Lime Scooters

KCBS Radio/Holly Quan

Oakland Goes All In For E-Scooters

Holly Quan
July 03, 2019 - 10:26 am

OAKLAND (KCBS Radio) - E-scooters from Bird and Lime are all over Oakland, especially downtown and near BART stations. Now, new scooters from San Francisco-based Lyft and L.A.'s Clevr will join the existing operators on Oakland's streets, and for the first time, they'll all have official permits from the city.

Together the companies will operate a total of 3,500 scooters, with the potential to roll out more. 

The green light from Oakland's Department of Transportation comes as officials realize the e-scooters inflict less damage to the environment and the city's infrastructure than passenger cars. 

"We estimate that as many as four out of every 10 scooter trips would have been taken in a motor vehicle, either a personal car or with a ride-hailing company, and that means if there is less driving, there are less potholes to fill, for example," said Ryan Russo, the Department of Transportation's director. 

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There is less vandalism now targeting the scooters, and fewer people using them for joyrides than when they first appeared in Oakland, Russo said.

But the city has drawn up strict rules governing these companies requiring them to keep a tight rein on their scooters. For instance, they'll have to fish them out of Lake Merritt if they get tossed in. 

So who's using the scooters? Russo's answer: Just about everyone. 

"Construction workers ... in our downtown," Russo said. "We saw young folks of color getting to their jobs, or getting to school. We saw people enjoying themselves while getting somewhere," said Russo.