Miami reinstates e-scooter pilot after brief ban

The Miami City Commission voted on Monday to reinstate its e-scooter pilot program, which it had briefly banned due to safety concerns. Shared e-scooters from companies like Lime, Bird, Helbiz and Spin will return to Miami’s streets on January 15 following strict new safety measures.

The new program will see rules for operators and riders, according to CBS Miami: Riders must wear a helmet and observe a maximum speed limit of 10 miles per hour on sidewalks; side-by-side riding is prohibited; only two operators are to be permitted per block, down from four; and riders must be at least 18.

Spin and Lime told TechCrunch they are working on solutions to be in compliance with Miami regulations and address the city’s concerns before bringing their services back next year.

On November 18, Miami City commissioners had voted 4 to 5 to end the e-scooter pilot that had been in place since 2018, citing risks posed by scooters on sidewalks and untrained riders on busy streets. (In last weekend’s The Station newsletter, we noted the slight hypocrisy of removing the humble scooter from the streets when there are far more unsafe and environmentally unfriendly vehicles about.)

By midnight of November 19, micromobility operators had to disable their vehicles and collect them by 5 p.m. before the city impounded them.

Advocates for the e-scooter pilot have argued that not only has the program brought in $2.4 million in revenue that was used to create bike lanes, but also that their services help residents with first- and last-mile travel and generally reduce car usage and emissions.

The commission voted 3 to 1 on Monday to rescind the ban.

“Change is coming; it’s going to happen anyway. Regulate it,” Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla said, according to WPLG Local 10, adding police officers can enforce rules such as speed limits.

“This news comes as a relief to Miami residents who’ve long relied on e-scooters as a safe, affordable and sustainable way to get around,” Bruno Lopes, senior manager for government relations at Lime, said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with the commissioners and Mayor [Francis] Suarez to develop a permanent program that prioritizes safety for riders and non-riders alike. We specifically hope the city will continue to invest the millions of dollars in e-scooter fees Lime and other operators pay into protected bike lanes, the most proven way to ensure the safety of all road users.”