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BIRD / Skootel Electric Scooters are Now Banned in Old San Juan… is Condado Next?
Article by Mark Derho, 6-10-2021.
In May 28th, 2021 article in the San Juan Daily Star entitled, “Scooters banned in Old San Juan“, it is now illegal to ride the BIRD / Skootel electric scooters in Old San Juan, and failure to follow the law may result in fines ranging from $250 to $500.
New Fines and Executive Orders Issued by San Juan Mayor Romero Lugo
Leadership is shown by San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero Lugo, as he executes Executive Order MSJ-034, Series 2020-2021.
Mayor Romero Lugo was quoted as saying;
“Given the problem and the high risk of accidents that have arisen from the use of electric scooters in areas with a large number of pedestrians, San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero Lugo announced on Thursday the signing of Executive Order MSJ-034, Series 2020-2021, which prohibits the use of scooters in the historic area of Old San Juan.”
MSJ-034, Series 2020-2021 Fines up to $500
Executive Order MSJ-034, Series 2020-2021, as established in the Traffic and Vehicle Parking Code of the Municipality of San Juan states:
“any user who violates the prohibition within the Historic Zone of Old San Juan is subject to a fine of $250. The fine could reach $500 when there are aggravating circumstances due to negligence, or when through reckless negligence, the user is involved in an accident that causes physical or material damage to another person or their property.”
Despite the fact that these BIRD / Skootel e-scooters are still allowed in my community of Condado, I am encouraged by the safety-conscious leadership shown by San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero Lugo.
Mark Derho vs Skootel
By way of this article, I am both bringing attention to the problem and respectfully requesting that Mayor Romero Lugo also extend Executive Order MSJ-034, Series 2020-2021 to Condado, and ban the use of electric scooters here for community safety and health reasons.
As the former Executive of Operations for BIKE RENT NYC (2015-2018) in Central Park, New York City; I have seen the negative results and consequences of dockless e-scooters.
Stop Skootel Scooter on Facebook
This is an important issue for me and for the community of Condado where I own and manage my business. For the last year I have been documenting the dangerous conditions and numerous safety problems created by the Skootel e-scooter dockless-rental model on the Facebook Page: Stop Skootel Scooter (facebook.com/stopskootelscooters).
Public Debate Challenge
I have communicated through employees and on Facebook to Juan Padilla, the owner of Skootel, that I want to have a public debate on the viability of Skootel e-scooters in Condado, focusing on safety and responsibility.
A Clear Example of the Problem
The first time I witnessed people using the devices in San Juan, PR was on 6/2/2020, in Condado and on Ashford Avenue in front of the La Concha Resort at approximately 3 pm. I witnessed the following: four (4) unsupervised minors riding three scooters with one scooter conveying two (2) teen children.
The four children were operating the electronic vehicles recklessly in the street, and no one was wearing a helmet. Mayor Romero Lugo further noted in the aforementioned article that “sidewalks are narrow and unsuitable for parking these vehicles, and the the traffic on many of these [streets] is one-way”, and that the Municipal Police of San Juan have received complaints, and incidents have required intervention by the Municipal Agency for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration, and other emergency medical services.
I absolutely agree with Mayor Romero Lugo assessment quoted below, and believe that the same responsible actions should be taken in Condado;
“It is necessary to take the measures contained in this Executive Order in order to safeguard the quality of life and the safety of all residents and visitors to the historic area of Old San Juan,” the mayor said. “It is urgent and unavoidable to implement those actions that result in minimizing accidents on our public roads, sidewalks and other public spaces, keeping our sidewalks free of obstacles and ensuring healthy coexistence within our historic area, which is a meeting point for residents, merchants, visitors and tourists.”
Skootel is a BIRD Franchise
Based on my own research, Skootel is simply a BIRD franchise.
They’ve invented nothing, and I believe they do not even own the scooters.
It is important to understand that BIRD is a technology company first, founded by notoriously self-centered former Lyft Executive Travis VanderZanden, and based in San Francisco, CA.
In a 2019 Inc.com article discussing VanderZanden’s personality, tactics and the initial launch of Bird Rides in Santa Monica, California;
“many residents of this beachfront community-long a haven for cyclists, skateboarders, inline and roller skaters, and Razor scooters–proved far more enthusiastic. Chaos quickly ensued. Citizens piloted Birds on the sidewalk (illegally). Teens caused mayhem by ignoring traffic laws while double-riding. Pedestrians tripped over discarded scooters that clogged the walkways. There were accidents, serious head injuries”.
The article further stated that as a result of government intervention, six months after the scooters appeared, Bird agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a nine-count misdemeanor criminal complaint levied by the city attorney’s office. From only a business and finance perspective, BIRD is an “unicorn start-up”.
“Bird might be the fastest-growing company ever,” said Mark Suster, the managing partner of Upfront Ventures.
No. 1, please ban Skootel e-scooters in Condado.
I agree with Atlanta Georgia Transportation Commissioner Andy Herod who has stated publicly;
“There’s no place that they’re not dangerous,” “I think we should just ban the d— things and be done with it.”
In addition to fines for riders, it would seem that our own local government in Puerto Rico may find it feasible and even expeditious to explore legal options for demanding monetary compensation based on the community dangers and disruptions caused and created by Skootel and BIRD.