By Carrie Pinkard
Electric scooters have been getting a lot of attention in Florida lately at both the state and local levels.
St. Petersburg is the latest city to take a closer look at both the pros and cons of the transportation trend.
The average person walks 3 miles per hour - 17 mph less than the speed of the average electric scooter.
This is one reason why St. Petersburg Transportation and Parking Director Evan Mory wants to keep e-scooters off the city’s sidewalks.
"Our concern is that with the devices going 15-20 miles an hour, it's not really safe to have a lot of those operating on the sidewalk in our downtown environment where there are so many pedestrians and sidewalk cafes and other obstacles,” he said.
Mory and other transportation officials are working with the St. Petersburg City Council to pass an ordinance that will bring scooters to the city.
The next meeting with the city council sub-committee will be July 25.
If the scooters are approved, then the focus will shift to choosing which vendor to partner with.
Tampa has seen e-scooters whizzing around downtown since May.
Last month, Ron DeSantis signed a law that allows people to ride electric scooters on Florida’s roads and bike lanes.
Just a few days later, a 33 year-old man named John Michael Edgerton was struck by a semi-truck while riding a scooter in a bike lane in Tampa. He later died in the hospital.
Edgerton wasn’t wearing a helmet when he was hit.
Mory said the city of St. Petersburg probably won’t mandate helmet usage, but they will strongly encourage it.
“It’s very difficult logistically to get helmets into everybody’s hands,” he said. “But hopefully it will be pretty popular for regular riders to use them.”
Other safety precautions Mory would like to see include setting a minimum age for e-scooter drivers, and setting a curfew so people don’t ride them late at night.
Mory said he hopes the electric scooters are more than just entertainment, instead viewing them as a viable transportation alternative.
Other cities in the Tampa Bay area have mixed opinions about the scooters.
At a meeting on June 5, the Clearwater city council issued a six month ban on e-scooters while they decide if they want to bring them into the city.
Billy Cooney, planning technician for the city of Sarasota, said they are still considering e-scooters for the future.
“We’ve chosen a bike share company called VeoRide,” Cooney said. “We will start by doing bikes with them and will think about scooters later.”