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E-Scooters Make Their Tallahassee Debut With Pilot Program

Ryan Dailey

Those driving or walking Tallahassee may notice electric scooters, or e-scooters, zipping around town. The City’s pilot program launched on Monday.

Five companies are participating vendors for the pilot, bringing 1,000 street and sidewalk-legal scooters to the area. Chelsea Sims is with e-scooter company Lime, and was on hand for the program launch.

“You download the Lime app and you can just walk up, unlock and go. A dollar to unlock, 15 cents a minute, you can ride it to your destination and scan it to lock it, and just go on,” Sims explained.

Andy Prescott stopped by City Hall, where the launch was taking place, on his lunch break. It was his first time riding an e-scooter.

“I was coming to work this morning, I saw them over here and I was like, ‘I’m going to have to try that out at lunch,’” Prescott said. “And I actually really enjoyed it, it caught me off-guard how fast they really go.”

After his test-run of a scooter from the company Spin, Prescott said he’s likely to download the app so he can ride anytime.

“I’ll definitely probably get it, especially using it down in College Town and stuff like that. Using it down there, it would be a quick way to get around,” Prescott said.

Michael Duncan is an associate professor at Florida State University’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning. He says there’s not much data out on e-scooters, but spoke about whether they are a legitimate means of helping transportation concerns, or just a novelty.  

“There is a lot of driving that’s done for really short trips, trips that are a mile or less,” Duncan, who follows the evolution of the relatively young e-scooter industry, said. “And if these scooters are replacing those short auto trips then it definitely would alleviate traffic and alleviate some of the pollution and other issues that are generated by traffic. But we don’t know, it may be that people that are using these scooters are people that were otherwise going to walk. And if that’s the case, then it may be creating problems.”

Duncan adds some have complained of e-scooters strewn about in cities where have debuted. He says that problem is a solvable one. But the more substantive concern, Duncan says, is safety.

“They’re a safety hazard on sidewalks interacting with pedestrians, and if you get those out on the street, I’m not sure how visible people are going to be to cars,” Duncan said.

In June, Commissioner Jeremy Matlow said the City will keep an eye out for potential problems.

“We know that there will be issues, we’ve seen them in other communities. And some companies do more what we’re looking for than others, we don’t know who those are. I just want to make sure we’re vigilant of – when someone steps out of line, we’re taking them off right away,” Matlow told those at the June Commission meeting. “And it’s a message to any of the companies- we’re watching to see who’s going to mess up first.”

The scooters top out at speeds of 15 miles per hour.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.