ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — St. Petersburg Police officers are looking for a driver who they say hit and killed a person on an electric scooter early Saturday morning on 34th Street North. Officers said a driver hit the person on a black e-scooter then left the scene. It happened just before 3 a.m. Saturday.
Detectives believe the scooter was heading west in the median lane going across 34th St. N. The person who hit the scooter was driving north.
By the time police arrived, the electric scooter driver was dead. Detectives believe the vehicle involved is a light blue Toyota Avalon. Police said the vehicle doesn't have tinted windows and appears to be an older body style with damage to the front driver's side and front windshield.
“We have no footage," St. Pete PD's Ashley Limbardo said. "We have no witnesses. We are asking if you have the littlest bit of information please come forward."
Saturday’s crash did not involve one of the rental e-scooters in St. Petersburg, which only operate until midnight, but it does come at a time when St. Petersburg city leaders are expanding the program by adding more scooters to the roads and allowing them to operate until midnight. Previously the program ceased at 10 p.m.
St. Pete extended the Razor and Veo rental e-scooter program by three additional years. The city will now also allow 1,100 scooters to be rented in the city.
Yet, safety continues to be a top priority, and riders tell ABC Action News that they’re doing their part.
“The scooters have bells on them and we had to use them last night because there were a couple cars not paying complete attention but when you ring the little bell then they can hear you,” rider Samantha Meany said.
Both VEO and Razor also added LED lights and fluorescent paint to make the e-scooters more visible at night.
Kiley McNeill liked the feature because she believes it helps drivers to see the scooters better.
“At night they have lights on them so you can see the road and there are brake lights in the back so the cars can see the same as if it was a normal car,” she said.
Just how safe are the e-scooters? ABC Action News pulled the numbers from St. Pete’s pilot program from October 2020 to January 2022. In those 15 months, people hopped on e-scooters 372,569 times, they logged 5 million minutes and commuted 438,533 miles. During that time, there were just 12 crashes or traffic incidents, according to data collected by St. Petersburg employees.
Riders told ABC Action News that most drivers seem mindful of the e-scooters sharing the road, but Saturday’s crash makes them more careful about their own safety.
“It’s just like driving a car but smaller," Meany said. "It seems honestly like a lot of the drivers are pretty used to them, so we’ve had a lot of drivers looking out for us and waiting and yielding to us."
St. Pete also issued several guidelines for riding the e-scooters safely including:
- Ride carefully, ride respectfully
- Ride in bike lanes or on streets with a speed limit of 30 mph or less
- No sidewalk riding
- Riding on trails is okay except along the waterfront; yield to pedestrians
- Always ride with your driver's license or photo ID
- Do not ride against the flow of traffic
- Wear a helmet
- Only 1 rider per scooter
- Park in designated corrals to end your ride
If you have any information that can help solve Saturday’s hit and run crash, you’re urged to call St. Pete Police at 727-893-7550 during business hours and 727-892-1402 after business hours.