Are Ride-Sharing Scooters Coming To Florida?
Florida is no stranger to the new “sharing economy” that’s cropped up in recent years. While the state is, of course, happy to play host to “ride-sharing” services like Lyft and Uber that allow everyday car owners to become amateur taxi drivers, it is AirBnB that has had a huge impact on the economy.
With a state as heavily graced with tourism as ours, it’s no surprise that people offering their homes up as "hotels" would make a significant amount of money this way.
So it really isn’t much of a surprise to anyone in Florida that the sharing economy model works, whether that’s cars or places to stay. But what’s coming into California is a new type of ride-sharing and someday soon, Floridians may also find themselves using these devices; electric scooters.
Cutting Down On Cars
When it comes to travel within a dense, metropolitan core, such as Orlando, or Miami, sometimes a car doesn’t always make the best sense. Heavy traffic, short distances involved, parking costs, and even the availability of public transportation tend to make a car not so practical in heavily urbanized areas. With the proliferation of ride-sharing vehicles adding to taxis and average drivers on the road, traffic becomes even more congested.
So a new form of ride-sharing is coming out of California, and now expanding into other states and cities, such as Denver, Colorado. It’s an attempt to do something different, giving more people more mobility, while reducing the number of cars on the road. This uses electric scooters, or e-scooters and works on a business model similar to ride-sharing bicycles.
In this case, the scooters are kept at a distribution center, and, at least in the latest rounds of evaluation, aren’t available all day, but from 6 am to 8 pm. They have a top speed of 15 mph, and a traveling range of 15 miles, so this is strictly for shorter travel needs. The pricing is also reasonable, with schemes running about $1 to unlock the scooter and 15¢ for every mile traveled.
On Florida Roads
One of the most interesting aims of this program is that in some cases, the e-scooters are targeted at areas where mobility is more difficult. Parts of Denver, for example, that are under-served by public transportation are getting scooter stations as a way to see if this can bolster mobility in these areas. So what will this mean here in Florida?
For one thing, e-scooters, due to their low speed, are not considered full-scale vehicles, so, unlike trucks, cars, and motorcycles, no license is required to use these. They are in the same class as bicycles, however, no pedaling is required. If the experiment to share more of these vehicles succeeds and eventually spreads to Florida, then we may see more of these vehicles in urban zones, park zones, and any place else where there are a lot of destinations to visit within a 15-mile radius.
A New Situation
Because these vehicles are similar bicycles in terms of legal classification, we may see many more of them on the roads, and they may be cruising down available designated bike paths as well. Drivers will need to be more aware of these on the road and treat them accordingly.
Perhaps more worryingly, however, the motorized nature of e-scooters means some people may be tempted to use their phones while on the vehicles, since they don’t need to pedal or push themselves along. In some cases, drivers should take extra care should this situation arise.
But for e-scooter users, there’s also a need to be careful. As with a bicycle, e-scooter users are especially vulnerable to injury from a car accident. Drivers tend to not to notice pedestrians or cyclists during critical, time-sensitive driving events, such as trying to make a left turn at a busy intersection. If you find yourself getting hit by a car because the driver was more concerned with what was happening on a phone, or making a turn in time rather than paying attention to the road, get professional help. A personal injury lawyer with experience in bicycle accidents can be an important legal advocate in getting you the compensation you need for an e-scooter related accident on the street.