Scoot vehicles cruise through legal loophole

By : sfexminer – excerpt

We Scooped the Scoot story a while ago.

This week’s question comes from James in the Sunset, who asks:

Q: “My girlfriend has a Vespa, and we want to go riding together. I have seen these Scoot vehicles riding all over town. I looked online and have some questions about renting one of these things. I don’t have a motorcycle license and don’t have motorcycle insurance. I have zero experience riding a motorcycle or scooter. I also weigh 265 pounds. What happens if I rent one of these things and get into an accident or if it gets knocked over by someone? What are my rights and responsibilities?”

A: James, thanks for raising this question. You have caused me to learn more about Scoot, and some of what I read has me concerned. First, for the uninformed, Scoot is in the business of short-term rental of electric scooters. Scoot offers two models: the Scoot, with a small cargo box, and the Cargo, with a 90-liter cargo box that they say has enough space to fit six six-packs, four pizzas or 30 pints of ice cream…

Scoot’s vehicles apparently fall under the definition of a “motorized scooter” under California Vehicle Code, which defines a motorized scooter as any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding and powered by an electric motor that cannot achieve speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion…

Scoot membership does not require a motorcycle license. The DMV website states that while motorized scooters do not require a motorcycle license, motor-driven cycles — those powered by an engine 149 cc or less; think Vespa — do. Given its style and design, Scoot resembles a motor-driven cycle more than a motor scooter. But apparently because it is electric and has a floorboard big enough to stand on, they are apparently riding through this loophole…

As Scoot members do not have to have a motorcycle license, they do not have to demonstrate an ability to ride a scooter before taking one of these cute little potential death traps out for a spin. A new member must either do an in-person tutorial or watch an online 20-minute instructional video. To me, a video is inadequate training, which I think creates some liability for Scoot. I can assure you that if you are injured by the fault of another riding a Scoot, the defense will be that you had inadequate knowledge of how to operate one…

Scoot’s vehicles apparently fall under the definition of a “motorized scooter” under California Vehicle Code, which defines a motorized scooter as any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding and powered by an electric motor that cannot achieve speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion.

According to its website, Scoot membership does not require a motorcycle license. The DMV website states that while motorized scooters do not require a motorcycle license, motor-driven cycles — those powered by an engine 149 cc or less; think Vespa — do. Given its style and design, Scoot resembles a motor-driven cycle more than a motor scooter. But apparently because it is electric and has a floorboard big enough to stand on, they are apparently riding through this loophole.

As Scoot members do not have to have a motorcycle license, they do not have to demonstrate an ability to ride a scooter before taking one of these cute little potential death traps out for a spin. A new member must either do an in-person tutorial or watch an online 20-minute instructional video. To me, a video is inadequate training, which I think creates some liability for Scoot. I can assure you that if you are injured by the fault of another riding a Scoot, the defense will be that you had inadequate knowledge of how to operate one.

As someone who rode minibikes, scooters, mopeds and eventually motorcycles for 40 years, I can tell you that operating a two-wheeled vehicle is much more precarious than one with four wheels. I recommend that anyone who wants to ride a motorized two-wheel vehicle take an approved motorcycle rider safety course…(more)

Thanks for some legal clarification. We haven’t seen many of these around. These two were parked on 17th Street near Potrero and one was parked on 17th near the 280 overpass. They appear to be popular with people living in or near homeless encampments. Are people who don’t own two-wheeled vehicles expected to purchase or rent a helmet?

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SF ambulances arrive late to life-threatening calls during sweltering weekend heat

By and : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco was so short on ambulances during the record-setting heat last weekend that it took about an hour for them to respond to some life-threatening calls, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

San Francisco Fire Department records obtained by the Examiner show that fire engines waited more than 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of 28 life-threatening calls. The goal is for an ambulance to arrive at a life-threatening emergency within 10 minutes 90 percent of the time…

Supervisor Aaron Peskin called the response times “entirely unacceptable.”

“The city and county of San Francisco was caught flat-footed,” he said.

Peskin said he will continue to push for San Francisco to improve its emergency response times at upcoming hearings.

“If we can’t get a heat wave right, we are in big trouble,” Peskin said, alluding to the potential for a major earthquake shaking The City… (more)

People have been warning about ambulances stuck in traffic for a long time. Maybe now something will done to move traffic instead of stall it. Other cities are doing a better job according to the PBS story linked below. In Pittsburgh they are using actual traffic flow to control the traffic signals.

At any rate, we understand that there is a state agency that may step in if the situation does not improve. We expect the SF Department of Emergency Management will be concerned about these matters.

How Pittsburgh is test driving tech to make your commute smarter

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/pittsburgh-test-driving-tech-make-commute-smarter/

 

 

Love Citi Bike? You Have A Real Estate Developer To Thank

By Sarah Kessler : fastcompany – excerpt

17thArkansas

Citigroup sponsors Citi Bike, but its existence and expansion are due to a powerful real estate developer’s interest in keeping it alive.

This article was posted January 12, 2016 by Fastcompany, and became the catalyst for some investigations into Ford GoBikes, that are popping up like unwanted pimples all over our streets. Oddly we heard about the Scoots deal at a surprise SFMTA Board meeting, but, the GoBikes arrived without warning and are, so far, much more prevalent and annoying than the station-less Scoots. Read this article to see where our story started. We are working on some of the details, that, it appears the SFMAT staff and director are not quite clear on and were unable to answer at today’s SFMTA September 5 Board meeting. Although to be fair, the transmission from City Hall was not good so it was hard to follow the live events. We will post a link when it comes up.

It would be a logical guess to believe that financial giant Citigroup owns New York City’s bike sharing system. It is, after all, called “Citi Bike,” and every Citigroup-blue bike is plastered with the bank’s branding.

But the company—which has a $111.5 million sponsorship commitment to the program—does not own it. Navigate to the Citi Bike website, and you’ll see that “Citi Bike is operated by NYC Bike Share LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Motivate,” and that “Motivate is a unique company focused solely on operating large-scale bike-share systems.”

This might look like an answer. But NYC Bike Share LLC is actually just the first in a nesting doll of nomenclature that—intentionally or not—obscures a brilliant business move by one of the country’s largest real estate investors… (more)

But why?

Bike sharing systems carry with them the promise of more sustainable, accessible cities and healthier city residents. But perhaps more compelling to the CEO of a real estate company is the possibility that they will raise property values. These aren’t necessarily competing motives. “As cities do well,” Related CEO Jeff Blau told Fast Company, “we do well.”… (more)

 

 

Oak and Van Ness project shows stunning failures in city traffic analysis

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

The San Francisco supes will vote September 5 on the future of one of the city’s most critical intersections, Market and Van Ness — and the decision will impact tens of thousands of bike riders, Muni riders. and pedestrians who pass through the crowded, windy corner every day…

…based on the information currently available it is currently difficult, if not impossible, to document how transportation network company operations quantitatively influence overall travel conditions in San Francisco or elsewhere. Thus, for the above reasons, the effects of for-hire vehicles as it relates to transportation network companies on VMT is not currently estimated…

The city used very old data and inaccurate models in analyzing the transportation impacts, Henderson notes. The EIR notes that it bases traffic demand models on 1990 census data — and that the city plans to update its transportation planning protocols in 2018.

But this is 2017, and we are relying for an analysis of transportation impacts data from when San Francisco was a very different city. The One Oak transportation study “used 1990 data [that] does not reflect two tech booms and the internet economy to the south of the city,” the appeal notes.

In fact, since 1990:

* The Central Freeway was removed in 2003
* Private commuter buses have proliferated since 2005
* Uber and Lyft have proliferated since 2011
* The City has adopted a new Bicycle Plan in 2009
* The City adopted Vision Zero goals in 2014
* New patterns of e-commerce delivery have emerged instead of storefront retail
* Mid-Market and Market and Octavia have added housing for thousands of new   residents
* 5,469 new parking spaces have been, or might be built in the Hub [surrounding the Oak and Market area]… (more)

At least they are being consistent in their use of old data to both remove and add parking when they choose to do so. Complaints about old data are as prevalent as complaints about lack of notice. Both point to a failed system that many citizens are fed up with and may act against next time they get the chance at the ballot box.

 

Ford GoBike (Bay Area Bikeshare) Update

Potrero Boosters August Meeting agenda includes this issue:

In Boston, it’s Hubway, sponsored by New Balance; in Portland, the Nike Biketown. Chicago has the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Divvy, and New York has the CitiBike. And now the Potrero has Ford GoBike, an expansion of the newly rebranded Bay Area Bike Share. Bike pods have appeared at 16th and San Bruno, in front of Whole Foods, at the Arkansas and 17th corner of Jackson Park, at Mississippi and 17th, and at the 19th and Minnesota corner of Esprit. They’ll soon be at the 22nd Street Caltrain Station.


The recent expansion has not been without controversy. Further expansion plans promise additional pods in the southern parts of Potrero Hill and Dogpatch, extending into Bayview.

Justin Nguyen, the Outreach/Marketing Coordinator of Motivate, the company operating the Ford GoBike (and the other cities’ bikeshares mentioned above), will respond to our questions and comments regarding the program.

If you want to go find out more about Motivate and the Ford GoBikes, here is your chance. If I were going I would ask these questions:

What does this mean? “the newly rebranded Bay Area Bike Share” We assume the new brand is Motivate, which we recently learned from a program on KQED radio program, is the private/public entity that was created between MTC (the regional pubic funding entity that distributes government taxes and grants) and, what appears to be, a private corporate entity or entities.

Three questions arise from this information:

  1. Re-branding: What was the original brand before the re-branding?
  2. Expansion: Expansion of what? Who or what was in the original organization and who or what is in this iteration? Which government agencies or departments are involved and which private or corporate entities are involved in this deal?
  3. What is the government’s role and goal in these partnership agreements?

As a voting taxpayer, one must determine where or not this is a proper task for a regional transportation funding organization and how this effects our eagerness to pay higher taxes knowing how they are being used.

How did all of these contracts get signed by our government officials without our notice or discussion or consent? Do we want a government that excludes public from the discussion until after the contracts are signed? Are these legitimate contracts when the pubic is kept in the dark until they are signed?

Congressman denounces Bay Area toll hike for transit

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Twilight on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

East Bay Rep. Mark DeSaulnier has been back home and getting an earful about the situation in Washington — but it was the proposed ballot measure to raise tolls on the state’s Bay Area bridges to help fund transit projects that got his blood boiling…

The measure — which would raise tolls by $2 to $3 — is being put together by a collection of Bay Area legislators. It’s expected to generate about $125 million for a slew of road and mass transit improvements throughout the nine-county region…

DeSaulnier is not alone. State Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, is raising questions about how the money would be spent, as is Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon.

Other East Bay officials, whose constituents would pay the bulk of the toll increase, have said they’ll support the measure only if more projects are added to the goody list in Alameda and Contra Costa counties…(more)

Why not move the jobs to the housing? Would that not be a cheaper less painful solution for the folks living in the suburbs? With so many creative ideas coming out of Sacramento you would think they could figure that one out. Why not just spread the wealth and political power? Cut their commutes and commute traffic around the coast cities at the same time. After the floods in the Gulf coast you might want to think twice about building huge cities at sea level.

BART: $20 million for expanded parking at Dublin station hinges on Assemblywoman Catharine Baker

By : mercurynews – excerpt

DUBLIN — Assemblywoman Catharine Baker unexpectedly secured a $20 million commitment from the governor’s office to pay for expanded parking at BART’s Dublin/Pleasanton station, which would fulfill a long-held promise by the transit agency to build a second garage there.

The only problem? BART’s governing board doesn’t want the garage. And that has the $20 million in limbo while Baker decides how to spend it…

BART’s board was split on the new plan, voting 5-4 to adopt the so-called “hybrid” model, which also includes proposals to enhance the station’s connections to the Iron Horse Trail, install new bike parking and work with the local bus operator to improve transit to and from the station. The plan is more flexible, and would use attendant-assisted parking with automated parking structure modules added over time to test their effectiveness, staff said.

But Baker isn’t buying it. She doesn’t trust the automated parking structures, which are used worldwide but she said have yet to be tested at a transit station, where hundreds of people get off the train at the same time during rush-hour commutes…

“Look at how unreliable BART’s escalators and elevators are,” Baker said. “BART wants to promise that not only will that technology be reliable, but it will get them their car in 90 seconds. … I just don’t believe that plays out in reality.”

So where does that leave the $20 million? Baker says the money will be used to build some parking structure near the BART station, whether it’s on BART property or not… (more)

When the City Sells Your Street

By Laura Bliss : citylab – excerpt

Fordbikes.jpg

A new corner of a public street next to a public park and across the street from a Muni parking lot sprung up overnight without warning. photo by zrants

The San Francisco millionaires who had their street bought by real-estate investors might not get much sympathy. But when cities sell off real public assets, it’s everyone’s concern…

In a statement provided to CityLab, the HOA puts its perspective this way:[Lam and Cheng] waited over two years to notice the HOA presumably so the property sale would be more difficult to rescind. From their quotes in the newspaper it appears they are opportunistic, know exactly what they bought, and would like to exploit a bureaucratic oversight to their advantage…The mansion-dwellers who lost their street don’t need anyone’s pity. But on second glance, the story is instructive for anyone concerned about the rise of privatized public space and services.

Why did these rich people own a street in the first place?

The mansion-dwellers who lost their street don’t need anyone’s pity. But on second glance, the story is instructive for anyone concerned about the rise of privatized public space and services.

Central to this strange tale is the neighborhood homeowners association. The Presidio Terrace HOA states in its lawsuit that it had owned and maintained the oval-shaped street in question since 1905, when the neighborhood was developed. Its roots go back much further than most...

“Things can sometimes get done in a very off-the-record way, which can also affect what we’d expect from an entity that provides public services: to provide them fairly and efficiently,” says Cheung. Accidental or not, the sale of a road at an obscure city auction, without the knowledge of residents, is an extreme example of what can happen in a neighborhood in the hands of a quasi-private governing body with perhaps questionable management skills.

Similar questions of transparency and accountability come up when cities decide to sell off assets like water systems and parking meters, or contracting out services like trash collection or even police.

And what can the new owners do with it?

The fact that Presidio Terrace was sold to a new private owner—this time, a couple living in another city, with the full intention of turning a dime—echoes another concerning dimension of the privatization trend. When the agenda is profit, public space is no longer fully public…

when actual public streets turn over to private hands, it’s like a little bit of democracyerodes away. Rarely can people organize, gather, or rally in a space where a private owner is liable for injuries and lost business. Clearly, government does not always excel at upholding freedoms of speech and protest. But by nature, in the U.S., private owners are more restrictive...(more)

For a number of years we have been watching and writing about the privatization of public property and hoping that someone with means would take up the fight against the trend.

Hopefully that day has arrived and the courts can deal with the matter in a broader sense than this one event and this one taking and selling. Many excuses for taking public property and handing it over to private enterprises involve the government’s embracing of the so-called “sharing” economy, that is being exposed as a not-so-friendly corporate culture intent on disrupting our lives be convincing us we have not choice but to succumb.

This story raises a number of issues that need to be resolved and hopefully will get more media attention and generate more public involvement.

  1. Noticing is at the top of the list of every complaint being filed or mentioned. In this day of constant communications and overload of information, somehow, the simple task of properly noticing has been lost or abandoned. How can this be fixed? If you can’t notice a few people on a private street that they are in arrears of tax payments, how can you hope to notice a neighborhood that a large project that will change their neighborhood forever is under consideration?
  2. Taking of public property by a government from the pubic with intent to sell or lease it to private entities is a highly questionable practice for many of the reasons the author indicates and effects us all. Many questions need to be answered about this practice.
  3. Where does he authority come from to remove public property from public use?
  4. Who is benefiting from the taking, selling and leasing?
  5. Who is harmed by this practice?
  6. Who is upholding the private property rights? Are public tax-paid officials used by private entities to uphold private rules and regulations on these private properties? Do they send in the sheriff to tow a car or contractor’s vehicle as they send in a sheriff to evict a tenant?
  7. How does this work with the public streets that are being leased to corporations for their private parking use?
  8. What can the public do to take back control of the property?
  9. How can the pubic weigh in on the practice and perhaps reverse or stop it?
  10. Who will take the lead on solving this problem?

RELATED:

San Francisco’s privately owned streets: Do you live on one of them?

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-s-privately-owned-streets-Do-you-11746359.php

You may want to check this list. It is not a small list of privately owned streets.

Man screaming death threats terrorizes BART train

 By Otis R. Taylor Jr. : sfchronicle – excerpt

Imagine settling in for your morning commute on BART when a man yells this at the top of his lungs: “I’m going to kill you.”

Mike Hohndorf and dozens of other passengers got a body-shaking jolt, not unlike a train lurching out of a station, during their commute early Friday morning from a belligerent rider who terrorized a train car for seven stops — even though Hohndorf said the man first made threats at the North Concord/Martinez BART Station and that he told a BART police officer about the man at the station.

“I’m going to stab all of you,” the man yelled as the passengers clustered waiting for the station gates to open. The officer allowed the man to board the train, where he continued to threaten passengers. Hohndorf and another passenger contacted BART officials to report the problem. BART told them they would mobilize at the 12th Street Station in Oakland — several stops later. By then, the man had gotten off… (more)

Keep this in mind the next time you see a BART cop. “There is nothing he can do.” Why are we hiring police to patrol BART if there is nothing they can do about a man yelling threats at people aimlessly? The Richmond Mayor witnessed an attack at a BART station last week. BART and the city cops claimed confusion over “jurisdiciton” of the area. Who is running this zoo?

We all know that Muni is not safe and the streets and sidewalks are not safe. Now we have to worry about BART too?

Supervisor Sheehy testified at the SF County Transit Authority meeting this week, that is made of of the Board of Supervisors, that “Muni is not safe” as he was speaking in behalf of parents who drive their children to school and need a place to pull over to let the kids out at their schools.

Before SFMTA gets away with any more parking or drop-off eliminations, the city authorities need to deal with this issue of safety at and around stations and on the public transit. This lack of safety could be a large factor in the drop-off of Muni riders, along with the loss of seats on buses and the reduction of bus stops. SFMT is pushing people off the public transit into car-shares, Ubers and Lyfts. Is this what SF residents want out of their public transit system?

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