Scooter Rental San Diego Guide (2022)

Electric Scooter Rental San Diego Guide

Written by Jesse C

Jesse is the proud owner of San Diego Onewheel Rentals, an athlete, and avid board sport enthusiast

March 8, 2022

With so many electric scooter rental apps out there like Bird, Lime, and Lyft, it’s hard to know the best places to rent an electric scooter in San Diego as well as the cost and regulations.

In today’s guide, I’ll briefly break down the pros and cons of each, their availability around town, as well as the cost of each, and where you can legally ride them. We will also explore the options of renting from a local shop instead of through the apps. Let’s get to it.

Quick Summary

  • The average price paid for an app-based electric scooter rental (Bird, Lime, Lyft, Link, Spin etc.) is $1 to start and .40 cents a minute thereafter, or $25 per hour
  • You must be 18 years or older to ride and upload a photo ID to the app as proof. You cannot unlock multiple scooters for multiple people using one account.
  • You must rent and return scooters to designated locations around San Diego, you can’t just leave them anywhere.
  • They are banned or geo-restricted in certain areas around town (geo-restricted meaning the scooter will automatically slow down or shut off completely if you enter a restricted zone on the map.
  • There is no law requiring you to wear a helmet while riding a scooter in San Diego but it is always a good idea.  No helmets are provided
  • Max speed of most scooters is around 18mph depending on the area
  • Most scooters have a recommended max weight limit of 220lbs
  • The average range of a fully charged electric scooter is 15-20 miles
  • You can rent from a local shop like us (San Diego Onewheel rentals) for half-day (4 hours) Full day (8-24 hours) or multiple days.  Our segway brand electric scooters fold up and are easily transportable, are not geo-restricted anywhere in San Diego, get 15-20 miles on a charge (charger included), have a max speed of 19mph, includes a helmet and lock, and are half the price of most app-based companies. Scooter tours are also available.
      • Prices are $39 half-day, $59 full day, and $49 per day for multiple days.  Pick up at Liberty Station Park or Delivery available.
      • To check up-to-date availability or reserve an electric scooter rental CLICK HERE or feel free to call us at 619-786-2614 with any questions or to reserve.

Electric Scooter Rentals in San Diego

Electric scooters have become a fun trend and a great way to explore a city in the last few years thanks to app-based companies like Bird, Lime, Lyft, and Uber showing up in cities across the country and leaving them everywhere around town.

Their business model and the process is simple, here’s how to rent

  1. Download the app and create an account
  2. Use the app to locate a scooter
  3. Scan its QR code
  4. Rent for as long as you want for a per-minute fee.
  5. When done, leave the scooter in a designated parking area and walk away

Although it’s convenient and fun for riders, these scooter rental companies have created issues in many cities and San Diego is no exception.

Unsafe riding, leaving scooters on private property, and general disrespect has caused the city of San Diego to ban or restrict their use in certain areas.

Let’s break down the pros and cons of each as well as their costs and availability.

Bird Scooters Tipped Over Pacific Beach

Bird Scooter Rentals

These guys were one of the originators of the app-based e-scooter trend and first to market in most cities.

Advantages

  • There are a lot around town and you can still find them in good numbers (around 3000 deployed) in popular spots like downtownBalboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Liberty Station, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla
  • Fairly well made with a limited top speed of 15mph and around 20 miles range depending on its charge
  • Headlights and tail lights so you can be seen

Disadvantages

  • Price, these scooters can get expensive fast. Costing $1 to start and .40 per minute after that.
  • Ride quality is poor. With small tires and little to no suspension, you feel every bump and crack
  • Scooters can be damaged, mechanically unsound, and have had issues with acceleration, braking properly, or maintaining speed
  • Slow or not powerful enough to go up hills
  • Speed restricted to 3mph using geofencing in many popular areas around town.
  • No safety gear or helmet provided which can be dangerous

Cost

Bird in San Diego charges $1 to start, $.39 per minute after, plus tax. That breaks down to a whopping $25 an hour so spending a half-day or 4 hours on one will set you back at least $100 bucks.  

For most people who are just looking to get from point A to point B, getting an Uber or Lyft car would be about the same price or possibly cheaper.

Electric Scooter rentals On Street San Diego

Lime Scooter Rentals

These guys are the other big players in town and you can usually find time sitting near or right next to the Bird scooters although there are fewer of them (around 1250 deployed). Lime’s rental process is nearly identical to the Birds.

Advantages

  • There are a lot around town as well and the rental process is quick and straightforward
  • I would argue the ride quality is slightly better than the birds with a bit better suspension and larger tires
  • Headlights and tail lights so you can be seen at all times

Disadvantages

  • The ride experience isn’t great, a bit of a rough ride
  • Some could be damaged with possible mechanical issues
  • Slow or not powerful enough to go up hills in most cases
  • Speed restricted to 3mph using geofencing in many popular areas around town
  • No safety gear or helmet provided which can be dangerous

Cost

Lime’s pricing is the same as Bird. $1 to start, .39 per minute after, or $25 per hour

Lyft Scooter Rentals

Lyft has reduced its scooter fleet in San Diego significantly, however, you can still find them around town. Look for the black and pink scooters.

Advantages

  • Better ride quality than the Birds with decent suspension and bigger tires.
  • Well made with a typical top speed of 15mph and around 20 miles range depending on its charge, most will not be fully charged and will have under 10 miles of range remaining
  • Headlights and tail lights so you can be seen

Disadvantages

  • Price, Lyft scooters are the same price as the Birds at $1 to start and $.39 per minute after
  • Less of them, these scooters have become harder and harder to find this past year
  • Physically and mechanically abused with possible issues with them working properly
  • Slow or not powerful enough to go up many hills
  • Speed restricted to 3mph using geofencing in many popular areas around town.
  • No safety gear or helmet provided which can be dangerous

Cost

Lyft scooters in San Diego cost the same as Birds at $1 to start, $.39 per minute after, plus tax. That breaks down again to $25 an hour so spending a half-day or 4 hours on one will set you back at least $100 bucks. 

Spin Scooter Rentals

Spin came in after the rest but have so far survived Covid and are still around town in limited numbers

Advantages

  • PRICE! Spin is the cheapest in town at $1 to start and $.20 per minute after
  • Solid build quality and a good ride
  • Headlights and tail lights so you can be seen

Disadvantages

  • Very hard to find, if you look at their app there seem to be less than 500 throughout the city
  • Some could be damaged and not work properly
  • Slow or not powerful enough to go up many hills
  • Speed restricted to 3mph using geofencing in many popular areas around town.
  • No safety gear or helmet provided which can be dangerous

Cost

Spin Scooters are the cheapest app-based option in town at $1 to start and $.20 per minute after. This is half the price of Bird and Lyft.  That breaks down to $12 per hour or $49 for a half-day (4 hours)

Spin Scooter Rentals On Street San Diego

Wheels Electric Bike Rentals

These aren’t scooters but I thought they should be included since they’re also an app base rental company and you’ll find them around town. These funky looking electric bikes operate in the same way the scooters do with a few exceptions.

Advantages

  • Sit instead of standing! Although these bikes don’t have pedals, it’s nice to be able to sit for long rides.
  • Powerful with a slightly higher top speed than the scooters
  • Headlights and tail lights so you can be seen
  • Option to rent monthly

Disadvantages

  • Limited quantities around town and are harder to find
  • Price isn’t the cheapest but they aren’t the most expensive either
  • Slow or not powerful enough to go up many hills
  • Speed restricted to 3mph using geofencing in many popular areas around town.
  • No safety gear or helmet provided which can be dangerous

Cost

Similar in price to a lot of the scooters these guys come in at $1 to start and $.32 per minute after.  This breaks down to about $20 per hour or $80 for a half-day (4 hours)

Wheels Electric Bike Rentals parked on street in San Diego

Renting from a Local Shop

There are a handful of local rental shops around town offering electric scooter rentals as an alternative to the app-based companies for longer rental periods.

Advantages

  • Price! This is a big one as local shops typically charge a fraction of what the app-based companies do. Here at San Diego Onewheel Rentals, we offer top of the line Segway Ninebot scooters for half-day, full-day, or multi-day options.
  • Quality. I can’t speak for other shops but you tend to get the best quality scooters renting locally.  With better suspension, higher top speeds, and longer battery life.
  • Delivery to your location or free pickup
  • No speed restrictions unlike the app-based scooters
  • More range (up to 20 miles)
  • Portability, you can fold them up and put them in your car, public transportation, etc
  • Safety gear included (helmets, knee pad, elbow pads, wrist guards)
  • Free lesson on how to use all the features
  • Charger and backpack included

Disadvantages

  • Can’t drop them off anywhere.  They will either need to be returned to the original rental location or will be picked up if you opted for the delivery
  • Eventually, they will need to be charged if you have them for a full day or longer

Cost

Shop prices around town vary but here at San Diego Onewheel Rentals, we charge a flat rate of $39 per half-day or $59 for a full day.  This is less than half the price of the app-based companies with the added advantages of a much higher quality scooter that’s yours to take anywhere without restrictions. Click here to schedule your rental.

Segway Ninebot Scooter Rentals by Mission Bay San Diego

Where Can You Legally Ride a Scooter in San Diego?

In short, almost anywhere!

The ban on electric devices put in place last year restricts you from riding on the boardwalks only in Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla.  As well as parts of Mission bay or on any sidewalk, you will need to use bike paths and bike lanes.

Also, you can no longer leave the scooters anywhere. Instead, they must be returned to one of the designated spots around town, the apps will direct you to those locations.

Here is a map of the restricted areas. As long as you follow these rules and regulations everything else is fair game!

Are helmets required?

Helmets are no longer required for anyone riding an electric scooter who is over the age of 18. However, they are highly recommended, and wearing one will be a requirement of many rental companies including us.  We provide free, high-quality helmets to all renters.

Can I ride on the sidewalk?

Electric bicycles and scooters are not allowed on sidewalks, you must use bike paths or bike lanes. Non-electric bikes are still fine to use on sidewalks in most cities with the exception of Escondido, El Cajon, Carlsbad, Vista, and National City where sidewalk cycling has been outlawed. Users are limited to one rider per bicycle or scooter.

Conclusion

You certainly have a lot of options when it comes to renting an electric scooter in San Diego.  I would say the best bang for the buck scooter rental app overall is Spin

If price and quality are high on your list, consider renting from a local shop like San Diego Onewheel Rentals instead of through an app. Click here to check rental availability.

We rent top of the line Segway Ninebot scooters with a max speed of 18mph, a range of 20 miles on a charge, bright headlights and taillights, and portability.

We also include a backpack, safety gear, lock, and basic instruction with every rental.

Whoever you decide to go with, always remember to please wear a helmet and stay safe out there.  Have other questions you’d like answered? Please comment below and I’ll be sure to answer them!

Reserve your scooter today

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