These Sidewalk Stencils Aim To Curb LA Scooter Scofflaws' Bad Riding

LADOT has stenciled more than 40 of these messages on sidewalks in the city's 5th District as part of a pilot program within a pilot program to raise more awareness of scooter rules. (Courtesy City Councilman Paul Koretz's office)

It's against the law to ride electric scooters on sidewalks in Los Angeles. A ticket for doing so will set you back $197, according to the L.A. Department of Transportation.

But spend any time in scooter-filled neighborhoods and you'll see that plenty of riders either didn't get the message, or are choosing not to abide by it.

Irresponsible and illegal sidewalk riding was a common concern among LAist readers when we asked you to share your scooter feelings in June.

"As a pedestrian, I've been nearly barreled over by scooters flying down the sidewalks," reader Tory told us, "but it's equally terrifying to see scooters flying down the streets in between parked cars and moving cars... it's wild out here!"

LADOT has stenciled more than 40 of these messages on sidewalks in the city's 5th District as part of a pilot program within a pilot program. (Courtesy Los Angeles Department of Transportation)

So, city leaders and transit officials are now taking the "stay off the sidewalk" messaging to the streets — literally.

In the city's 5th District — which includes Fairfax, Cheviot Hills and Westwood — LADOT workers have stencilled more than 40 images on sidewalks that read: "No E-Scooter Riding On Sidewalk - It's The Law."

Many of them can be found on Third Street from La Cienega to Fairfax and more are slated for sidewalks along Melrose Avenue and Beverly Boulevard this month.

This pilot-program-within-a-pilot-program was kickstarted by City Councilman Paul Koretz, who has frequently voiced his concern about L.A.'s "e-scooter explosion," even calling for a citywide ban last summer before regulations were enacted. He said he requested the sidewalk messaging from LADOT out of concern for pedestrian safety.

"I would be thrilled to see e-scooters banned until we have an adequate bicycle / e-scooter lane infrastructure for them," he said in a statement this week. "In the meantime, I am hoping these decals can alleviate some of the e-scooter danger occurring in my district."

The goal is to raise awareness of the law, but it might be more accurate to call this push an additional layer of awareness — similar "no sidewalk riding" messages already appear on every scooter and e-bike, as required under the city's dockless mobility pilot program.

LADOT requires scooter and e-bike companies to display "No riding on sidewalks" messaging on every vehicle operating in the city. (Photos courtesy Los Angeles Department of Transportation)

But knowing the rules is different from enforcement. And with more than 20,000 scooters and e-bikes dotting L.A.'s streets and sidewalks, awareness only goes so far without it. So far, the LAPD's enforcement efforts have been "underwhelming," according to Alison Simard, a spokeswoman for Koretz's office, who said the councilman has asked the department to be more responsive.

"In the meantime, making sure people know the rules they are breaking is the first deterrent," Simard added.

So just how many tickets have actually been written so far?

Back in May, LAist requested data on the number of tickets LAPD officers issued to scooter riders for sidewalk riding. The city's public records office told us then that they could not provide that information, explaining that because "scooters are not registered vehicles, this is not information currently collected or tracked by the Department."

But LADOT had better luck this week. From the beginning of 2019 through April 27, a total of 118 tickets were issued citywide, according to LADOT spokeswoman Nora Frost, though it's unclear how many of those were for e-scooters compared to e-bikes. The majority of tickets were issued by the LAPD's West Traffic Division, which patrols neighborhoods including Hollywood, Mid-City and scooter-rich Venice. More recent ticketing figures were not immediately available.

For some context, LADOT reported about 1 million rides were taken in the first official month of the pilot program (April 15 to May 15), so your suspicions that most scooter scofflaws are getting away with bad riding is well-founded.