Long Beach could allow e-scooters on beach bike path under new pilot program

Electric scooters have been banned from use on the bike path for years but a new 12-month program would assess if long-term access for scooters is viable.

Long Beach could allow e-scooters on beach bike path under new pilot program
People walk and ride along the beach path near Bay Shore Avenue, east of Rosie's Dog Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

You may be able to ride electric scooters on the beach bike path in Long Beach soon. The City Council is ready to approve a pilot program that would temporarily lift the ban on scooter operations along the beach for the next 12 months.

Council members asked in April for the city’s Public Works Department, which manages the city’s micro-mobility program, to assess whether scooters could safely operate on the bike path.

The city could allow scooters back onto the path in the coming weeks but with some restrictions like the use of “slow zones” along the path and a requirement that scooter riders not use the pedestrian walking path that runs alongside the bike path.

Currently, Bird, Lime and VeoRide are licensed to operate in the city.

The city has seen an average of 22 e-scooter crashes per year, with two of them being fatal, according to a memo released by the city last week. But none of those incidents have happened on the beach path, where scooters have been banned since shortly after e-scooter companies entered the city.

In a letter to the council, Councilmember Cindy Allen, who asked for the study in April, said that since the bike path is a major attraction for residents and tourists, allowing scooters to operate on the bike path could let more people visit the beach and people travel through the city safely.

Jason Ruiz has been on strike from the Long Beach Post since March 21, yet he’s still covering city hall without pay. Thank him for his reporting.

Scooters have been effectively kept off the path for years because of early complaints that they were being abandoned along the path, causing hazards. There were also complaints that people riding them were creating dangerous conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

The city required companies operating in the city to use “geofencing” to block them from use on the path, with the geofence throttling down scooters or not allowing users to end rides in prohibited areas.

The memo published by the city last week points to improvements in the technology that the industry has developed since 2018 that would allow for limiting speeds.

Operators who wish to continue using the beach bike path will be assessed on their ability to ensure scooters are being parked in appropriate areas, how well they can deploy scooters without the use of a car and whether allowing scooters back onto the path creates conflicts with other pedestrians.

The Public Works director would have the authority to terminate the pilot program before the 12 months are up if public safety or vendor-related issues crop up, according to the memo.

The City Council is expected to vote on the proposed pilot program at its June 18 meeting.

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