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Santa Monica Mother Launches Petition Drive After Son Injured by Motorized Scooter
By Jorge Casuso
July 18, 2018 -- A Santa Monica mother has launched an online petition drive to ban the use of motorized scooters on the beach bike path after her seven-year-old son lost several teeth in a recent collision.
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, more than 300 people had signed the petition "Banning/Restricting Motorized Scooters in Santa Monica" since Danielle Borgia posted it on Change.org a day ago.
It also calls for the City to "restrict motorized scooters from the streets and sidewalks" and for "ticketing as an effective deterrent to enforce these prohibitions."
Under the local municipal code, it is illegal to ride a motorized scooter on the beach bike path, said Constance Farrell, the City's public information officer.
It is also illegal to ride on sidewalks per the California Vehicle Code, Farrell said.
Police Department officials said they have not been citing those riding motor scooters on the bike path because the law is unclear.
"It's a gray area," said Lt. Saul Rodriguez, the Police Department spokesman. "I don't know if riding on the bike path is clearly illegal."
Rodriguez said police and City officials have been meeting to explore ways to address the issue, including a possible ordinance.
Borgia's post details the injuries she said her son suffered when he was "hit by a motorized scooter traveling at 20 mph heading south in the northbound lane on the beach path.
"The pole of the scooter struck him in the mouth, breaking his two front teeth, slicing his lip open, and loosening six other permanent teeth, which he may lose completely," Borgia wrote.
She also echoed the complaints of numerous residents that led the City to create a pilot program to set standards and address safety issues ("Santa Monica Launches Pilot Program for Electric Scooters, Bicycles," June 13, 2018).
"Our beach path has become unsafe, drivers are having to go to great lengths to avoid striking scooters disobeying the rules of the road, pedestrians are being struck on the sidewalks, and the scooters piling up on the sidewalks are hazards in our public walkways as well as infringing on private property," Borgia wrote.
"We must take measures, as other cities have done, to prevent the dangers that motorized scooters pose."
The petition is directed to Councilmember Kevin McKeown, whom Borgia contacted about the incident via email on Monday.
McKeown responded he was aware of the problem on the bike path and supported banning scooters there.
"It will take aggressive enforcement to make safety happen on the bike path, which already was chaotic on a good weekend without scooters," McKeown told the Lookout in an email Wednesday.
City Manager Rick Cole, he added is "working on deployment with Chief Renaud, at a time when other issues are competing for police resources."
Some of those who signed the petition gave their reasons for doing so, including a perceived lack of enforcement.
"The only way to discourage dangerous scooter riding is for the SMPD to ENFORCE basic safety laws," one person wrote. "A large ticket will convince people to learn how to ride safely. Nothing else will."
According to Rodriguez, as of July 14, police have made 1,281 stops involving motor scooters, leading to 672 citations.
Most have been in the Downtown and on Main Street, as well as along major boulevards such as Wilshire, he said.
"We've received tons of complaints," he said.
Starting next week, SMPD will launch a campaign to educate riders and enforce the law, Rodriguez said.
The campaign will continue for several months as the City launches its 16-month pilot program in September ("City Seeking Scooter and Bike Share Services for Pilot Program," July 13, 2018).
Borgia hopes to urge residents at Thursday night's meeting of Friends of Sunset Park to organize for next Tuesday's City Council meeting.
There is no item addressing scooters on the agenda, but the issue can be addressed during public comment, acording to the City Clerk.
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