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Bird, Jump, Lime and Lyft scooters get Santa Monica's approval

But the electric scooters will be banned from the beach and parks.

Santa Monica, California, endorses rentable electric scooters and bikes, but with some caveats.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

You may see shared electric scooters and bikes with four different logos in Santa Monica soon, just not on the beach or in parks.

The California city on Thursday selected Bird, Jump, Lime and Lyft as the four companies for its shared mobility pilot program starting Sept. 17. Each company is granted an initial 750 vehicles.

"The selected companies bring a wide range of local, national and international experience that will contribute to a comprehensive and informative pilot program," David Martin, director of planning and community development of Santa Monica, said in a press release. "The City looks forward to working closely with each of these operators to identify innovative solutions that help create a viable, well-operated long-term shared mobility program in Santa Monica."

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This comes after the companies raced to get a spot in Santa Monica. Bird and Lime temporarily stopped their scooter services earlier this month in protest of the city's recommendation that preferred Lyft and Uber-owned Jump for the pilot program.

Bird and Lime each can have 750 scooters operating in the city, while Jump and Lyft each can have 250 scooters and 500 bikes. That number can increase or decrease based on their utilization and performance, according to the city.

Bird was the first dockless scooter rental company to launch in the US and it kicked off its service in Santa Monica in September 2017. It's had an up-and-down relationship with the city, which included the City Attorney's Office filing a complaint on nine criminal counts against the startup in December. But things seem to have calmed down since then.

Upon getting a permit to operate in the city, Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden said, "Bird is committed to providing Santa Monica residents and visitors the accessible, equitable, and responsible transportation option that they deserve."

Uber, Lyft and Lime also said they're pleased with the news. Lime CEO Toby Sun said, "We are grateful for Santa Monica's transparent process and collaborative approach."

An Uber spokeswoman said, "Our ultimate goal is to reduce reliance on personal cars, and we believe the best way to do that is to offer multiple modes of transportation -- scooters, bike, cars, public transit and more -- in one app."

And Lyft's bike and scooter policy lead Caroline Samponaro said, "The city's decision to collaborate with Lyft deepens a partnership that will reduce vehicle congestion, increase public transportation trips and provide equitable transportation solutions to all residents of Santa Monica."

While Santa Monica is allowing the scooters to stay on city streets for now, the city is cracking down on sidewalk riding. It passed new rules this week that prohibit all electric and motorized vehicles, including e-scooters and e-bikes, from beach bike paths, the pier and in city parks. The city will also charge the scooter and bike companies a "right-of-way" fee of $1 for each vehicle used every day. Revenue from this fee will be used on city improvements like expanding sidewalks and green lanes.

The City of Santa Monica declined to comment beyond the releases.

First published Aug. 30, 3:24 p.m. PT.
Update, 6:35 p.m.: Adds additional background information and comments from Bird, Lyft, Uber and Lime.

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