In Florida, e-scooter use is on the rise. Short, one to five-mile journeys can often take an hour or longer because of the inconvenience of it all. By contrast, stationless e-scooters are taking public streets by storm as a reliable way to complete short journeys while creating minimal pollution to the environment.
As cities wrestle with what the right public policy should be about their usage, riders must be concerned about safety issues.
While e-scooter companies like Spin and Lime are growing rapidly, they rely on a partnership model between the local city or town and the company to get permission for riders on their streets. Not every local authority is happy about the idea either. While bicycles often have their own lanes, there’s no such thing for e-scooters in many U.S. cities. They’re just too new.
Tampa Set to Accept E-Scooters in Late 2019
Presently, parts of South Florida, like Key Biscayne and a few areas within Miami, already accept e-scooters (Lime ones, mainly), Tampa is taking a slow, careful approach. They’ve opened the doors to applications from e-scooter companies that wish to operate in Tampa renting out rides in much the same way that Uber does.
Tampa plans to accept a total of 2,000 e-scooters on its roads. However, this comes with a caveat that several areas will only permit 300 scooters at one time, with the exception of the busy stretch between East Columbus Drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard, which has been expanded to 600 scooters. How they plan to regulate the numbers is still unclear.
Have E-Scooter; Will Travel. But Are They Safe?
While there will eventually be 180 areas approved for e-scooter use in Tampa, there is the question of how safe the scooters are to use on the roads and sidewalks? There have been cases in the U.S. of car drivers colliding with people riding on scooters who were protected by nothing more than a helmet, and perhaps some gloves and knee pads.
Currently, it’s only expected that e-scooters will be allowed to ride on sidewalks within Tampa. However, at some point, these scooters must cross a road, so the risk of having an accident is not completely removed. Also, if scooters aren’t forced to only ride in a designated bike or scooter lanes, then pedestrians who don’t have a protective helmet are put in the firing line.
Frustrations are Growing with E-Scooter Use
Not everyone is happy with e-scooters buzzing past them on the sidewalk or blocking up the roads. Some of the Lime and Bird scooters are having to be fished out of rivers and lakes because frustrated people are disposing of them. Tampa plans to restrict their speed to 8 MPH to avoid the worst that could happen, but this might not be enough.