back to article Finally, San Francisco cleans up the crap from its streets – yes, all those fscking scooters

San Francisco has banned commercial electric scooters, which can be rented via apps, from its streets – after several months of confrontation between the authorities and tech companies. Three upstarts – Bird, LimeBike, and Spin – that have littered the American city with thousands of scooters that can be grabbed, used, and …

  1. DJSpuddyLizard

    I'd heard of them, but I didn't realize how obnoxious these are till I saw them in person yesterday in Nashville. A required safety feature should be for them to beep loudly every five seconds, at least I'll have time to switch my brolly to "dismount the idiot" mode when walking down the sidewalk.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    It really is the current year

    A Pied Data Piper offering amazing-tech pleasure rides with negative externalities in a state in which coffee and WLAN are carcinogenic.

    Only some reference to sanctuary cities and the #Resistance with multi billion-dollar payout due to perceived racially-charged microaggressions could top that.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: It really is the current year

      Attempting to channel amanfromMars, DaM?

      Don't quit your day job.

    2. BillG

      Google's First Law of Aquisition

      Peskin points out that the companies have all told him that they aren't selling the data...

      "Once you have their data, never give it back."

      - Google's First Law of Aquisition

      1. paulf
        Big Brother

        Re: Google's First Law of Aquisition

        FTA: "The others are trying a less aggressive line, saying they will [...] require driver licenses before approving users."

        Another load of data to add to the pile of personal information required to use the service. I wonder how many services a driver's licence can be used to link in to, to target ads more effectively improve the user experience.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the solution is simple

    Run a "Citizens! Throw abandoned scooters in your nearest skip/dumpster" campaign. When the attrition rate mounts, the investors, if not the beardsters might conclude it's stupid business model.

    1. kain preacher

      Re: Surely the solution is simple

      Great idea except for problem. If they cared about the scooters they would be picking up the abandon ones. Instead you get to see you tube videos of city works tossing them in the back of a skip by the dozens.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Surely the solution is simple

        > If they cared about the scooters they would be picking up the abandon ones

        Actually they do pay people go retrieve and charge them

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Surely the solution is simple

      "Throw abandoned scooters in your nearest skip/dumpster"

      It only really works if skip-diving's illegal but it would ease the litter problem.

    3. 2Nick3

      Re: Surely the solution is simple

      Which is probably why the one company is checking credit ratings - I'd suspect if you were the last rider of a missing scooter the company might be coming after you for the replacement cost.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Surely the solution is simple

        "I'd suspect if you were the last rider of a missing scooter the company might be coming after you for the replacement cost."

        The problem is that they are very lightweight and easily picked up. The last person to officially use one may have properly put the scooter away and then somebody can by and took it away to harvest parts from it to sell. The company would have a hard time trying to collect.

        1. 2Nick3

          Re: Surely the solution is simple

          All true, but fighting something you agreed to in the T&Cs can be an uphill battle.

          Once you assume these companies aren't acting in the best interest of their customers what they can try to pull off is scary.

  4. Dabbb


    What's wrong with having free source of 18650 batteries, GSM transmitters and GPS receivers laying around ?

    1. 404

      Re: Duh

      EXACTLY what I was thinking... 'What's in 'em?'

      Parts is parts....

      1. Dabbb

        Re: Duh

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Duh

        Looks like a couple of nice Blox modules including a newer Neo M8 GPS board and a stack of Li batteries (18650's?, they look a bit fatter than an 18650)

  5. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    "...go GDPR on their asses..."

    Thank you for that chuckle. I'll add it to my list of phrases I like to quote. Cheers & enjoy a pint in gratitude. =-)

  6. jake Silver badge

    About fucking time.

    Those things are a blight on society. Learn to walk, you lazy bastards.

    (Insert obvious exceptions for the truly mobility challenged.)

  7. DCFusor

    Old money vs new

    Same old hypocrisy. "tech bros vs San Franciscans"? SF'ians "old money" are going "I got mine, you whippersnappers are a problem" - just like big tech's "kill zone" for threatening startups, or big corps lobbying for regulatory moats around their near monopolies that would otherwise be easily disrupted.

    Left=Right=statist and status quo ante. Call me if that ever changes. It's only gotten more blatant in my 64 years...they used to hide it better - but they did it too back in the day. This is actually a very old story.

    Ah, the wonders of the internet. Will anyone do anything but whine?

    Glad I live in the mountains of the East, far from all those diseases caused by population density. It makes the 23 mile round trip to the beer store worth it not to have *any* of those kinds of troubles.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Old money vs new

      Mountains in the East? I take it you don't live in North America?

      1. 404

        Re: Old money vs new

        Appalachians and/or Smoky Mountains...

        Hey neighbor!

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Old money vs new

          Them ain't mountains, pardner. Them's hills.

          1. 404

            Re: Old money vs new

            If in the Rockies, sure, see your point.

            If in Texas, fuck off > Texas doesn't have any mountains...low mesas max.

            One thing to remember, if Burt Reynolds couldn't make it out of the Smokies in 'Deliverance', I don't think much of your chances ;)

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Old money vs new

              Texas? No, I live in the West. Got kin in the hills outside Otto, N.C. though. I've "made it out" of the Smokies more times than I can count. Usually with a specialty product or two in tow. (I make my own country ham these days, and eventually I'll be licensed to sell Applejack here in California.)

              Texas does have mountains, to be fair ... but they are all west of the Pecos, and to all intents & purposes should be a part of New Mexico ... or perhaps in their own state (they actually vote Democrat! In Texas! Whodathunkit?).

              1. 404

                Re: Old money vs new

                Ever drive down through Murphy NC via Hwy 64? Good ride. I imagine you go across I-40.

                I lived in Simi Valley in the early 70's, spent the majority of my time in Southern Arizona (pointy mountains dude..) though. Moved here in 03, favorite part of the country.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Old money vs new

                  "Ever drive down through Murphy NC via Hwy 64?"

                  Overnight at a friend's in Cleveland TN, about 110 miles & just under two hours ride to Franklin NC, hang a right ... Many times. Small world. Beer? :-)

                  Simi Valley is a poor representation of California. I helped a cousin of the Wife move out of there once. Good place to put in your rear view mirror.

      2. Eddy Ito

        Re: Old money vs new

        Technically, the easternmost point in North America is Semisopochnoi Island which is part of Alaska.

    2. The Nazz

      Re: Old money vs new

      the disease of population density


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Old money vs new

      Your maths may be a bit out...

      $1 to rent and 15c per minute after that, so $10 for the first hour and $9 per hour after.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Old money vs new

        For the rental amounts, its cheaper to call a rideshare or hop in a cab. Cute little fad which should die right next to hoverboards and segways

  8. Mike Friedman

    San Franciscans have responded to this stupidity by simply chucking them into dumpsters.

    It's not good that they then get thrown in the landfill but the companies deserve this. They're awful people.

    1. Grikath

      Doubt the things go into landfill.. Them scooters are worth far more as scrap and parts.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Chuck them in landfill and then charge the firms for illegal dumping, the scooter has the company's logo and contact details on them after all.

  9. spold Silver badge

    Why would you be surprised that your data is being taken for a ride?

    I'm thinking scrap metal collection trucks - electric driven by all those batteries that seem to come along with it for free. Until the ride companies go bust the city could adopt a zero cost perpetual motion model - transport powered by the ride companies and the scrap pays the collector's wages.

  10. The Nazz

    Cheap ride?

    As a Scotsman living in Yorkshire i, personally don't consider a $ plus tax a minute to be cheap, $69 an hour?

    Not helped by listening to some great 1969 songs which make reference to earning 10/3 (shillings and pence) a week and lobbing half a crown to a disaster fund.

    ps the full conditions of legal use seem a bit OTT. Also surprised you don't appear to need $10m of insurance.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Cheap ride?

      "As a Scotsman living in Yorkshire"

      The moths in your coin purse are tied down with dusty cobwebs?

      I'm fairly tight w't'brass meself, but this round's on me for the bad humo(u)r at the expense of stereotype :-)

  11. 89724102371719531892724I9755670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921 Bronze badge

    50cc Motorised Bicycles

    Simple, cheap (200mpg) but uninsurable and in the uk endless hoops for the owner to jump through. It should be a lot easier.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: 50cc Motorised Bicycles

      I'm pretty sure those electric scooters would be illegal on the road, and on the pavement in the UK, which would limit them to private property.

      I did see someone on an electric bike recently which at first glance looked like a chunky mountain bike, but went like a greased whippet. The rider didn't have a helmet on of course, but still, it looked much more useable (and fun) than the usual pedals+motor setup of a normal electric bike.

      1. andy gibson

        Re: 50cc Motorised Bicycles

        Electric bikes: licensing, tax and insurance

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    F All to do with rides, all about getting you to run their data harvester on your phone.

    It's not a scooter, it's a Trojan Horse.

    And should be treated like one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F All to do with rides, all about getting you to run their data harvester on your phone.

      How many soldiers could you fit in one?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heads I Win - Tails You lose - Economics

    Just look at those T&C.... Talk about Silly 'con' Valley... So long suckers!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Silicon Valley: A-Wall-Street-Mugs-Game


      'Venture-capitalist false consciousness':

      "An important story of the modern technology industry is its contribution to inequality, as entrepreneurs and venture capitalists become fabulously wealthy with scalable digital products that do not create lots of middle-class jobs to match the wealth they build for their tiny elite class of owners. At the limit, robots will do all the work, and the people who invent and own the robots will have all the wealth, and everyone else will Starve?"



      'Even though the public owns the majority of Facebook's stock':

      "Zuckerberg has ultimate control thanks to a special kind of stock that gives him 10 votes on corporate matters for every one vote of other shareholders. He can do almost whatever he likes with Facebook even though the public owns the majority of Facebook's stock".

  14. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Electric Mopeds

    Here in Düsseldorf we're seeing the usual explosion on rentable bikes crowding out parking spaces for bikes – Mobike has just arrived – but with little use. But we've also got electric mopeds. These are provided by the local utility company and seem like a good idea. First of all, there aren't that many of them but they do seem popular with young adults as a better fit than either a bike, not least because you can ride tandem on them, or a car which you need a licence for. Based on the anecdotal evidence of what I see on the streets I reckon they have the best utility rate of all the options.

    Information, in Jorman, if you're interested in the details.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here in Austin...

    We have (or had, and now they're back) these fucking things and as a pedestrian I hate them with a passion. The asshats that ride them don't give a flying fuck about anyone's safety, including their own, and I've been nearly run down multiple times walking on the sidewalk where these things are ILLEGAL to ride. I voice my opinion loudly every time it happens, usually greeted by a friendly one-finger solute from the jackass that nearly mowed me down.

    No matter what you think of the tech, the bros that came up with the idea or the people that like to ride them, until they get some serious regulation and enforcement around how these scooters are actually used day in and day out, they are a public safety hazard. Guess it's going to take someone getting seriously injured or killed before the lawyers sue them all out of existence. Sadly, that can't happen soon enough.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here in Austin...

      You need to develop a sudden reliance on a walking cane for mobility assistance. The next time one of those asshats nearly runs you down, jab your cane through the spokes & send them flying. You can tell the judge that you were surprised, lost your balance, & were extending your cane to stay upright "and the next thing I know some sidewalk-driving-electric-cyclist was flying like a bird!" You can use your counter-suit-reward to buy yourself new canes!

  16. Nimby

    how to deal with the fact that most users of the scooters persistently break the law

    Golly gee willickers, if only the city could hire people with the explicit purpose of upholding law. Perhaps put them into standardized uniforms to make them easy to recognize. People who would then watch out for the breakage of laws and curtail individual lawbreakers with the express purpose of warning, fining, or even detaining them for periods of time. You know, people who could police the populace. It sure is a shame that such a thing obviously must not be possible.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: how to deal with the fact that most users of the scooters persistently break the law

      The police in San Francisco are so hamstrung by local politics that they have to fill out forms (in triplicate) before they are allowed to breathe when in uniform. Expecting them to actually do police work with all the constraints they work under is just plain silly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: how to deal with the fact that most users of the scooters persistently break the law

      I find a set of expertly thrown bolos through the spokes does an excellent job of stopping such folks from continuing their public safety hazard ways. Or a boomarang to the side of their head. Or a slingshot round into the buttocks. Or lying in wait on a conveniently placed rooftop above frequently traveled sidewalks where such riders tend to go so I can "accidentally" pour cauldrens of boiling oil down upon their head...

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: how to deal with the fact that most users of the scooters persistently break the law

      Oh sure, I can just see officer Donut getting out of his full size SUV to chase a kid on an electric scooter slaloming through pedestrian traffic. Does he/she/It (SF, you never can tell) leave said SUV double parked blocking traffic as chasing takes place?

  17. Potemkine! Silver badge

    I bought one of those recently (Xiaomi M365). For the price the item is impressive. It's a good alternative to go to work rather than taking car or (motor)bike. Riding one is legally a grey area here in France. Technically, it's forbidden to drive one on roads (when electric bicycles are allowed, don't ask for MPs to be coherent), and it's tolerated on pavement, as long as you don't go faster than a pedestrian. It's also tolerated to drive one in bicycle lane, but it's just a tolerance. But living in Southern France, policemen are more relaxed and didn't bother me with such details for the moment.

    I do not understand why these electric scooters aren't consider as bicycles, as long as they do not exceed a speed of 25 km/h (0.0002% of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum), are equipped with lights and brakes.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      it's forbidden to drive one on roads (when electric bicycles are allowed, don't ask for MPs to be coherent)

      Well, there is history: everything used to be allowed to use the road until they were so many cars that this was no longer safe. Bikes and horses were allowed to stay.

      It's pretty elementary road safety: bikes have reasonably low centres of gravity which means that the users fly off them less often and less far in accidents. E-bikes are pedal-assist only or need insurance…

      Every now and then there is a new form of transport whose fans think it should be allowed to be used on the road. Then there are the accidents… and the next fashion.

  18. Mike Richards

    I've heard this somewhere before

    'One company – Bird – has already responded through its lawyers claiming it has no responsibility for what its users decide to do when on their scooter.'

    Ah, the old 'we're just a tech platform' argument.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Credit reference check

    > Among the eyebrow-raising rights that the companies award themselves is the ability to check users' credit ratings

    I'm sure Equifax [1] will be round very quickly with the lawyers if they attempt to resell the credit reference info

    [1] or whoever provides the check

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Calm down Author/Kieren-McCarthy,

    You sound very, very bitter. Love your neighbor, spread the love and not hate.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the 494,00 dockless cars that are the real transport problem in SF.

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