By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX) – San Jose is the first place in the world to test out new e-scooter technology that can detect if someone is riding on the sidewalk or the street.

“The texture of a sidewalk is very different from the texture of asphalt,” said EV Ellington, Lime’s Northern California manager.

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Ellington said it’s a pilot program that’s rolling out first in San Jose. The technology collects data from the scooter’s accelerometer, speedometer and a vibration feedback profile to determine what surface the rider is using.

“It can detect up to 95 percent of the time whether or not a user is on the sidewalk or the road,” Ellington said.

There are many scooters on the streets of San Jose, and quite a few on the sidewalks too.

“I use the sidewalk to actually traverse the traffic because of all the crazy drivers,” said Pedro Godinez, who rides a scooter to and from San Jose State University.

Last year, Mayor Sam Liccardo challenged scooter companies to use technology to solve the problem of riders hitting pedestrians on the sidewalks, instead of just banning them.

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“We know scooters are something we will need in our transportation tool box now and in the future, so let’s find a way to integrate it into our city, make sure it’s safe, instead of declaring war on it,” Liccardo said.

Lime says at first, violators will just be given a warning.

“If you ride more than 50 percent of the time on a sidewalk, at the end of your trip, you might get a message saying hey, you were on the sidewalk, that’s against state regulations,” said Ellington.

But repeat offenders could be fined or be kicked off the platform.

“You might lose some customers like myself. If you’re going to implement technology like that, I’m probably not going to be using your scooters as much,” said Godinez.

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There are 5 scooter companies operating in San Jose. All of them will be coming up with their own technology to deter riders from using them on the sidewalks.