Clearwater makes rules for impending e-scooter trial run

Clearwater is a step closer to allowing e-scooters on the streets.

Council members voted unanimously to approve an ordinance at Thursday’s meeting, laying out the framework for how the scooters would operate.

"They can get somewhere quickly and easily and economically in a short amount of time," said Clearwater Senior Transportation Planner Richard Hartman.

The ordinance now allows a 1-year pilot program to test out the scooters.

Some local businesses like Downtown Pizza are giving the e-scooters a thumbs-up.

"Anything that's going to get people down here, especially with parking being an issue. We're already limited on parking so the e-scooters would be easy," said business owner Dale Robinson.

The city of Clearwater initially passed a 6-month ban on the scooters back in June, hoping to first observe how they operated in other cities like Tampa.

The ban will officially expire next month and the city says it is now ready to welcome this new way of getting around.

"Motorized scooters will often solve that first mile, last mile problem for people who ride the bus or get dropped off somewhere," Hartman said.

As part of the ordinance:

  • only 200 scooters will be allowed  to operate at one time;
  • they will be prohibited on sidewalks;
  • and will only be allowed on streets with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less;
  • the scooters must be parked in designated areas.

The city's rules are similar to those put forward by St. Petersburg last month.

"It's going to be a whole easier because there are apartment complexes that are relatively close and if they can get on e-scooters they might come here easier and not have to worry about getting in their car and finding a spot," Robinson said.

The city’s pilot-program will start sometime early next year. Once it’s in place, scooter companies can apply for a license to operate in the city, which could begin in May.