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The West Hollywood City Council reportedly voted 5-0 to overturn the e-scooter ban. Three pilot operators should be able to operate very soon in the city. This decision will also impact dockless bikes. West Hollywood had gone without a bike share program or any mobility devices within its borders since early 2019. With this decision, Beverly Hills is the Westside’s lone e-scooter desert.
In a memo to the City Council from this past summer, City Hall reportedly recommended the City Council authorize a pilot program that would include electric scooters and low-speed throttle assist bicycles from up to three vendors. It noted that the use of scooters and electric bikes “reduces greenhouse gas emissions that otherwise results from vehicle travel, helping the city achieve our Climate Action Plan Goals.” The article the memo was cited on noted how the City of West Hollywood has installed several new electric charging stations in an effort to encourage drivers to use electric vehicles, but had been reluctant to implement measures used in other cities that restrict traffic flow or reduce the availability of parking.
When the City’s ban on e-scooters was placed, several young WeHo residents reportedly argued that riding short distances on electric scooters rather than in cars was environmentally friendly, helped them avoid problems with traffic, and parking and is part of the future of transportation. Councilmember John D’Amico, a supporter of the electric scooters, noted at the time the age gap between the supporters of e-scooters and their opponents. “This is the first time this many people under 35 have shown up for anything,” he said of the number of scooter system supporters in the Council Chambers.
Via Twitter, West Hollywood City Councilmember Dr. John Erickson expressed his excitement over the decision by writing, “Yes, we did!” referring to overturning the ban.
Council members that supported a ban two years ago had noted the risks that the unlicensed vehicles posed for people walking on the city’s sidewalks and the risks to scooter drivers who don’t wear the helmets required by law. However, it’s safe to say that the coronavirus pandemic and the changes it brought with it impacted how people move around their cities.
Along with their popularity in the U.S., electric scooter injuries have reportedly surged, seeing 4,583 injuries in 2014. By 2018, the number of injuries had surged to 14,641— a nearly triple increase. Moreover, people in the 18 to 34 age group are the most likely to sustain e-scooter injuries. Hospital admissions in this age group reportedly skyrocketed by 354% between 2014 and 2018.
According to a UCLA study from 2019, standing electric scooters were associated with 249 emergency room visits between September 2017 and the end of August 2018 in two Los Angeles hospitals. The reported injuries included dislocations, bone fractures, lung contusions, soft-tissue injuries, and a splenic laceration. Most victims were riders who had fallen, crashed with an object, or were struck by a vehicle. Pedestrian accidents who crashed with scooters, tripped over them, or were attempting to lift them accounted for 8.4% of injuries. Fortunately, none of the injuries were fatal, but two patients were sent to the intensive care unit.