TAMPA, Fla. - People in Tampa love to scoot, but how will motorized e-scooters fit into the already-crowded streets of Tampa during the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates?
The city says e-scooter companies will be allowed to operate Saturday, but there will be some restrictions.
In the first seven months of the city's pilot electronic scooter program, people have logged more than 800,000 trips on e-scooters, meaning some might already be planning to use one on parade day. This Saturday will be the first time scooters will be on the streets when the pirates invade and parade down Bayshore Boulevard.
"We’ve done everything we can to try to have a good game plan and we're hoping it will go smoothly," said Jean Duncan, the city of Tampa's director of Transportation and Stormwater Services.
With drinking permitted on the parade route and 300,000 paradegoers on the hunt for beads, city leaders had concerns about safety as well as scooters scattered in packed areas.
"We believe that the population that seems to be using the scooters most frequently tends to be the population that may be doing a lot of the partying,” Duncan said.
Scooters are already banned from Bayshore Boulevard and the Riverwalk but on Saturday, there will be an expanded no-ride-zone, covering a few blocks around the Gasparilla parade route.
"The scooters should come to a very slow pace and then should stop,” said Duncan. “That’s what we’re asking for, and we’re going to be monitoring that.”
Out of the four e-scooter vendors operating in Tampa, Bird says it will pause operations on Jan. 25, so their scooters won't be available to rent.
A spokesperson for JUMP says the company expects higher demand and usage, so they will have extra staff on the ground working to replace any drained scooters.
And Lime says there will be a reduced fleet of its scooters, but they will have extra staff on the lookout for drunk riding and dead scooters.
"We want people to have a great, safe time and go home, injury-free," Duncan said.
The expanded no ride zone goes into effect at 9 p.m. Friday and runs through 9 Sunday morning.
JUMP says they sent an email to all users about the restrictions, and according to Lime, the company plans to send out push notifications to remind riders not to scoot under the influence.