Data shows that since Long Beach allowed the use of e-scooters in 2018, they have been involved in 113 crashes — two of them fatal. That’s an average of 22 e-scooter crashes per year — a number that pales in comparison to the more than 6,000 total traffic collisions reported by police annually, according to a city memo.

City leaders requested the data in April to inform a debate over whether to allow e-scooters on the beach bike path, an idea that many constituents in the southeast part of the city oppose, according to Councilmember Kristina Duggan, who represents the area.

At the time of the initial discussion in April, Duggan said she informally surveyed her constituents, and 85% of the nearly 600 respondents were against the idea. Residents worried about scooters being discarded along the coast, drunk and distracted riders posing a danger to pedestrians, speeding and reckless riding.

Councilmember Cindy Allen — who represents the western side of the coastline — argued that allowing scooters on the path, where there are no cars, would actually improve safety.

The majority of the scooter crashes reported by police over the past five years involved a motor vehicle, the new data shows. Three involved pedestrians, two involved emergency vehicles and one involved a school bus.

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The two fatal crashes occurred at busy intersections, and both involved cars: One at Seventh Street and Chestnut Avenue near Downtown in September 2022 and another in May at Ximeno Avenue and Shaw Street in Belmont Heights. In both cases, police said the scooter rider failed to yield at a stop sign or traffic signal before they were hit.

City staff also reported that e-scooter companies are getting better at responding to calls for service. Between October 2021 and 2022, residents and others made more than 14,000 requests to e-scooter companies to clear debris, and about 70% of the time they responded within two hours. In 2023, 8,675 service requests were logged, and the companies responded quickly 88% of the time.

“As a result of these improved partnerships, compliance, efficiency, and overall effectiveness of the program have increased,” the memo says.

Staff who compiled the data said that if the City Council wants to proceed with a new policy allowing scooters on the beach path, they would recommend a 12-month pilot period with regulations similar to other areas such as Venice Beach in Los Angeles, including:

  • E-scooters would only be allowed on the bike path, not the pedestrian path.
  • Establish a speed limit, and potentially “slow zones” in high-traffic areas.
  • Assurances from e-scooter companies that they can collect abandoned devices using electric golf carts or by using other non-vehicular methods.

The City Council would first need to debate and authorize such a pilot at a future public meeting.

If a pilot is approved, the city Public Works Department would then gather data during the trial period and report back. The director of Public Works would also have authority to end the program at any time if there are issues.

Melissa Evans is the Chief Executive Officer of the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal. Reach her at [email protected], @melissaevansLBP or 562-512-6354.