FL: E-scooters and e-bikes in Tampa: What to know about the new rules

April 3, 2024
Fees for failure to return devices to designated areas, a corral location request form and "bounty" for returning devices to designated areas are among the policies to take effect.

TAMPA — Surely you’ve seen them dumped on sidewalks, strewn across street corners and littered throughout parks. Maybe you’ve spotted one nestled on the bed of the Hillsborough River, lobbed from the Riverwalk.

Now, the city of Tampa wants to crack down on haphazardly discarded e-scooters and e-bikes.

As of Monday, riders must park their rented electric vehicles in city-approved designated areas or face a fee of up to $5.

The fees will be doled out by the individual operating company, according to the city, which currently has three vendors: Lime, Spin and Helbiz.

Docking stations include hundreds of marked corrals, electronic virtual corrals, public bike racks, scooter racks and charging stations across the urban center. Vehicles have software alerting riders where they can and cannot park.

The city has also set up an interactive website where residents can request new corral locations.

Riders can also return misplaced scooters and bikes to docking stations and be rewarded a “bounty” by the operating company with a credit to their account. These credits range from 50 cents to $2.50, according to city officials.

Across the nation, cities have increasingly embraced electric bikes and scooters as a way to lure people from their cars and fill the gap in urban transportation systems. But they have also drawn increasing criticism about the recklessness of some riders who have turned a convenient transit trend into a sidewalk hazard.

Cities such as San Francisco and Miami temporarily banned e-scooters before reintroducing them. In Hoboken, New Jersey, the city hired two officers in 2019 to enforce e-bike and e-scooter safety.

Rental e-scooters have been part of Tampa’s urban landscape since 2019 — for many, a welcome addition to the city’s barebones public transit offerings. Today, there are 2,177 rentable e-scooters and 291 rentable e-bikes stationed across downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Ybor City, West River and Tampa Heights.

The plan is to expand the program citywide within a few months, city spokesperson Joshua Cascio told the Tampa Bay Times.

Last month alone, roughly 48,000 trips were completed on the rentals, according to city data, totaling 55,000 miles. Roughly 1,500 to 2,000 trips are taken per day.

The rented e-bikes and e-scooters are prohibited on the Riverwalk, the Bayshore Boulevard sidewalk, Armature Works, Hyde Park Village and Seventh Avenue in Ybor City.

The city’s foray into the world of electric rentals has not been without speed bumps.

Early on, pedestrians seemed startled by the influx of scooters zipping past at up to 15 mph. Car drivers were not used to sharing the road with the two-wheelers.

Environmental nonprofit Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful has pulled scores of e-scooters from the Hillsborough River, including 32 during a cleanup effort last week, with dozens more presumed to remain below the water’s murky surface.

“We’ll be monitoring compliance of the vendors,” Cascio told the Times. “We understand it may take a few weeks to get acclimated, but we do expect voluntary compliance.”

©2024 Tampa Bay Times. Visit tampabay.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.