Santa Rosa is taking its first steps toward an electric scooter system
In 2021, Santa Rosa is likely to join those cities that have already rented out fleets of electric scooters to residents and tourists looking for another way to get around.
The city Council told workers Tuesday to develop a pilot program that, if approved next year, would clear the way for the type of scooters that have become common in major U.S. cities in recent years.
City hall supporters see scooters as another way of expanding downtown and increasing transportation options that don't require massive infrastructure or fossil fuels.
But city officials acknowledge that it could take up to a year for private operators to develop a permit process to provide scooters locally. Could a city the size of Santa Rosa be able to support a network of scooters even when tourists are coming in droves?
Former downtown business owner John Sawyer says a scooter cruise could be a good way to explore the city. But he said scooters can cause problems for people with disabilities, while other barriers associated with the scooter network can weigh heavily on people.
Today, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have provided a clearer barrier to the rollout of scooters, and these days, the high-contact public equipment is either outdoors or undergoing deep cleaning on a daily basis. Instead, scooter networks are designed to provide little supervision or intervention between different users.
But scooter operators such as Lime, based in San Francisco, maintain their networks by regularly disinfecting them during the pandemic. The operators also stressed that cyclists travelling outdoors have greater social distance and less exposure to coronavirus than traditional transit or bus travel.
Electric scooters typically reach a maximum speed of 15 MPH and rely on manually operated throttle and brake.Given that the city is in no hurry to ride the bandwagon, any conflict with the pandemic is likely to be a contentious issue.
Santa Rosa's scooter dream fits with a long-running regional separation effort to add electric bikes near several rail transit stations in the Sonoma-Marin Area, including the railroad plaza and the Coddingtown shopping center.
Sonoma County Transportation Authority executive director Suzanne Smith (Suzanne Smith), said the effort to get the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (Sonoma County Transportation Authority), the administration of hope in the next year allowed under the condition of big heat, electric bicycle plan began to heat up in the year before, as soon as possible with the cities "detailed planning work.
"While we hope the impact of the pandemic will be mitigated, our schedule will be to introduce bikes in the summer," Smith said. "But assessing how it affects the program is challenging."
Councilman Chris Rogers said that if all goes well, Santa Rosa could introduce a plan for electric scooters after a pandemic.Mr. Rogers, a SMART board member, mentioned scooters as a possible solution to what he called the "first and last mile problem" in public transportation: if more people had a chance to arrive or leave, more people would take trains and buses from transportation hubs. Any launch timing is key to winning commuters, Mr. Rogers said, in order to "catch them as quickly as possible and then get back on the commuter train."