How Santa Monica Established Order From Scooter Chaos

In September 2017, Santa Monica became ground zero for a disruptive force that’s been hailed as both the future of mobility and “the herpes of urban transit“: dockless electric scooters.

Bird was the first company to start dropping hundreds of scooters in the tourist-rich beach city. Lime soon followed, and the companies’ scoot first, regulate later approach quickly spiraled into chaos as Santa Monica leaders scrambled to put rules in place.

But while they rushed to restore order in the streets, city officials also recognized scooters’ potential as a better mobility option in car-congested Southern California.

“Like everywhere else in Southern California, the highest percentage of trips are under two miles… there are lots of other ways to get around,” said Francie Stefan, acting chief mobility officer and assistant director of planning for the city of Santa Monica. “That was sort of the mindset… we don’t know, but we won’t know if we don’t try.”

And scooters were a way to try.