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Police Continue Scooter Education Campaign Wednesday Amid Growing Call for Enforcement
By Jorge Casuso
July 24, 2018 -- Santa Monica police will continue its highly publicized education and enforcement of traffic laws for electric scooter users as part of a campaign that has so far won mixed reviews.
As part of the campaign, which was launched last week, police are inviting the media to cover the operation that will take place Wednesday between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Downtown.
"All media outlets are welcome to observe the operation and capture any photographs or video desired," police officials announced in a pres release.
It comes as the City prepares to launch a 16-month pilot program in September that will cap the number of vehicles rented in the city, set standards and address safety issues ("Santa Monica Launches Pilot Program for Electric Scooters, Bicycles," June 13, 2018).
As of July 14, police had made 1,281 stops involving motor scooters this year, leading to 672 citations, officials said.
But the operation conducted on the beach bike path last weekend did nort result in any tickets issued to the approximately 900 riders stopped, according to reports.
Police also did not charge the $60 impound fee for any of the 300 scooters taken off the path and returned to the companies that rent them.
"We don't want (the campaign) to be enforcement driven," Lt. Saul Rodriguez told the Lookout last week.
Police, Rodriguez said, are criticized by electric scooter users because they write too many citations and by critics who think they are too lax in their enforcement.
"No matter how we do it, we're stuck in the middle," he said.
It remains unclear if riding electric scooters on the beach bike path is legal, Rodriguez said. As a result police have not enforced the law there.
But some critics think police need to do more to control the popular vehicles thay fear are taking over the beach city's streets, sidewalks and bike paths.
In the past week, more than 1,300 people signed an online petition to ban scooters from the bike path ("Santa Monica Mother Launches Petition Drive After Son Injured by Motorized Scooter," July 18 2018).
The petition was posted on Change.org by a mother whose seven-year-old son lost several teeth in a collision with a scooter. The petition also calls for stricter enforcement.
Harriet Epstein, a vocal critic of the City's handling of electric scooters, called last weekend's enforcement "a pr con job."
"Why are you coddling the two billion-dollar companies?" Epstein wrote in a letter to Deputy City Manager Anuj Gupta, reffering to Bird and Lime. "How can you justify that kind of enforcement?
The companies, Epstein said, should use their "powerful technology" to "insure the safety of our residents.
"No other seven-year-old boy should have his teeth knocked out," she wrote.
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