It’s the new trend in transportation and fun along the beach. The concept is simple: You get on an electric scooter, you ride around, you have fun, and when you finish, you leave it almost anywhere you want.
The Dockless Bike Share and Scooter Share, also known as the Dockless Mobility Program, is the new shared mobility program that allows users to unlock, rent and ride bicycles, electric bicycles and electric scooters from virtually anywhere by using an application on smartphones.
“The mobility permit program is designed to provide residents and visitors with a fast and convenient alternative transportation option to travel around the city without having to use a car,” said Dayana Díaz, senior strategic communications specialist for Fort Lauderdale. “It’s another way to improve mobility and sustainability by taking traditional vehicles out of the streets for short trips.”
Customers use a smartphone application to locate and activate a scooter. For example, with a Lime-S scooter, it costs $1 to unlock the device and 15 cents per minute of use. A half-hour ride is about $7.50.
Since Nov. 2, when the first scooters rolled in Fort Lauderdale, more than 40,000 individual trips have been recorded, mainly on the beach and downtown, Diaz said.
“As with any new company, there is an adjustment period involved. In addition to the positive comments, we have received questions about safety and the rules that apply to the use of scooters,” Diaz said.
Matt Deso, 24; and Chelsea Smith, 22, both from Fort Lauderdale and both fan of the electric scooters. (Aurelio Moreno/El Sentinel)
The vehicles can reach a distance of up to 37 miles and a maximum speed of 14.8 mph. They work with a 250 watt motor. The driver must be at least 18 years of age and have a driver’s license to use the scooter.
“They are economical and help you get from one place to another very quickly,” said Chelsea Smith, 22, also of Fort Lauderdale and fan of the electric scooters.
“It’s affordable. You do not pollute the air with carbon dioxide and everything related to automobiles. It’s pure fun. Honestly, I feel like a child again, it’s great.”
All around town
When you finish using a scooter you can leave it parked anywhere, as long as it does not block a sidewalk or in front of the store entrances.
When the scooters run out of power they are picked up, recharged and returned to the streets.
“It’s fun; you can go for a ride and get some fresh air,” city resident Matt Deso, 24, said after using a scooter along the beach in Fort Lauderdale. “Basically, you scan it to unlock it and use it as long as you want.”
Three companies — Bird, Bolt and Lime — currently offer the service, which is regulated by the Department of Transportation and Mobility of the city of Fort Lauderdale. Each company has an approved fleet of up to 500 devices.
To use the scooters, Lime and Bird users must download the cellphone app for the company that owns the vehicle. After using the scooters, they should be left in a place that does not block the public road (such as ramps, parking lots, building entrances, hydrants, etc.). To close the session, the rider must take a photo of the parked scooter. Providers can then review photos and rate how well the device is parked. If a user receives numerous low scores, he can be excluded from the application.
Bolt is also studying how to incorporate this feature into its application, the spokeswoman said.
When the scooters run out of power they are picked up, recharged and returned to the streets. (Aurelio Moreno/El Sentinel)
Not everyone is happy with the vehicles, which were first used in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami and then disbanded when the city said they had violated Florida law.
In mid-October, the Miami City Commission voted to allow scooters for a one-year trial period.
Jo Ann Medalie, a Fort Lauderdale resident, complained in a series of e-mails addressed to community leaders about what she considers “a distraction and a problem” with the proliferation of scooters, something she says occurs without a clear established regulation.
“No doubt it is necessary to establish rules. Unfortunately, there is no law on the use of helmets in Florida,” she said. “By the way, I just drove from Sunrise Boulevard to my home on Harbor Drive, and I saw about a dozen scooters. One person wore a helmet, and most buzzed on the sidewalk at full speed.”
Medalie, who calls herself a beach monitor, believes that driving a scooter at 15 miles per hour on a sidewalk filled with pedestrians can be dangerous. And even more so when the driver may be under the influence of alcohol and at night.
“This is not a good mix, no matter how you judge it,” she adds.
Diaz, the Fort Lauderdale city specialist, responds that the use of helmets is part of the safety recommendations included in a brochure that users should read.
“Each of the three scooter service providers also has safety information available in their application,” she said. “In addition to always encouraging the use of the helmet, we advise that passengers obey traffic laws, travel individually and never drink [alcohol] while driving. ”
Chris Lagerbloom, assistant administrator for Fort Lauderdale, replied in an email that the City Commission has been discussing the issue of scooter safety for months.
City commissioner Steven Glassman said that “we are definitely monitoring the situation.”
Where to ride
In addition to Fort Lauderdale, Lime also currently operates in South Miami, Miami Springs, Miami Lakes, Miami Shores, North Bay Village, North Miami, Key Biscayne and some universities such as Barry, Johnson & Wales and St. Thomas.
“We have focused on educating neighbors, many of whom are being exposed to this means of transport for the first time. The city will continue to work with authorized operators as necessary to make improvements, address areas of concern and educate users,” Díaz said.
Other cities in the country are dealing with the way to regulate the devices, offered as a solution for short-distance transport in urban centers.
Recently, San Francisco decided to return to scooters after banning them on city streets, but it allowed only two small businesses to operate fleets under a pilot program. New York and Washington, D.C., are also examining pilot programs.
“It’s a new form of transportation. I like it. I only use it to have fun. I think it’s a great idea. It’s much better than just sitting or just walking on the beach,” said Aaron Bradley as he tried to unlock a scooter on A1A.
“People want to go out and do things, and it’s not expensive. To rent a Jet Ski you need almost $ 100.”
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