A new San Francisco startup offering a subscription based scooter sharing service is running into difficulties with California’s licensing laws. The company, Scoot Networks, was introduced earlier this month, and would allow users to sign up for the service and check out scooters on an as needed basis from a variety of locations throughout the Bay Area. Unfortunately, it’s currently unclear whether the subscription service would require participants to have an M2 endorsement before they’d be able to operate one of the scooters.
As it stands, anyone with a valid driver’s license is allowed to rent a scooter for up to 48 hours. However, if Scoot Networks were to operate as an ongoing subscription, it’s uncertain whether the DMV would allow customers wishing to utilize the service on a continuing basis to take advantage of this exemption.
Scoot Networks CEO Michael Keating says he’s eager to ensure the company is in compliance with California vehicle code. In an interview with SF Appeal, Keating stated, “We’re not getting more, cheaper cabs, we’re not getting better Muni…the reason I started this business is because I’m a big environmentalist, not because I’m trying to find a loophole in the law and turn it into a lucrative rental business. This business is grounded in making this city a better place to live.”
Naturally, the company has received a fair number of comparisons to the car sharing service Zipcar. But, because riding a scooter is less familiar to many users than driving a car, Scoot Networks puts an emphasis on face to face interaction, making sure each individual is comfortable riding the scooter before sending them off on their maiden voyage. In some cases, new riders are even accompanied by an experienced user on their first ride.
At this point it’s undetermined whether Scoot Networks will be able to branch out and offer long term subscriptions without requiring that its customers obtain an M2. Still, if that does turn out to be the case, Keating says the company will do what it can to help.
Edit: As stated above, customers wishing to rent a scooter for 48 hours or less do not need an M2 endorsement.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bricolage108/197883988/