Uber launches e-scooter safety campaign in Tampa

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Uber launched an electric scooter safety campaign Tuesday, as the ride-sharing company officially jumped into the next transportation craze in downtown Tampa.

The company owns Jump e-scooters, which is one of four operating the devices in the city.

"We're handing out free helmets, giving safety tips and asking the users to sign our safety pledge," said Joao Barbara, Jump Florida's General Manager.

Jean Duncan, the director of the city's transportation department, said there are now about 900 scooters around the city and they have been very popular.

With the increased usage, however, there have also been a number of issues and complaints.

"Some of the issues we're seeing are people riding in the middle of the streets, they're supposed to only be on the sidewalks right now. We see people that are going very quickly by pedestrians without any warning," Duncan told FOX 13.

E-scooters are only allowed on sidewalks and cannot be operated in streets, bike lanes or restricted areas, like the Riverwalk.

Duncan said police have the ability to hand out tickets or warnings. Until now, officers have not issued any citations.

For now, it's up to the companies operating the e-scooters to police their riders.

"With technology, we can have a few benefits of informing them what these rules are, but also enforcing them either through slowing down the scooter on restricted areas or by removing the access of the users when they don't comply with these rules," Barbara said.

Florida lawmakers recently passed legislation that would allow e-scooters in bike lanes. Governor Ron DeSantis has not yet signed it into law. Tampa city attorneys are looking over the potential new law to see how it would have to be integrated locally.