E-Bike and E-Scooter Rules and Rental Options in Santa Monica

E-Scooter on the California Incline

Everywhere you look, you see people enjoying their time in Santa Monica. From sun-filled days at the beach to views from high aboard the Pacific Wheel at Pacific Park, there’s a lot to love about this sunny West Coast city.

You also see people coasting along on electric bikes and scooters. These two- and three-wheeled mobility devices have taken off across the city, with several companies now offering access for locals and visitors alike.

If you’re not familiar with these electric devices, though, you might not know how to rent or use them and what e-scooter rules you need to follow.

Why Are E-Scooters and E-Bikes So Common in Santa Monica?

E-scooters and e-bikes are available for rent because of a shared mobility services program. During the pilot program, which ran from 2017 to 2019, riders spent most of their time downtown and on the beach. Statistics showed that nearly 30% of rides were work-related, while 26% were reserved for recreation, 14% for dining, and 8% for shopping trips.

Santa Monica began the second phase of the program in 2021, intending to offer even more low-emission, low-cost ways to get around.

You might already catch rides on the Big Blue Bus, Expo, and Metro lines, or you might hit the beach paths on your rollerblades or skateboard. For street access, though, these electric devices give you the best way to get from point A to point B. Plus, they are inexpensive and fun to ride!

What Companies Offer Electric Bike and Electric Scooter Rental in Santa Monica?

Santa Monica works with four private companies as part of the shared mobility program, including:

  1. Lyft. This ride-share company also dips its toes into the e-bike business. They offer Class 1 e-bike rentals starting at $1.00 to unlock and adds $0.34 for each minute afterward.
  2. Veo. Startup company Veo offers Class 2 e-bikes and two-wheeled standup e-scooters for rental. You can rent a mobility device for $1.00 to unlock and add $0.33 for each minute. If you park the device in the geofenced zone, you’ll receive a $1.00 credit as a thank-you.
  3. Spin. This company offers e-scooters in two-wheeled and three-wheeled designs, giving you more options for your Santa Monica journey. Rentals start at $1.00 to unlock and add $0.39 per minute of use.
  4. Wheels. Newer startup Wheels is in the business of renting out sit-down e-scooters, a distinction that helps them stand out from other companies in the program. You can get a two-wheeled e-scooter for $1.00 to unlock and add $0.39 for each minute.

How Do You Rent and Use These Devices?

Renting and using these mobility devices is easy! The first step is to download the app for the scooter: Lyft, Spin, Wheels, or Veo. All apps are available for download on Google Play or the Apple store.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, create your profile and add your payment method. If you aren’t standing next to the bike or scooter you want to ride, you need to find the closest one using the in-app Find feature.

Your next step is to scan the QR code on the e-bike or e-scooter. Each device has a unique code that identifies it in the system, unlocking it for your use only.

To ride the device, follow the instructions provided in the app. In most cases, you’ll flip the power switch, kick off with your foot, and adjust the throttle on the handlebars. Some devices may have a hand brake, while others may use a foot brake.

Finish your ride by locating one of the 175+ designated spaces. If you can’t find the parking zones, you can park your device in a furniture area of the sidewalk or near a street light or utility pole. Then, put the kickstand down, end your ride in the app, and go on your way.

Important Electric Bike and Electric Scooter Rules to Know

E-bike and e-scooter rules help everyone stay safe.

  • Wear a helmet. Although city ordinance only requires that you wear a helmet if you’re 18 or younger, it’s a safe practice for everyone. Protect your head and wear a helmet.
  • Have a valid driver’s license. You must have a valid driver’s license or instruction permit to ride an e-scooter, but you don’t need one for an e-bike.
  • Be 16 or older. For e-scooters and e-bikes, you need to be at least 16 years old to rent a ride.
  • Ride where allowed. You’re not allowed to ride on the sidewalk, Pier Bridge, Ocean Front Walk, or 3rd Street Promenade when riding an electric bike or scooter. While you can ride an e-bike on the beach path, you can’t take an e-scooter there.
  • Obey street signs, lights, and roadway instructions, and yield to pedestrians. You can get a ticket if you don’t obey the rules of the road. Avoid the ticket and save your money for the fun stuff—like Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier!

Feature image courtesy of @polo_photoart.

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