CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Clearwater could be the next city in Tampa Bay to add electric scooters to the downtown area.
City leaders are expected to vote in November on a one year pilot program for the rental scooters.
The city is making some strict rules to go along with the micro-scooter launch including: They won't be allowed on sidewalks, which is something Clearwater decided after seeing some of the issues scooters are causing with pedestrians in Tampa, they will only go up to 15 mph fast, they will only be allowed on streets where the speed limit is less than 30 mph or less. The scooters will also only work in the downtown area and will turn off once they leave the GPS boundaries.
Clearwater would also restrict the rented electric scooters to adults older than 18.
The decision to move forward on creating a pilot program comes after the city passed a 6-month moratorium on the scooters back in June. City leaders wanted time to brainstorm and research the idea.
The scooters work similar to docked rental bikes. When a rider finds a scooter, they can open the app on their phone, and scan the QR code to unlock the scooter and start riding.
Most companies charge $1 to unlock the scooter. From there, it costs between 10 to 30 cents per minute.
Clearwater is also looking into a central corral area for the scooters to be placed, rather than having the scooters littered around the ground and street waiting for the next rider.
Florida lawmakers have also added their own rules to dictate how electric scooters are used. House Bill 453, signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in June, gives electric scooter riders the same right as bicyclists.
City leaders believe the scooters could help bring more business downtown, especially as they plan a redesign of the downtown waterfront called Imagine Clearwater.
“All of that will be enhanced by the ability to just jump on a scooter and go a couple blocks without having to find your car and find a new parking spot and things like that,” explained Richard Hartman, Clearwater's transportation planner.
The idea of bringing the scooters to downtown Clearwater has residents divided. Savannah Ryder lives and works in downtown Clearwater and loves the idea. "There’s not a lot of parking in this area and I think with these scooters it would be a better way to make money, a better way to commute and just all around a good idea,” she added.
Mark Wallace thinks it's too dangerous. “To put these in a crowded pedestrian area with heavy traffic, I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said.
If the pilot program goes well in the downtown area, Clearwater could look into expanding it to the beach area.