Coral Gables scoots into lead with electric scooters
Since the county issued an emergency order halting all operations to avoid the spread of Covid-19, the City of Coral Gables is the first municipality to bring back electric scooters as a safe transportation alternative.
On Sept. 14, the ban was lifted, allowing Coral Gables to lead the charge in providing an alternative method of transportation for commuters to get around while continuing to promote social distancing, according to city officials. On Oct. 1, a fleet of 50 Spin electric scooters was launched and spread throughout the city, including popular destinations like Miracle Mile, Merrick Park and other metro areas.
“Scooters are another way to move people more efficiently and safely, and it helps to provide the ‘last mile’ connection to transit. Coral Gables currently provides a free trolley system connecting directly to Metrorail, and the use of scooters will serve as a second option for connection,” said Douglas Cobb, the city’s senior traffic engineer and mobility program manager. “We believe the benefits are many, as are the people that benefit, from downtown workers headed to lunch to visitors wanting to explore.”
In response to the pandemic crisis, Spin has increased the frequency in which its e-scooters are disinfected. Each scooter is cleaned by employees with disinfectant wipes or spray and a clean towel at all major points of contact, said Nabil Syed, Spin e-scooters’ regional general manager for the Southeast.
“We also have disinfectants attached to the scooters for riders and upgraded them with anti-microbial hand grips. They are clean before riders jump on them, but these protocols give riders a sense of comfort,” he said.
Last week, Spin was approved to expand fleets in the City of Miami with 381 scooters available in Brickell, downtown Miami, Edgewater and Coconut Grove, Mr. Syed said. It will cost commuters $1 to unlock and 39 cents per minute to ride with top speeds of 15 mph.
“We’ve received more vocalized feedback from Coral Gables with average trips of about 25 minutes,” he said. “Business owners are starting to request scooters to be placed in front of their establishments.”
Coral Gables will soon welcome an additional 50 Bird electric scooters, and city officials said they are open to expanding the fleet if the demand is there.
Scooter riders are welcomed and encouraged throughout Coral Gables, but city officials have designated No Ride Zones to protect pedestrians in specific areas. The No Ride Zones include Miracle Mile, the Granada Golf Course and Giralda Plaza. “It’s important to note that scooters may operate on Miracle Mile, just not on the sidewalks,” Mr. Cobb added.
The city is not collecting revenue from the vendors. This is a service for residents and visitors, Mr. Cobb explained. “Like the trolley and freebee, we want to offer as many sustainable transportation options as possible,” he said. “This is an ongoing project which was first approved in 2018.”