Electric scooter pilot program coming to Tampa

- A new mode of public transportation will be available for Tampa residents and visitors starting next year.

City officials plan to launch an electric scooter pilot program in February 2019.

"It's just another tool in the toolbox of transportation options," said Jean Duncan, Tampa's director of transportation and stormwater services.

Three vendors, selected by the city, will be participating in the program and will provide a total of about 1,800 scooters for public use.

Duncan said the vendors, which have not yet been selected, will set the price rates.

A designated area of about 12 square miles will be open for the electric scooters - from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, all the way south, between Armenia and 40th Street.

While city officials hope the electric scooters will be a hit among users, similar programs in other major cities across the country have been problematic.

Critics argue the scooters are left laying on sidewalks and pose risks to pedestrians and other cars and buses trying to navigate busy city streets.

But Duncan said the city is aware of the challenges and plans to set some ground rules.

"There's been some bad headlines with them, we know. We don't want that to happen here in Tampa. That's why we've decided to go with a pilot program to try to make sure it gets rolled out safely," Duncan explained.

According to Duncan, there will be designated corrals for the scooters to be stored after use.

Current city law only allows electric scooters to be driven on sidewalks, but Duncan hopes, if all goes well, for that to change in order to open up bicycle lanes and low-speed roads.

"There's a lot of interest in motorized scooters, so we decided to be proactive," he said.

The pilot program is expected to launch sometime after Gasparilla.

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