January and Sept. 25, there have been 1,267 larceny thefts — a category that includes electric scooter thefts — in the Tenderloin, per the city's police department.

  • That's an increase of 49.9% from the same time frame last year.

What they're saying: While Lime wants to ensure San Francisco residents have "equitable access" to its fleet, a company spokesperson said in an email to Axios, it's created no-parking zones in the Tenderloin "due to serious and ongoing concerns regarding theft and vandalism."

  • "We want to be clear that we are still allowing riders to travel through these zones and we hope to work with the city to solve these issues and lift the no parking zone in the future," the spokesperson said. 
  • Spin says it encourages parking along blocks of Polk and Market Streets in the Tenderloin, and that the scooter company is working with the police department "to address theft and vandalism in other corridors of the Tenderloin."
  • Bird did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

Flashback: Electric scooters first hit the streets of San Francisco in 2018 without permits, leading the city attorney to issue cease-and-desist orders to Bird, Lime and Spin.

  • Since then, the Municipal Transportation Agency has implemented a shared scooter program to regulate these companies. It currently permits Lime, Bird and Spin to operate in the city.  

Between the lines: As part of the shared scooter program, companies are required by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to install geofencing technology to prevent people from riding scooters on sidewalks.

  • Earlier this month, five city supervisors introduced a resolution to urge the city's Municipal Transportation Agency to revoke permits from electric scooter companies that don't install deterrents to keep people from riding on sidewalks.

What we're watching: When scooter companies will re-allow parking in all parts of the Tenderloin. 

  • In a statement to Axios, a spokesperson for the SFMTA said "it has not implemented any shared scooter prohibited parking restriction[s] for any block faces in the Tenderloin neighborhood," but that scooter companies are allowed to implement their own parking restrictions.
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