Tougher rules for Pensacola e-scooters wins approval from City Council
Electric scooters will soon not be allowed to operate in Pensacola after midnight on weekends under rule changes the Pensacola City Council approved Thursday night.
With six months left in the city's one-year trial of e-scooter rentals, the council approved updating the city's ordinance that regulates the rental e-scooters to ban the devices from riding on city sidewalks, except to be parked, and prohibiting their use from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday through Sunday.
The ordinance also added more streets that e-scooters are not allowed to operate on including Cervantes Street, Ninth Avenue, Garden Street and Barrancas Avenue.
It also bans the e-scooters from parking on sidewalks on Palafox Street between Garden and Main streets, as well as on sidewalks along Intendencia and Government streets between Palafox and Alcaniz streets.
The new ordinance also requires riders to verify their age, as only people 18 and up are allowed to rent them. Bird, the sole e-scooter rental company currently operating in the city, implemented an update to their app Jan. 4 that requires renters to take a photo of their driver's license to verify their age.
Rule changes called for:Rule changes coming next week for e-scooters in downtown Pensacola
Bird also rolled out a "safe start" system that becomes active after 10 p.m. that requires the rider to enter a keyword before renting the e-scooter. The "safe start" feature is aimed to discourage people from riding under the influence.
Downtown business wanted stronger regulations of the scooter, and the Downtown Improvement Board sent a letter to the city last month asking for stricter rules for the e-scooter program.
Data collected from Bird showed that since they launched last year, the Pensacola e-scooter program has seen 25,000 people take 65,670 rides and travel 153,306 miles.
Another company called VEO will roll out up to 250 new e-scooters later this year as part of the city's program. VEO's e-scooters have a seat, rather than requiring the person to stand while riding.
The city's trial program allows up to two e-scooter vendors to have up to 250 e-scooters each deployed anywhere in the city south of Baars Street between Pace Boulevard and Bayou Texar.
The proposed ordinance would have banned the e-scooters after midnight for the core downtown area only, but council members were unanimous that they thought time restrictions should apply to the entire area e-scooters are allowed to operate.
The only point of contention Thursday night came from Councilwoman Sherri Myers who said she didn't believe Bird was complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Myers said the company was in violation of its contract with the city. She did not elaborate on how the company is in violation, but said if it wasn't corrected, she would bring a proposal at the next council meeting to terminate the contract.
The ordinance passed unanimously but must be voted on for a second reading at next month's council meeting before it goes into effect.
Jim Little can be reached at email@example.com and 850-208-9827.