E-scooters will come with stricter rules in St. Petersburg

Electric scooters are one step closer to being a reality in St. Petersburg, but they'll come with stricter rules for where and when the motorized mode of transportation can be used than in other cities, including Tampa.

Leaders locked-in those rules Thursday night. The city is taking a careful and thorough approach to how electric scooters will be rolled out, which could happen by early spring.

While Councilwoman Brandi Gabbard said she "would like to have seen them on the street yesterday," launching e-scooters in St. Pete was held up amid concerns cluttered streets and sidewalks, and concerns about riders' safety.

“I’m for introducing scooters in St. Petersburg; I don’t want the Wild Wild West,” said Councilman Ed Montanari.

“Honestly a part of me is a little worried because, you know, I want people to be safe on them, I don’t want to see people get hurt,” Councilwoman Darden Rice said.

To address those concerns, city council members voted to approve a new ordinance, laying out some rules for e-scooter companies and users.  

It’s a pretty long list:

  • Scooters will be banned from sidewalks and along the waterfront trail.
  • Scooters can be ridden within a bike lane, if there is one, on roads with speed limits of 30 miles per hour and under.
  • Speeds will be capped at 15 miles per hour.
  • The scooters must be parked within designated corrals across the city.

“Without this ordinance, we would not have been able to do that, so it’s just one step forward toward bringing scooters to St. Petersburg,” Transportation and Parking Management Director Evan Mory said. “Still going to be several months before that actually occurs.”

After getting proposals and selecting a few e-scooter companies, a one-year pilot program will be rolled out. City officials say many of the details and penalties still need to be hammered out with those vendors.