Electric scooters could be hitting the streets of St. Petersburg as soon as September, providing residents and visitors with a fun, adventurous and Instagrammable option for getting around town.
City council will vote Thursday to approve agreements with two scooter operators, Razor and Veo. The agreements will pave the way for the operators to set up, manage, operate and maintain the city’s scooter share program.
If the agreements are approved as expected, it would mark one of the final steps in the lengthy process of bringing scooters to St. Pete. In October 2019, the council approved a “micromobility” ordinance that included the regulation of electric scooters and scooter share operators. Two months later, the city issued a request for proposals from scooter operators. Eight proposals were submitted and evaluated, with Razor and Veo coming out as the frontrunners.
The scooters, which include both seated and standing models, will be part of an 18-month pilot program that will give the city a chance to measure ridership, performance and safety. There will be a phased deployment of the program, with each operator launching up to 225 scooters initially. Authorization of additional scooters will be issued based on demonstrated use and how well they’re following city regulations. Officials anticipate a full launch would put up to 1,500 scooters on the streets.
To house the scooters, the city is planning to create about 100 parking corrals. They’ll be repurposing unused space, using expanded bike share hub areas and converting parking spaces and loading zones. The operators will be assessed a one-time fee of $40,000 each to cover most of the cost of building the corrals, with a portion of that revenue going toward a university-based study of the program’s effectiveness.
As for when, where and how fast the scooters can be ridden, it’s not a free-for-all, and the technology allows operators to enforce no-ride areas and parking compliance. Operating hours will be between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Scooters may only be used in bike lanes, or on streets with posted speed limits of 30 mph or below. The scooters will also not be allowed on the Pinellas Trail west of 34th street (due to Pinellas County regulations), or on the North Bay Trail from Demen’s Landing to Coffee Pot Park. At The Pier, they will only be allowed in vehicular roadways, not sidewalks or trails. Helmet use is encouraged but not required, and the scooters will max out at 15 mph.
The geographic area bounded by 22nd Street, Dr. M.L. King, Jr. Street, 5th Avenue North and 18th Avenue South will be designated an equity zone, where there’s a high percentage of households without cars. Discounts will be provided for riders in qualified federal, state or local income-based programs.
Tampa has had electric scooters since 2019. They were pulled from the streets due to Covid-19 in late May, but were back in operation by the end of July.
City council will get a progress update about two months after the scooters go into operation. If all goes well once the pilot is complete, it could lead to three-year renewal terms to create a more permanent program.