Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Scooters will be coming to St. Pete. Scoot wisely. | Editorial

The City Council’s proposed ordinance sets reasonable restrictions that should improve safety.
Dustin Cullison 28, places Spin scooters Wednesday in a designated area for deployment on Zack Street in downtown Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Oct. 11

St. Petersburg is moving closer to embracing motorized scooters with a new ordinance on micromobility that the City Council appears poised to pass Thursday. After the messy roll-out of Tampa’s scooter program, there is reason to pay attention to and learn from those lessons. But the detailed restrictions and specific guidelines outlined in the ordinance offer hope that St. Peterburg’s scooter share system could kick off more smoothly and be more of an asset than an irritant.

Scooter riders ought to honor this mantra: “If used correctly, trouble will not ensue.” Across the country, scooters have caused public complaints and even deaths. But St. Peterburg’s strict proposed regulations provide a chance to reduce complaints and improve safety. Users will have to be 16 years old to use a scooter and can travel up to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. Scooters will not be allowed on public sidewalks or walkways. They will only be used in bike lanes, or on streets with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less, which covers most downtown streets. Certain areas of St. Petersburg will be off limits for scooters, like waterfront area from Demen’s Landing to Coffee Pot Park and the Pinellas Trail west of 34th Street.

Motorized scooters have the potential to be a safe, viable form of public transportation. St. Petersburg City Council members have often referenced the “first mile, last mile” phenomenon of transit, when someone may return home using public transportation to a stop that is too far from their house to travel on foot. The city plans to install about one scooter station per block in the most dense areas of the city and every one-eighth of a mile in less populated pockets. That strategy should allow for convenient scooter access for much of the city’s residents. Still, it’s important to note that St. Petersburg has already introduced a bike share program to modest success. There are an average of 150 rides a day on roughly 300 bikes docked around the city.

City officials have already encountered differing opinions on the controversial transportation tools. One debate centered on how late to keep scooters running. Those at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg noted that students liked to use them late at night, while downtown leaders asked for earlier end times. The city has settled on 10 p.m. as a stop time for scooters, which is not in the ordinance but will be a contractual requirement with scooter vendors. That choice will likely prove safer for city residents.

Although initial indications are positive, questions still remain about St. Pete’s scooter share roll-out. The city has yet to begin their bidding process for scooter vendors and their timeline is undefined. Scooters may be in the city early next year, but a previous city presentation said the city hoped to have had an ordinance approved and a bid process out by now. The City Council should move forward Thursday with this ordinance and be prepared to make adjustments as St. Petersburg adjusts to scooters.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Leonard Pitts undefined
    Don’t wall ourselves off from contradictory opinions, writes Leonard Pitts.
  2. President Donald Trump, right, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Nov. 2016 in Bedminster, N.J.
    Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
  3. (left to right) Nupar Godbole, medical student at USF, and Tiffany Damm, medical student at UCF, take part in a papaya workshop at the University of South Florida Medical Students for Choice Second Annual Florida Regional Conference held in the Morsani College of Medicine on February 24, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. Some of the instruments used in abortions, like the manual vacuum aspirator, are used in an exercise with a papaya, to simulate an abortion. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
  4.  LISA BENSON  |  Lisa Benson -- Washington Post Writers Group
  5. Exhaust rises from smokestacks in front of piles of coal in Thompsons, Texas. [Associated Press]
    A proposed rule masquerades as transparency when it actually is a favor to polluters.
  6. Using a tool provided by NOAA, this map shows what parts of the Tampa Bay region would be underwater if sea levels rose 8 feet, which could happen by 2100. NOAA
    The real-world impacts of climate change are accelerating for us in Tampa Bay.
  7. An architect's rendering of a foster care village proposed for Lake Magdalene. Ross Chapin Architects
    Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  8. Campbell Park Elementary School is one of the seven schools included in St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell's plan to help homeless students in the school system. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The City Council appears poised to help homeless families find places to live more quickly.
  9. Kimberly Clemons, 41, a resident of the Kenwood Inn, St. Petersburg receives a free Hepatitis A vaccination from Fannie Vaughn, a nurse with the Florida Department of Health Pinellas County, Tuesday, October 22, 2019. The health department has issued a state of emergency over the hepatitis A outbreak in Florida.  SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The strategy regarding vaccinations is working and benefits all residents.
  10. Fiberglass planters remain in place at Lykes Gaslight Square Park on Friday, July 5, 2019, five months after city workers removed all of its benches for refurbishing. There is still no sign of them returning. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
    Quit clogging up precious downtown green space.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement