Oakland has given four companies a green light to deploy up to 3,500 street-rented electric scooters.
The East Bay city has already had scores of free-floating e-scooters from a variety of vendors available to rent via apps. But it is now issuing its first official permits — and there may be more to come.
The Oakland Department of Transportation said that San Francico’s Lime, Santa Monica’s Bird, San Francisco’s Lyft and Los Angeles newcomer Clevr have permission to operate starting this week. Bird, Lime and Lyft can each offer up to 1,000 scooters, while Clevr may rent out up to 500.
The city is reviewing additional permit applications, which could result in more being approved, said spokesman Sean Maher.
While the advent of e-scooters created a huge controversy in San Francisco, their reception across the bay has been less contentious. Unlike San Francisco, Oakland never slapped a temporary ban on the devices, although it also had some backlash. San Francisco has permitted up to 2,500 of the devices in a pilot program that lasts until mid October.
“We hear a lot from community members that they like having a convenient, relatively inexpensive swift way to get around without depending on a car,” Maher said. “We have also heard from residents that they’re concerned about the basic safety of using scooters, about riders on sidewalks, and scooters left in inappropriate places.”
Oakland encourages residents who experience issues with scooters to contact its Oak 311 service via phone, app or website. Complaints will be quickly forwarded to the permit holders, the city said.
Oakland requires its scooter operators “to educate users on the correct and safe use of scooters, distribute the scooters equitably throughout Oakland, ensure accessibility, provide insurance and indemnification, and more,” it said.
Lyft is “thrilled” to bring its scooters to Oakland before the Fourth of July weekend, according to Jake Darby, market manager for Lyft bikes and scooters. “Lyft is committed to a future where Oakland is built around people instead of cars,” he said by email.
Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @csaid