Car rental agency

Launching the first electric scooter rental in Berkeley this week

Chicago-based micromobility company Veo plans to roll out 500 sit-and-stand electric scooters in Berkeley, starting May 19. It is the first of three companies that will launch their services in the city this month under new regulations for the industry. Credit: Sergio Ruiz, Veo

The first of three companies licensed to offer e-scooter and e-bike rentals in Berkeley will debut this week.

Micromobility company Veo is set to launch a fleet of black and teal scooters on Thursday, with a license to deploy up to 500 vehicles that customers can rent via a smartphone app under a set of passed city regulations Last year. Two other companies, Spin and Superpedestrian, are expected to roll out e-scooters and e-bikes later this month.

Chicago-based Veo will offer both standing and seated scooters, which are intended to provide a more stable option for riders who can’t or don’t want to stand for long periods of time. Customers will pay $1 to unlock the company’s devices, then 36 cents per minute while they drive, with discounts available for low-income residents.

Spin, which is owned by Ford Motor Company, has licenses for 400 scooters and 100 e-bikes, according to a memo sent to Berkeley City Council members last week. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Superpedestrian will offer up to 250 of its Link scooters.

Each company paid the city $15,000 for an annual permit, plus a $1,500 application fee and $64 per device.

See a rental scooter or bike parked illegally? You can report it directly to the lessor by phone or e-mail.

Scooters and bicycles will initially not be permitted on the UC Berkeley campus except along Gayley Road and Piedmont Avenue, university spokesman Dan Mogulof said. Cal plans to work with licensed rental companies to implement a campus-specific set of regulations, which could allow services to launch there in August.

A handful of unauthorized scooter and bike rentals appeared on the streets of Berkeley in 2018, when vehicles from companies such as Lime and Bird became commonplace in the Bay Area. These rentals ceased when Berkeley officials began work on what grew into a multi-year effort to develop a licensing process for micromobility companies; city ​​council approved the settlement in September.

Proponents say the vehicles provide another option for people to get around without needing a car – someone who lives a mile and a half from a BART station, for example, could ride a scooter there rather than driving or using a carpooling application. But the vehicles have also sparked complaints about drivers running past pedestrians on sidewalks or haphazard parking that can leave scooters blocking the paths of people with disabilities.

Berkeley’s rules aim to address industry concerns by requiring companies to post signs on every vehicle reminding customers not to ride on sidewalks, and requiring devices to be locked in an appropriate location, such as a bike racks, at the end of each trip. Rental companies must have a 24-hour hotline to take reports of improperly parked vehicles and remove them within three hours. Maximum vehicle speeds are capped at 15 miles per hour.