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  1. Opinion

Editorial: Keep an eye on Tampa scooters

CHRIS URSO  |   Times Ryan Cummings, 23, of Tampa, left, and Alex Frey, 25, also of Tampa, rent Spin electric scooters Tuesday from a corral located along Zack Street in Tampa.
CHRIS URSO | Times Ryan Cummings, 23, of Tampa, left, and Alex Frey, 25, also of Tampa, rent Spin electric scooters Tuesday from a corral located along Zack Street in Tampa.
Published May 31, 2019

That didn't take long. Only days after descending on the city, electric scooters already have created a problem on the streets of Tampa, with people riding them in banned areas and parking them thoughtlessly across sidewalks and entry ways. It's clear the city and the scooter companies have work to do in ensuring that this transportation novelty doesn't become a public nuisance.

The scooters arrived a week ago, with people taking several thousand trips during the Memorial Day weekend. But Tampa transportation director Jean Duncan said problems have already arisen, with people entering no-ride zones, including the Riverwalk and Bayshore Boulevard, and dropping the scooters haphazardly across sidewalks and common areas.

The companies are responding by tweaking their technology to bring scooters to a stop in banned areas and by creating no-park zones. The city is also approving more corrals across the city to keep parked scooters from blocking the sidewalks. While scooters are currently restricted to sidewalks, a bill awaiting action by Gov. Ron DeSantis would also allow local governments to expand their use to streets and bike paths. That's a more appropriate environment for vehicles that can travel up to 15 mph, and which are designed for longer-haul trips than those taken by the average pedestrian.

Tampa's one-year experiment will test the city's resolve and the scooter companies' good faith. If necessary, the city should expand the no-ride zones to protect pedestrians in already-crowded sidewalks and parks. Riders also need to be conscientious and responsible. If this is all asking too much, it will be obvious soon enough.