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L.A. Councilmember Koretz Calls E-Scooters “Anti-Vision Zero,” Pushes to Get Rid of Them

12:17 PM PDT on June 13, 2019

Photo: Nathan Rupert/Flickr/CC

This afternoon, the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee discussed e-scooters. Scooters are the most prominent component of the city's Dockless Bike / Scooter Share Pilot Program. Though the hearing did not alter the city's current shared mobility pilot program underway, it did shed some light on how the program is going and how councilmembers stand on e-scooter issues.

L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz made his views very clear, stating that his goal is "to get rid of these" e-scooters.

He termed e-scooters "anti-Vision Zero" due to his perception that they cause injuries. There are a few double standards at play here. Injuries caused by drivers/cars are orders of magnitude greater than those caused by riders/e-scooters. Additionally, many injuries to e-scooter riders are the fault of drivers. Note that Koretz has opposed L.A. City Vision Zero measures, so one might expect him to be in support of something that is anti-Vision Zero... but not when it comes to e-scooters.

Koretz stated that he sees "no safe place" for e-scooters. In Koretz formulation: E-scooter riding on the sidewalk is unsafe for pedestrians. E-scooters in the street are unsafe for the rider. The only place to e-scooter might be in bike lanes, which Koretz expressed would take a long time before there are enough of to be useful. Many SBLA readers will recall Koretz killing plans for Westwood bike lanes, though he has supported a few bike facilities. In Koretz' logic, L.A. streets are just too dangerous and can only remain so, hence everyone should drive everywhere. (Koretz considers himself a climate champion, but takes car emissions for granted.)

Koretz authored a motion to get shared mobility companies to better cooperate with law enforcement. Koretz is proposing that scooter companies essentially automatically turn over user information, with privacy concerns mooted by users clicking to approve terms of use. According to the City Attorney and LADOT, under state law (governing car rentals) law enforcement needs to get a warrant for user data. Koretz settled for approving a recommendation from committee chair Councilmember Mike Bonin that companies adhere to best practices for responding to law enforcement warrants.

Councilmember Nury Martinez continues to push for shared mobility companies to serve a broader range of communities. Shared e-scooters and e-bikes continue to be much more concentrated in higher-income Westside neighborhoods and scarce in lower income communities of color including Martinez' San Fernando Valley district.

Councilmember Bonin's most prominent concern is the flip side of Martinez'. Bonin observed that some communities, including Venice, experience "over-saturation" with many companies leaving many e-scooters "on every corner." Bonin expressed that shared mobility companies are "not living up to expectations" and need to "step up" to resolve issues.

The committee had agendized a motion by Councilmember Gil Cedillo to exclude his Council District 1 from the city's current scooter-share/bike-share pilot. This motion was continued/postponed. During public comment, several CD1 residents spoke with many supportive of and others opposed to Cedillo's proposed ban.

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