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Front Page » Top Stories » Miami’s electric scooter rentals balloon from 300 to more than 3,000

Miami’s electric scooter rentals balloon from 300 to more than 3,000

Written by on January 7, 2020
Miami’s electric scooter rentals balloon from 300 to more than 3,000

The City of Miami’s electric scooter rental experiment kicked off last April with six companies and fleets of 50 scooters apiece. Since then, three more companies have joined the pilot program, and total approved scooters in the city ballooned 10 times over, to more than 3,000. 

Now, with a request for proposals potentially reaching the city commission next month, the program could either be made permanent or shut down altogether. 

The scooter pilot is currently restricted to Commissioner Ken Russell’s district, which includes Coconut Grove, Brickell, Downtown Miami, Edgewater and Morningside. The commissioner has had to contest the value of the pilot, arguing that it has helped keep people out of cars and served as a solution for the last mile link to mass transit. 

“I don’t think people really comprehend how valuable it is in terms of changing habits of how people get around,” he told Miami Today on Tuesday.

But he has met stern opposition from Commissioners Manolo Reyes and Joe Carollo, as well as complaints from constituents, who have raised concerns over underage scooter use, unsafe drivers, and scooters cluttering city sidewalks or ending up in other commission districts where scooter use isn’t legal. 

While Mr. Russell has called for several amendments to the pilot program to increase safety, Mr. Carollo and Mr. Reyes haven’t been appeased. At the Dec. 12 commission meeting, when the pilot program was extended through Feb. 14, Mr. Russell said the administration had not enacted the safety amendments he had called for.

Mr. Russell told Miami Today the city will be rolling out 100 drop zones across his district for the scooters. The designated parking zones could help minimize scooter clutter, he said. 

As the city crafts a request for proposals, Mr. Russell said the number of companies allowed to operate in the city is likely to decrease, suggesting it could be whittled down to three or four. The city, he said, would score the companies on metrics that include fleet size, ability to incentivize good behavior and the safest equipment.

An industry day for the scooter companies is slated for Jan. 17, Mr. Russell said, at which the city will advise the companies what it is officials want to see, as well as get input from the companies.

While Mr. Russell said the program has resulted in about 1.6 million rides and $1 million for the city, of which much gets invested in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in his district, he acknowledged that other commissioners and residents’ concerns regarding safety could doom the pilot. 

He said the city will be rolling out a campaign through social media and bus shelter ads to educate the public on proper scooter usage, adding that the most important thing is addressing underage scooter use.

Six scooter vendor joined the pilot during the six initial months: Bird, Bolt, Jump by Uber, Lime, Lyft and Spin. The city allowed each vendor to have a 50-scooter fleet during the first two weeks, and then allowed them to increase to 100. The city grants the companies 25% fleet increases monthly if usage rates are at three or more rides per day per scooter. 

According to December letters from the city to the companies provided by the city, three companies have been granted a fleet of 595 scooters, the largest size: Jump, Lime and Lyft. 

If a scooter vendor doesn’t meet the three-ride average but manages two rides per scooter per day, the vendor can maintain its fleet size. A company that falls beneath that threshold can trim its fleet.

Baus, Helbiz and Wheels are new additions to the program. Wheels was the only one of the three to be granted a fleet size increase in December. 

The city is paid $1 per scooter per day, in addition to the $50,000 application fee each company had to pay.

Uhriel Bedoya, general manager of Lime Florida, touted that his company has been able to increase its fleet size every month since the program began. He said Mr. Russell’s office has been direct with his team, letting Lime know what is expected of the company. 

According to information provided by the Miami Parking Authority, which has been tasked with enforcing the parking aspects of the pilot program, more than 1,300 scooters had been impounded from the outset to December, when the numbers were provided. The authority impounds scooters that users leave outside of Mr. Russell’s district and charges the companies $25 per scooter.

Lime has had the most scooters impounded, 358; the two other companies with an identical fleet size, Jump and Lyft, have seen 253 and 335 scooters impounded respectively. 

“No good deed goes unpunished. The reason that we have the most scooters impounded is because we have the largest fleet,” Mr. Bedoya said. 

He added that because a rider can cross over from one commission district to another by merely going to an adjacent street, it’s easy for scooters to end up in other districts. He said there’s a demand for the scooter pilot outside of Mr. Russell’s area. 

14 Responses to Miami’s electric scooter rentals balloon from 300 to more than 3,000

  1. Thomas Cadigan

    January 8, 2020 at 9:32 am

    The scooter rental companies and Commissioner Russell think that the scooter program “has helped keep people out of cars and served as a solution for the last mile link to mass transit.” I don’t think so. The only people I see on the scooters are 14 year olds riding down the middle of South Bayshore. No helmets, no safety gear, and at dusk, no lights! They are not part of the public transportation solution, they are just children playing on a very crowded and dangerous street.

    • Charlie

      January 12, 2020 at 12:23 pm

      Stop complaining. If you don’t want to ride, don’t ride. But it works great for those of us who choose to use them. Just go sit in traffic and be part of the problem… Ok Boomer?

    • B Brodeur

      February 8, 2020 at 5:10 pm

      Come to Brickell – all adult riders, all the time.

  2. Ken Hart

    January 8, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    “He said the city will be rolling out a campaign through social media and bus shelter ads to educate the public on proper scooter usage, adding that the most important thing is addressing underage scooter use.”

    Russell really doesn’t get it. He’s kind of like Trump. “Don’t confuse me with the facts”. The main issues are 2 fold, scooters are making it unsafe for pedestrians because of unsafe operation and when they’re invariably left blocking the sidewalk. Secondly, what scooters are generally displacing are people walking. I’ll bet the average distance for a renter is under 1/2 mile. That takes all of 10 minutes to walk. What a huge time savings these scooters provide

  3. Dennis Hunter

    January 9, 2020 at 7:28 am

    I hope the scooters come to Miami Beach soon. We need easier and more environmentally friendly ways of getting around in MB too.

  4. Gene

    January 9, 2020 at 8:02 am

    One of the more important concerns about this policy and roll out has been the injuries and accidents reported. Seems to be no data on this. Why? Bone breaks, brain injuries, etc. Where is that data? Dollars over health? Show the data on these impacts. Now.

  5. Vicki Bankston

    January 9, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    The scooters are ridiculous in Coconut Grove – they are dropped in the middle of driveways where children play and easily can get injured. The age of drivers are not monitored for age apppropriateness and only cause increased confusion, congestion and danger to an area that is already at risk with building and lack of parking place —STOP!

  6. Jeremy Hart

    January 9, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Love the scooters!! Keep them forever! Let’s get rid of as many cars and as much C02 as possible!!

  7. Jerry Johnson

    January 10, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    The personal injury attornies, hopefully, will not have a field day with this.

  8. GMan

    January 11, 2020 at 8:18 am

    It’s so great to have the scooters. We just need better bike lanes to keep the scooters off the sidewalks. Also we need a solution for parking the scooters so they don’t block the sidewalks for walkers and runners.

    • Ken Hart

      January 12, 2020 at 9:24 am

      You’ve hit the nail on the head, IF we had bike lanes and IF we had places, other than sidewalks to park the scooters. Unfortunately, for now and the foreseeable future, that’s not even close to being the case. When both are true I’d have no problem. Until then, I’m adamantly opposed. I live in Brickell and there are too many pedestrians (including myself) and too many irresponsible scooter riders.

    • Andrew

      January 30, 2020 at 10:06 am

      This is exactly right. Im also a Brickell resident, and the scooters pose a huge danger to pedestrians, both by being hit by people fly down the sidewalk at 15mph and tripping over the scooters littered across the sidewalk. If Ken Russell and the City want to invest in bike lanes and public transit as badly as they claim to, how about the cars who have caused the problems be the ones who pay. 2 simple steps that don’t require much capital outlay would be increasing city owned parking prices and removing street parking to add designated-bus lanes and bike lanes. Additionally, if scooters are supposed to solve the last mile problem, why is the brickell metrorail stop outside many of the scooters’ service map? Maybe Commissioner Russell, who doesn’t actually live downtown or in brickell, doesn’t understand the chaos that he’s supported creating. I am excited to see the roll out of designated parking areas for the scooters (assuming it is enforced), but the scooter program will continue to pose a liability and be a negative for everyone who lives, works, or plays in Brickell if the scooters are allowed to remain on the sidewalks. I’m amazed no one who needs the use of a wheelchair has filed suit due to scooters blocking the sidewalks, and I hope Miami doesn’t join most other cities who have had scooter related fatalities.

  9. Dawson Allen

    January 12, 2020 at 1:33 am

    I will be sad when the pilot program diminishes the number of scooters. Scooter injuries don’t compare to auto fatalities, and they don’t burp up as much poisonous exhaust. Car exhaust inhalation is a suicide method, and yet we allow internal combustion to take place frivolously and massively all over our cities.

  10. Joseph

    February 20, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    I just got hit while walking in downtown Miami
    By a Scooter full speed going the wrong way and went flying on the ground broken wrist and all banged up.
    This Scooters have to stop they co e from every direction…