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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill giving green light to electric scooters

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 1:24 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO CRED: LIME
  • Photo cred: Lime
Prepare your (electric-powered scooter) engines.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill – HB 453 – that legalizes electric scooters in Florida. It went into effect immediately, allowing companies such as Lime, Bird and Uber's Jump Scooters to operate statewide, with local jurisdictions in charge of further regulation.

"Gov. DeSantis' signing of HB 453 is a win for micro-mobility and equitable transportation access for all," says Lime Florida government affairs manager Vivian Myrtetus in a statement provided to Orlando Weekly. "The legislation provides clarity to municipalities about the legality of e-scooters and we look forward to continuing to work with cities throughout the state of Florida to meet residents' demand for a reliable and affordable transportation option."

The House version of the bill was sponsored by state Rep. Jackie Toledo, D-Tampa. State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, was the Senate sponsor.

The legislation's passage comes on the heels of the city of Tampa launching its electric scooter pilot program in May, which has so far included four vendors: Spin, Jump, Bird and Lime.

City of Orlando officials previously told us that they're not currently interested in implementing electric scooters at the local level.

In January, Billy Hattaway, the city's transportation director, said the city "isn't interested in scooters right now," as officials work out any ongoing kinks involving the local bike-sharing system.

"We made the decision when we put the [dockless] ordinance together that we would not consider scooters from anyone, including Lime, for a year," Hattaway said. "People keep asking. Of course Lime talked to us, and we said we would like to see how you operate your system, how you deal with customer complaints, how you deal with citizen complaints for a year before we consider your scooter system."

Electric scooters are a hotly debated issue in many cities that have been using them for more than a few months. In January, the San Diego Reader reported "scooter riders flooding emergency rooms," while Consumer Reports links electric scooters to eight deaths. Yesterday, the city council of Chattanooga, Tennessee, pushed an ordinance to pre-emptively ban them for six months, based on accidents reported in Memphis and Nashville.

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