Winter Park City Council voted February 24th to have City Legal Staff draft up a new regulation on scooter share and other micromobility companies for Council to review at a later meeting.
Current City ordinances restrict this type of business, but Staff has been receiving requests from micromobility companies to move into the Winter Park area. Staff recently had a request for the deployment of 40 scooters that would specifically operate in the City's Central Business District and along Park Avenue.
Current legislation states that a municipality cannot restrict micro-mobility more than any restrictions on bicycles.There is an existing Ordinance that does not allow bikes on sidewalks in the Central Business District, but does not address this issue for any other part of town. The City is only allowed to prohibit them on heavily traveled streets.
Commissioner Cooper pushed for what she called a "banned-til-regulated" approach. She said some US cities have put a temporary ban on scooter share until they could formulate their regulations because it's become "such a problem in so many cities."
Since Staff said it'd take the same amount of time to draft the ban as it would to draft the regulation, Council chose to have Staff draft the regulation. If the regulation comes back and the Council dislikes it, a moratorium would be considered.
The vote followed a 15 minute presentation by Staff and a discussion between Council and Staff.
City Staff expressed "serious concerns" about introducing vehicles like scooters which can travel from 5-20 mph into the City's pedestrian environment. "We want to make sure we can pre-define places within the city that are pedestrian-heavy areas we say, we geo-fence them and say, these are not allowed within these locations."
Staff showed Council a photo of a pile of scooters on a college campus and said they didn't want "piles of scooters laying in our parks." They requested the Commission take action at a future meeting or get nods to update the City's ordinance.
The Commissioners who spoke about scooter share were opposed to it.
Comm Sprinkle said "There's nothing that would close our downtown quicker than allowing (scooters)." She was "scared to death" walking the UCF campus in December because of them. "The kids love them out there (but) you never know where they're coming from." She also said her son who works at George Washington hospital told her scooters have been a "boon" to their emergency room since they were implemented in the Washington DC.
Commissioner Weaver said, "Adding one more bit of risk with little-tired scooters is not a good idea in my opinion." He went on to say scooters were "dangerous" due to the diameter of the tires. "I love the idea of rental bikes, but the scooters - I just think they are too risky."
Commissioner Cooper said the benefits of the mobility aspect of scooter share are outweighed by the risks. "Where do we have sidewalks wide enough?" she asked. "The only place I see is the sidewalk along Denning." She said that Lime is pulling out of San Diego, Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Antonio "because the cities are trying to regulate them."
Staff said they should be able to have a draft of the new regulation as soon as the March 9th Council meeting.