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San Francisco proposes rules to fight its electric scooter epidemic

Companies would limit scooter counts and provide legal warnings.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

San Francisco officials have been promising rules to curb the invasion of electric scooters, and now we have an idea of what those rules could be. The Municipal Transportation Agency has proposed a two-year permitting test program that would limit the city to five e-scooter permits, and no more than 500 scooters for each permit. In other words, there would be no more than 2,500 scooters in San Francisco at any one time -- a blessing to residents who are practically tripping over the two-wheelers. Companies would have to abide by guidelines to keep those permits, too.

They'd most notably have to remind customers to wear helmets, drive on the street and park in ways that won't impede traffic. Scooters could only operate in service areas they submit for approval. And on top of fees ($5,000 to start, $25,000 per year), they'd have to pay $10,000 into a maintenance fund to cover both the storage of improperly parked scooters and public property damage. Firms would need to provide a plan for low-income users as well.

A pending bill in California's legislature might ditch the helmet and no-sidewalk requirements, but these changes wouldn't likely force changes to the pilot program until sometime in 2019.

The MTA's board is expected to hold public hearings on the permit process beginning May 1st. This move wouldn't necessarily force major changes (many companies already provide some warnings about requirements), but it would set firm limits on scooter service operators that have so far had the run of the town.

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