1. Transportation

Is an electric scooter the same as a bike? Florida law says yes, trail users say no

A sign on the Pinellas Trail in Clearwater makes it clear that motorized vehicles are not allowed. But what about electric scooters? [ROMY ELLENBOGEN | Times]
Published Jul. 3

Along the Pinellas Trail, the signs say it in all caps: "NO MOTOR VEHICLES."

Still, electric bikes zip by. Those who need disability access can take their motorized wheelchairs or other devices, even golf carts, along the way.

And soon, electric scooters from one-word companies like Lime, Bird, Spin and Jump may be vying for space.

With developing technology and Florida law, a banned motor vehicle may not be what people think, said Lyle Fowler, operations manager for Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Management.

RELATED: No scooter rentals in Clearwater, for now

He said they have to look to state statutes for guidance, which defines electric bicycles the same as regular bikes. But that doesn't mean people are happy about it.

"There are some folks who are very strict in their interpretation, their perception of how anything with a motor is beyond the conventional bicycle," he said.

A new state law approved in June also gives micro-mobility devices, like scooters, the same allowances as a bicycle. The law gives local ordinances the chance to regulate differently, which inspired Clearwater officials to put a hold on any electric scooters for six months while they draft out their plan.

ALSO READ: Electric scooters can now ride in Tampa streets and bike lanes

Brian Smith, chairman of the Pinellas County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, said though they realize electric bikes have limited speed and power, scooters are entirely different because they aren't powered by a person. He fears it's a safety risk to the slower cyclists and pedestrians who are predominant users of the trail.

"A scooter is not prepared to stop or do evasive action to avoid an accident like a bike or a pedestrian can," Smith said.

Janet Carroll, 60, likes to walk up and down the trail and meets at a gazebo along the way with friends. She said she's shocked the scooters have been allowed elsewhere and finds them dangerous, pointing to the recent death of a man in Tampa killed after being hit while riding a scooter. She worries about them zipping all over the trail.

"We already have so many pedestrians, bicycles, I just worry they're going to get hurt," she said.

Along with safety issues, Smith said the Pinellas Trail and similar trails around the county weren't made for scooters. They were intended to be a safe haven for people who wanted to walk their dogs or ride their bikes.

Mari Watkins, a Clearwater resident, said she likes to take her dog Kiki, a 2-year-old Bichon Frise, for walks along the beach. While on the trail, she said, the dog gets scared enough of regular bicycles, let alone a scooter speeding by. She said the trail is meant for people exercising, not cruising by.

"You're sitting in your motor scooter, you're not exercising," she said.

Contact Romy Ellenbogen at or Follow @Romyellenbogen.


  1. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  2. In this April 24, 2019, photo, American Airlines aircraft are shown parked at their gates at Miami International Airport in Miami. A bail hearing is scheduled for a mechanic charged with sabotaging an American Airlines jetliner as part of a labor dispute. Prosecutors are seeking pretrial detention for 60-year-old Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani at a hearing Wednesday. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    His arraignment on a sabotage-related charge is scheduled for Friday; if convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
  3. Female driver texting on mobile phone while driving. STAR TRIBUNE  |  baona/Star Tribune/TNS
    Police are choosing to issue warnings instead of tickets — so far.
  4. The Hillsborough County Commission listens to a briefing in June about the lawsuit challenging the county's one-cent transportation sales tax. On Wednesday, reacting to a judge's ruling in that case, commissioners voted to restore the guidelines originally approved by voters on how the tax should be spent. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
    Commissioner Stacy White, who is challenging the tax in court, was the only “no” vote.
  5. Tampa has a pilot program underway to test scooters. Clearwater could soon have one of its own. But if it's limited to downtown, who will use it? CHRIS URSO  |   Times
    The city’s plan is coming into focus, but there will be limitations.
  6. A study found that two of the worst intersections in the country for running red lights are in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Times
    Two intersections are among the worst for running red lights
  7. Florida Department of Transportation workers inspect damage to the Interstate 175 overpass at Sixth Street S caused by a roll-off dumpster truck that left its hydraulic arm upright, according to St. Petersburg police. The incident sent concrete falling onto Sixth Street S below. Courtesy St. Petersburg Police Department
    Sixth Street S from Fourth Avenue S to Fifth Avenue S will be closed for up to three weeks for repairs, state officials say.
  8. Pasco County plans to reduce bus service to central Pasco. The route began in May 2017. Handout
    The cuts eliminate Saturday service and a route along Collier Parkway.
  9. Check for the latest breaking news and updates.
    His infant daughter suffered life-threatening injuries, officials said.
  10. Hillsborough County will dedicate about $1 million each school year to employ crossing guards at all 43 of its public middle schools. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times (2014)]
    While the board’s new Democratic majority fought for modest increases in taxes and fees next fiscal year, the commission voted Thursday night to forego any changes to the millage rate.