Miami, which was home to the majority of electric scooters in the US, is curbing the use of micromobility vehicles. According to him Miami Herald, lCity commissioners voted to end a multi-year pilot program that had allowed companies like Bird and Lime to operate shared scooter rentals within the city core. The ordinance was approved by four of the five members of the commission and entered into force as of midnight on November 18.
“We are going to close it,” Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla told the media. “That is all”. As in many other cities in the US and other parts of the world, electric scooters were controversial in Miami: Supporters claimed they were an effective solution for short trips, while detractors said they made city sidewalks unsafe. It was this latter point of view that influenced the committee’s vote.
“On Biscayne Boulevard, at any time of the day, you see children on these scooters,” said Commissioner Díaz de la Portilla. “This is an accident waiting to happen,” he added.. Ken Russell, the only commissioner who voted against ending the program, noted that it had been a revenue generator for the city. Miami had earned approximately $ 2.4 million through the pilot program.
“But it has not been without political risks,” Russell said before the vote. “I fully understand your concerns.”
The vote caught skateboard rental companies off guard. “We are very disappointed by the Commission’s hasty and shortsighted action to end the scooter program, removing a popular and safe transportation option used by thousands of Miami residents on a daily basis and leaving dozens of workers out of work the week before Thanksgiving, ”said Caroline Samponaro, Lyft’s vice president of transit, bike and scooter policy, in a statement shared with Engadget.
Samponaro cited Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s recent comments in support of shared electric scooters while speaking at the Los Angeles Auto Show. “We are hopeful that he will stand up to the Commission on behalf of Miami residents and visitors to stop this action,” he said of the mayor.
Other suppliers of scooters have also spoken out about it. “This is a surprise to our tens of thousands of users and to the dozens of Miami workers we employ and whose livelihoods are being played on,” Lime’s senior director of government relations Phil Jones said in a statement. “We have long worked with the City of Miami to provide safe, affordable and sustainable transportation options to residents and visitors, and we have invested millions of dollars in our micromobility program here.”
As the Miami Herald, there is a possibility that the scooters will return to Miami. City staff are writing rules that would allow rental companies to bid on a contract to operate in the city as part of an ongoing program. But considering that the Miami City Commission would have to vote to authorize such a program, it is unclear if there is enough support.
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