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>> Santa Monica is home to Bird, the company that started the rental craze of electric kick scooters. But now, the city is cracking down. It wants them off the sidewalks and used responsibly, launching a public campaign to get the message out and imposing steep fees. I'm Reuters' Jane Lanhee Lee, and Santa Monica isn't alone.
Cities across America are putting on the regulatory brakes and businesses are balking. Seatle, for example, introduced a $250,000 annual fee on bike sharing companies soon after Chinese bike sharing giant Ofo said it was leading Seattle and pointed to tough regulations and fees as one of the main reasons for dramatically scaling back its operations in the US.
In Dallas, where bike and scooter sharing had been particularly prolific, a spokesman for the transportation department told Reuters, the moment the city applied fees of $21 per vehicle per year, the number of them dropped noticeably. San Francisco-based Spin is concerned about the high fees, but thinks it will be okay, thanks to the popularity of scooters, as long as the fees don't get out of hand.
>> So we can't go too much into like the whole economic model, but I'll say that we're seeing very healthy margins, and the payback period for these things are within two or three weeks.>> Regulations and fees aren't spooking all startups. In fact, CleverMobility which came out of an incubator partially founded by the city of Los Angeles, sees an opportunity and is pitching itself not just to companies, but also to cities, to bridge the divide between government and startups.
>> RIght now, there's a little bit of friction happening between the private sector and municipalities with this kind of accelerated rollout of these shared mobility programs, where cities are caught a little bit flat-footed and are having a hard time reacting to the issues that arise.>> Clever says its tracking technology can help keep scooters off sidewalks and limit the speed.
For now, the startups approved by Santa Monica, Bird and Lime, having commented on the fee, and from all indications, they're pressing ahead to get as many scooters on the road as possible.