In future months, the city may pilot a shared mobility program, bringing those rentable bicycles or scooters to the downtown area for residents and workers to use.
The City Council voted unanimously to open a bidding period for shared mobility companies to offer proposals for bicycles — manual or electric — as well as electric scooters to be placed downtown. Per Councilwoman Paula Devine’s suggestion, bids for each vehicle will be separate in the event the council wants to commit strictly to one or the other.
If Devine has her druthers, it would certainly be bicycles.
“I’m in favor of the pilot program. However, I want it on-record that I am against scooters,” she said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “I have safety concerns and aesthetic concerns about control of scooters.”
The city aims to have around 500 of the vehicles available, with the staff report calling for no more than 250 scooters (if, indeed, they are brought in at all). The requests for proposal, or RFPs, could result in up to two firms being selected, based on what they offer.
“We essentially could mix and match the combination depending on how these firms respond to the RFP and how much they meet the requirements that we’re setting forth,” explained Bradley Calvert, assistant director of community development.
The operation area would primarily cover the downtown area — excluding the Americana at Brand — and also reach into the Tropico neighborhood and include access to the Larry Zarian Transportation Center, giving access to the Greater Los Angeles rail network. Operating hours would be between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. each day.
“This is from an equity perspective,” Calvert said, “recognizing those who may be working in the service economy need these devices later in the evening and making sure they are available.”
A “geofencing” system would prevent the devices from being activated if they are outside of the permitted service area; riders who take the devices out of that area will be able to finish their trip and the devices will not suddenly stop working, Calvert noted, because that would present a safety issue. These devices must be used on roadways and not sidewalks.
Within the service area, there will be parking hubs established to encourage riders to place the devices in properly cordoned-off areas. This also would make it easier for their companies to locate, repair and recharge the devices as needed. The RFPs also include requests for incentive or penalty systems as an enforcement measure.
This all would help toward “trying not to clutter the street too much and trying to make sure that we keep these devices corralled in locations to prevent that kind of messy clutter that some cities have experienced,” Calvert said.
The city would, throughout the 12-month pilot program, evaluate its impact on the community and determine which issues crop up. There also is a provision to allow adjustments to fleet size after 90 days, to accommodate higher or lower demand. The city also is exploring the potential of synergizing this with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s forthcoming bike share program, which could mitigate cost burdens to Glendale.
“I’ve used a shared bike program in various cities I’ve visited with my family and I’ve always enjoyed them,” Councilman Ardy Kassakhian said. “I think Glendale’s downtown area is ideal for it.”
Humorously, Kassakhian also clarified Tuesday that the sidewalk restrictions for scooters only applies to motorized models.
“Before we get about 300 emails from angry 6-year-olds, like my son,” he added with a laugh.