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Commission puts brakes on e-scooters; students ready to ride

By Bria Wesley | Staff Reporter
On March 14, 2019

E-scooters are popular in several states, but Tallahassee isn’t ready hop on the craze.
Bria Wesley | The Famuan

Several times during the school year, Cory Smith has relied on rented bicycles as his means of transportation. He’d like to join the e-scooter craze, but can’t while he is a student in Tallahassee.

At least not right now anyway, while the City Commission decides the fate of a proposal for bringing rental e-scooters to the city.

“For me, it helps with my commute time, that’s the biggest thing,” said Smith. “My forms of transportation take a huge chunk out of my day.”

City commissioners decided last Wednesday that they’d delay making a decision on a pilot run before further considering allowing e-scooters to operate in the city. The decision came after about 15 minutes of discussion on safety, infrastructure and pedestrians sharing sidewalks with the scooters.

During an update given to commissioners by staff, Cherie Bryant said FSU, FAMU and TCC would be interested in having the e-scooters on their campuses. However, they expressed concern about the scooters being charged in dormitories.

Commissioner Jeremy Matlow suggested a three-month pilot before making a decision on whether the e-scooters would be a good fit.

“We want people to be safe and have the free will to ride their bikes (and) scooters, but safety is priority,” said Matlow, adding that safety would be an issue without a designated area for scooters.

“It poses the question, where exactly would be the safer places to ride,” Matlow said.

Meanwhile, college students like Smith wait.

“I find difficulty in not having a car or other modes of transportation because it hinders much of my daily and weekly activities,” said Smith. “Seeing Tallahassee develop this would aid me and other residents traveling in the city.” Should Tallahassee move ahead by accepting any of the six proposals that have been presented, it would join hundreds of cities around the country where e-scooters currently operate. Two of the leading companies, Lime and Bird, also boast having international operations.

At least two other companies have submitted proposals to the city. Some of the proposals range from 50 to 400 scooters, costing $1 to rent plus 15 to 20 cents per minute.

While the cost isn’t prohibitive to students like I’yanna Baker, who attends FSU, she agrees that the city should have an ordinance in place.

“For a place like Tallahassee, it won’t hurt to have if proper procedures are put in place,” said Baker. “I think sidewalk traffic and accidents may happen, if people aren’t aware and careful.

“You also can’t beat being energy efficient. There should be thorough research to reduce any incidents with pedestrians.”

Advocates of the e-scooters are calling it one of the ways for cleaner environment and reduce the number of cars on the streets.

State laws don’t allow e-scooters. However, there are two bills in the legislature that could set some guidelines for how the cities moves forward, but there is no timeline when either of the bills could come up in session.

So the city waits.

“Instead of saying no, let’s say not now,” said Mayor John Dailey. “Let’s revisit in a month because we might have more clarification with partnerships and universities, and other regulations.”

 

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