In 2019, San Antonio, Texas introduced electric scooters to their streets to a less than lukewarm reception. The city received so many complaints that electric scooters received their own designation on the San Antonio's 311 helpline. However, after several policy changes, technological advancements and a reduction in fleet size, the City Council approved new contracts to keep escooters around for at least another three years.
A majority of the rideables are stationed downtown since that is where they are most popular and most effective. According to local ordinance, they aren't restricted in their use to get to other parts of the city but the vendors can set a predetermined range of service that the electric scooters can be used in. This updated contract comes just a few weeks after the city of Paris banned shared electric scooters entirely. Other cities are taking a more scrutinizing look at rental electric scooters because people continue to ride recklessly, leave them in sidewalks or throw them into local waterways.
The new agreement in San Antonio will allow for two vendors to deploy 1,000 electric scooters each for two years starting October 1st with a third year renewal option available should the city decide to continue. They will remain at that amount for the foreseeable future as well. Although at one point there were 7 companies with a total of 16,000 permits. The two vendors will carry upright and seated escooters. The seated options often get used for longer trips because of their comfort and by more people who may not be able to use the upright versions due to mobility issues.
San Antonio is a prime example of a city adapting and learning about their electric scooter programs instead of outright eliminating them. They have restricted high foot traffic areas and the electric scooters are designated to streets or bike lanes. The Center City Development & Operations department has designated staff members to resolve issues with the rideables such as having them left on ADA ramps. Enhanced geofencing, GPS tracking and a better idea or restricted areas has significantly reduced the number of complaints the city receives. It will also come down to the people on the electric scooters to learn what they can before they ride. Self-education can vastly improve people's perception of electric scooters in general as well as reduce the number of complaints even further than they already are.
This is a wonderful sign for electric scooter riders everywhere. It shows local governments finding ways to fully integrate them into their public transportation infrastructure and laws.