CLEARWATER — Residents who've been waiting for their chance to rent a motorized scooter in the city will have to wait a bit longer.
At a meeting last week, the City Council voted unanimously to put a 180-day moratorium on micromobility initiatives like the scooter sharing programs that have cropped up in cities all over the country in recent years.
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The reason? Officials want a chance to craft regulations.
This legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed a law that gave cities a general framework for how to deal with scooters. Absent special rules, scooters are to be treated the same as bicycles, the law says.
City Council members seemed to think the scooters would require special rules.
Among the questions that the city needs to answer, according to Council member Jay Polglaze: How fast can motorized scooters go? Where can they travel? Can they coexist with bicycles and pedestrians?
Richard Hartman, Clearwater's transportation planner, said he planned to study how other cities have regulated the micromobility industry, then get guidance from the city council on how to craft rules. The 180-day moratorium would also temporarily ban the use of privately owned motorized scooters, Hartman said.
Once all of the research is in, it's possible that the city could elect to ban micromobility devices altogether.
"Ultimately, I don't know if it's going to even be something that works well for our community," Council member Hoyt Hamilton said. "But we'll have to wait and see."