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Shared Micromobility in California is changing for the worse!

Thursday, November 3, 2022

A recent article has reported on an insurance bill has been imposed on the companies providing e-scooter services in California. The bill threatens burdening the company to such an extent they cannot operate.

In a summary of bill A.B. 371, which just passed the state legislature, the article makes the following comment: “The bill imposes extreme insurance requirements on shared e-scooter companies, far beyond what the state currently requires of private car owners or even car rental companies. It makes these companies liable for the behavior of anyone using their service. This is illogical and counterproductive.”

The counterproductivity is both in terms of business, and perhaps more importantly in terms of the countering affect these technologies can have on emissions. An important study of shared mobility shows that the fifty biggest U.S. cities could save nearly 100 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year by investing heavily in shared mobility.

Flexibility is the most important reason that people take advantage of different micromobility options, said The world’s biggest micromobility study while a quarter of these trips substitute for transit trips. Overly restrictive regulation reduces flexibility, both for users and service providers.

The article concludes that “The right regulations can help cities achieve congestion and pollution reduction, as well as environmental sustainability goals all while giving people more choice in how they get around.” The article does not argue that user behavior of micromobility can be an issue, but it points out that this heavy-handed regulatory action isn’t the answer.

Personal comments 

This bill might lead to greater safety for those using e-scooters, but it might do so at the cost of companies that can provide the service. If the legislation makes the scooter companies liable for any wrong behavior of the riders this seems both illogical and could be the end of micromobility operations in the state. As the article points out there are other options, and it is surprising that these either haven’t been considered or that they have been ignored.

Perhaps most relevant, and one that we have mentioned many times in Smart Mobility, is investing in dedicated infrastructure for micromobility. This would, however, shift some of the burden to the state. The policy makers can ask the different stakeholders in the challenge to come along and propose what is best for the better functioning of micromobility services as a provider, a user, and a city planner.

Written by Adeleh Mohammadi, 
RISE Mobility & Systems