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St. Petersburg welcomes electric scooters

The scooters, from companies Razor and Veo, could hit the streets in September or October.
Electric scooter shares are coming to St. Petersburg, after City Council on Thursday approved an agreement with companies Razor and Veo.
Electric scooter shares are coming to St. Petersburg, after City Council on Thursday approved an agreement with companies Razor and Veo. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Aug. 20, 2020
Updated Aug. 21, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Electric scooters are on their way to St. Petersburg.

City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a pilot agreement with scooter share companies Razor and Veo, who will be dropping off up to 225 scooters each in the Sunshine City. Look for them to hit the streets in September or October.

Related: St. Petersburg is getting scooters. But there will be rules.

Once the program is ramped up, the city could host up to 1,500 of the devices, which is about the number of scooters deployed in Tampa.

However, St. Petersburg’s program is going to look different from Tampa’s and other cities across the country. Fearful of abandoned scooters strewn across St. Petersburg’s busy downtown sidewalks, the city is establishing corrals all over downtown and along Central Avenue where scooter drop-offs will be mandatory.

It’s been a long journey for the alternative mode of transportation in St. Petersburg. Debate on the issue began last year, and City Council approved an ordinance to govern the operation of scooters. One of the key restrictions is that scooters cannot ride on sidewalks as they can in other cities.

Related: Scooters are back on Tampa streets after coronavirus shelved them for seven weeks

In the meantime, Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration began evaluating scooter companies, before COVID-19 forced it to hit pause. Of the eight companies that expressed interest in St. Petersburg, the city ultimately chose Razor and Veo.

Among the virtues of those two companies, said city Transportation and Parking Management Director Evan Mory, is that the scooter batteries can be swapped. Other scooter companies will pick up scooters each night in vans and plug them in at a warehouse. Veo and Razor can charge the batteries off site and can even do swaps on scooters, reducing emissions.