TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Natalie Henigan and her friend Samari live in Riverview, but a new trend in transportation has driven them to downtown Tampa.
The city's pilot program allowing electric scooter companies to operate kicked off last weekend, with two companies rolling out scooters at various locations.
“We came to try them out, and it’s pretty cool,” Henigan said.
E-scooters are the newest kind of affordable, convenient, and environmentally friendly option in downtown transportation.
“I saw people up in my neighborhood using them,” said Ariel Pitcher, who lives downtown. “They seemed to be having fun! It was groups of people laughing and joking. It looked like a fun time!”
Spin, the first company to launch, says its inaugural weekend was a success.
“We’re like, ‘There’s 20 there, there’s five there, they’re all over,” said Spin’s Tampa operations manager Dan Fleischbein. “And people are having a great time.”
But that doesn't mean there weren't a few speedbumps.
Scooters are working in parts of downtown where they are supposed to be off-limits. Like Bayshore Boulevard's sidewalks and the Riverwalk. Geo-fence technology is supposed to prevent it.
But as we found out, that’s not the case with a Spin scooter.
FOX 13 caught the speedometer showing top speeds of 15 miles per hour in areas where the scooters are supposed to automatically slow to three miles an hour, signaling to the driver that the area is off-limits.
“We are out there watching, learning, and then what we do is, we tweak it -- a little bit there, a little bit here, and then we observe and tweak it,” said Fleischbein.
Their goal is to ensure safety remains the top priority.
“I hope that they can get that under control, because I think it’s really important we keep our pedestrians safe and that we keep our roadways safe for our bikers, motorists, scooters, and pedestrians,” said Pitcher.
City officials say they, too, are watching. Jean Duncan with the city's Transportation Department said scooter companies all signed user agreements, indicating they have geo-sensing technology which can force scooters to roll to a stop once they go outside the geo-fencing area.
The price to scoot around downtown on a Spin scooter is just over $4 for a half hour, plus a $1 flat rental fee. They strongly recommend riders wear a helmet.