Electric scooters have appeared across Tracy as a company introduced the “shared micro-mobility” e-scooters last week.
A news release from the city said Bird, a company that has electric scooters for rent to reduce car usage, traffic and carbon emissions, began distributing more than 30 of the e-scooters around Tracy on Oct. 13.
The e-scooters are rented through a smart phone app that can locate the nearest e-scooter, costing 39 cents per minutes to ride along with a $1 unlock fee and applicable taxes. A rider must agree to a rental agreement that includes a waiver of liability and release.
Staff from Bird, called “flyers” collect, move, charge and sanitize the e-scooters and then place them in central locations every day. The city has no involvement in their distribution, maintenance or sanitation.
Currently the city doesn’t have a policy governing the use of shared mobility devices or vehicles in Tracy.
Ed Lovell, a management analyst with the city, said in mid-September Gov. Gavin Newsom signed State Assembly Bill 1286, which takes effect in January and requires a shared mobility provider to enter in to an agreement or obtain a permit from the city or county they are operating in.
Lovell said the city is working on creating a policy to cover the operation, parking and maintenance of shared mobility devices including the Bird e-scooters. He couldn’t say yet whether it would take the form of a permit, an ordinance or a combination of both, but it would come before the city council.
The city hopes to have the policy in place as close to January ̶ when the state assembly bill takes effect ̶ as possible.
Even though the Bird scooters arrived in Tracy before the bill takes effect, the bill will still require them to comply with whatever policy the city enacts. Lovell said the company did obtain a business license to operate in city limits.
“We are grateful to work with the City of Tracy to support their residents in getting around safely and sustainably in the new normal,” read a statement released by Bird this week. “Now more than ever, people need open-air and socially-distant transportation. Tracy is a great city for micromobility and we look forward to offering residents access to Birds to shop at local businesses, commute, or just get outside."
The company went on to explain that e-scooter riders must follow traffic laws as outlined in the California Vehicle Code, subject to police enforcement, including:
n Riders must carry a valid driver’s license or a provisional instruction permit
n Riders under 18 have to wear a helmet
n Riding is only permitted in bike lanes if the road speed is more than 25 mph
n Scooters are prohibited on streets with a speed limit higher than 25 mph without a bike lane available.
n Riding on sidewalks is prohibited.
n Riders must obey all traffic laws including yield to pedestrians.
n No passengers are allowed on the scooters.
n Riders operating a scooter have all the rights and are subject to all the provisions of a driver of a motor vehicle including provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The company also requests that riders park scooters in a safe location out of the public right-of-way and not on private property.
Since the e-scooters were placed in the city Tracy Police Department logs showed three calls for service, one for seven scooters left on a residential street, a second call for an e-scooter tracked to a homeless encampment and asking for help locating it and a third for a scooter rider that crashed into a bicyclist injuring her ankle and then fled the scene.
If a resident has questions or concerns about the e-scooters the Bird company can be reached at 1-866-205-2442 or email@example.com.
Poorly parked or damaged Bird e-scooters can be reported through the Bird app.
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