Advertisement
  1. News

Electric scooters can now ride in Tampa streets and bike lanes

Dustin Cullison 28, places Spin scooters Wednesday in a designated area for deployment on Zack Street in downtown Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Jun. 19

TAMPA — All those people zipping around Tampa sidewalks on electric scooters can now legally ride them in city streets and bike lanes, greatly expanding choices for a program that is being closely watched by governments around Tampa Bay.

The scooters, which are not supposed to go faster than 15 mph, were limited to sidewalks until Gov. Ron Desantis signed a bill this week lifting the restriction. They are meant to help people get to destinations that are too far to walk, but not far enough to merit a car trip. Riders rent the scooters through an app on their smart phone.

Not everyone is thrilled with the new flexibility. Some riders worry about having to depend on drivers for their safety, a lament often heard from local bicyclists. Some don't think the scooters are safe in any circumstance.

"I don't think they should be on streets at all," said Tampa resident Robin Miskel, 38, who said her father broke his kneecap when he tripped over a scooter in California.

Timur Cachia-Aydin, 31, said he is glad scooters will be allowed on roads in a city that lacks good public transportation. But he worries about liability.

"If I'm on a scooter and get hurt due to a mechanical issue, are the companies or the City of Tampa liable?" he asked.

Vivian Myrtetus, the government affairs manager for the Florida branch of Lime, one of four companies renting scooters in Tampa, called the bill signing "a win." She said it provides clarity to municipalities looking to offer the scooters, which have found a market in a number of cities around the United States.

The new rides were rolled out here in May as part of a year-long pilot program. Around 170 scooters are now in operation, said Jean Duncan, the city's transportation director. That number could grow to as many as 2,400 during the pilot.

Data on whether riders are obeying speed limits is still being collected, Duncan said. But there have been problems. During the first weeks of operation, people were spotted riding the scooters in banned areas, such as the Tampa Riverwalk, or parking them haphazardly and blocking sidewalks and entryways.

Scooters are required to be docked in specific locations called "corrals." Duncan said the city is hoping for a maximum of 240 corrals. No-ride zones include the Riverwalk, Bayshore Boulevard and East Seventh Street in Ybor City.

Duncan said she's been pleasantly surprised at the relatively small number of complaints she's received so far. That could change by Aug. 1, she acknowledged, when she meets with the Tampa City Council to discuss citizen grievances.

"We just really want to keep the message out there that we want this program to stay but it takes a safe management of it," Duncan said.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican and one of the bill's sponsors, said the bill provides cities with local control over how and where the scooters can be used.

"We wanted to make sure of that because this is a new and evolving technology,'' he said.

While details of the city's operating agreements with the scooter companies can change, Duncan expects their access to Tampa's roads and bike lanes to remain.

But hopefully, she said, riders will choose low-speed streets.

○ Contact Amanda Zhou at azhou@tampabay.com. Follow @amondozhou.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm advisory for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Tropical Storm Karen currently has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. National Weather Service
    A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for the eastern Caribbean
  2. A Thomas Cook plane on the tarmac at Gatwick Airport in Sussex, England Monday. British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday after failing to secure emergency funding, leaving tens of thousands of vacationers stranded abroad. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP) STEVE PARSONS  |  AP
    The collapse of the firm will have sweeping effects across the entire European and North African tourism industry and elsewhere.
  3. Natalie D'Alessandro and Izaac Deal break out into dance during the inaugural Pride Festival in 2018 in downtown New Port Richey. BY MICHELE MILLER  |  Michele Miller, Times Staff
    New Port Richey gathering will feature a week of lead-up events.
  4. When police officers arrived at the home, they found the man dead from an apparent gunshot wound on the back patio of the house. Port St. Lucie Police Department/Facebook
    The man called dispatchers late Saturday to say he had fatally shot his wife and her boyfriend, and that there were two children inside the home.
  5. Dear Penny: Will bad credit kill my chances of landing my dream job? FRANCESCORIDOLFI.COM  |  Getty Images/iStockphoto
    Be up front about your circumstances.
  6. Don Green of St. Petersburg demonstrates a hamstring stretch. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    These muscles are important. A few key exercises can help you get them - and keep them - in shape.
  7. FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2012, file photo, Hunter Biden waits for the start of the his father's, Vice President Joe Biden's, debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. In 2014, then-Vice President Joe Biden was at the forefront of American diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine's fragile democratic government as it sought to fend off Russian aggression and root out corruption. So it raised eyebrows when Biden's son Hunter was hired by a Ukrainian gas company. President Donald Trump prodded Ukraine's president to help him investigate any corruption related to Joe Biden, now one of the top Democrats seeking to defeat Trump in 2020. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    The younger Biden’s business role raised concerns among anticorruption advocates that Burisma was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration.
  8. Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes has another $500,000 for an East Tampa cultural center, courtesy of the Hillsborough County Commission. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Octavio Jones
    The Hillsborough County Commission voted unanimously to give the money for the planned facility at Al Barnes Park.
  9. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks to board his plane at London's Heathrow Airport as he heads off for the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sunday Sept. 22, 2019. STEFAN ROUSSEAU                       |  AP
    Britain had previously held back from attributing blame for the drone and missile attack. Saudi Arabia and the United States say Iran was responsible, something Tehran denies.
  10. President Donald Trump speaks during an event with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Pratt Industries, Sunday, Sept 22, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    Trump will try to convince skeptical global capitals to help build a coalition to confront Tehran after the United States blamed it for last week’s strike at an oil field in Saudi Arabia.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement