The city will soon allow e-scooters on the beach bike path, a change to local law that will first be tested as a 12-month pilot program.

The change, approved by the City Council on Tuesday, will not go into effect immediately. City staff first must devise regulations mostly related to safety, which could take up to three months.

Councilmember Cindy Allen, who represents the Downtown coastline, pushed for the change as a way to improve safety, reduce car traffic around beaches and improve accessibility.

“We have a major opportunity here,” she said.

Councilmember Kristina Duggan, who represents the eastern part of the coast in Belmont Shore, was the lone vote against the item. She said she’s heard from too many of her constituents who, among other concerns, don’t think the city can manage the safety issues around allowing electric scooters in such close proximity to pedestrians.

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Duggan pitched an alternative motion that included waiting until city staff answer a number of questions and give more specifics on issues of concern like speed limits, the location of drop-off areas and possible “slow zones,” but it was not supported by anyone else on the council.

“I think there are a lot of things to look at before we move forward with this,” Duggan said. “We need to work out the details and go back to the community. … People are concerned.”

The majority of those who use scooters rent them from companies allowed to operate in Long Beach, including Lime and Bird. The change would also apply to those who own their own devices.

Scooter travel has increased in popularity since the city launched its initial citywide pilot of the devices in 2018. They were initially banned from the beach, largely over fears of safety and the companies’ ability to retrieve scooters that are no longer in use.

The prohibition means there is currently no convenient way to travel by scooter from one end of the coast to the other without running afoul of city law. Scooters are only allowed on streets with a limit of less than 25 mph or in dedicated bike lanes. Long stretches of Ocean Boulevard, the main thoroughfare along the coast, have neither.

The city issued a recent memo showing two scooter riders have been killed in collisions since 2018, and both of them involved cars.

City staff also reported that e-scooter companies are getting better at retrieving the scooters and responding to complaints. In 2023, the city logged 8,675 service requests, and the companies responded quickly 88% of the time.

Allen said a pilot is the right approach; it will allow the city to make adjustments as needed.

“This is our opportunity to be really engaged,” she said.

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.