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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 11, 202009:15 PM EST

Council approves one-year pilot program for e-scooters and e-bicycles Downtown

The bill’s sponsor says Jacksonville is the last of Florida’s major cities to try a dockless mobility program.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

City Council approved a one-year pilot program Feb. 11 that will bring e-scooters and e-bicycles Downtown.

District 5 Council member LeAnna Cumber introduced Ordinance 2020-26 on Jan. 14 to establish a permitting process and regulatory framework for dockless mobility devices.

The program sets travel boundaries for the electric scooters and bikes.

The southern and eastern boundary is the eastern edge of TIAA Bank Field along the Northbank Riverwalk. The northern boundary is Beaver Street.

The west end of the “Dockless Mobility Zone” ends at the JTA Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center, which is expected to open in late March.

Cumber said in January that she worked with JTA staff to draft the program’s boundaries and the Downtown Investment Authority to establish enforcement protocols. DIA oversees parking on the Northbank and Southbank.

Council approved the ordinance in an 18-0 vote. The bill is headed to Mayor Lenny Curry for his signature.

Rentals of dockless e-bicycles and e-scooters for short point-to-point trips in Downtown areas have been growing in popularity in Florida and the U.S.

The e-scooters and e-bicycles are equipped with a battery that power an electric motor.

According to Cumber, Jacksonville is the last of Florida’s major cities to try a dockless e-bicycle and e-scooter program.

Gov. Ron DeSantis legalized e-scooters and similar devices throughout the state in June by signing House Bill 453. It allows Florida cities to regulate micro mobility devices.

Companies like Uber JUMP Scooter, Lime, Bolt and Bird Rides Inc., which are operating throughout the state, will be able to apply for permits to operate on the Northbank.

The e-scooters and e-bicycles are equipped with a battery that power an electric motor. Companies will use geofencing, a form of GPS tracking technology, to detect when the bike or scooter leaves the designated area.

The corrals where the e-scooters and e-bicycles will park have to be installed on sidewalks that are 8 feet wide or greater. The ordinance allows the corrals in other areas with some restrictions.

The program will have costs to the city, mainly for processing permits and additional staff hours to the DIA for enforcement. The city also will have to retrieve scooters and bikes left outside the program boundary.

Cumber wants to pass most of those costs on to operators through fees. For a company to install a corral and operate scooters there will be permit, renewal and annual fees. The companies also will have to purchase performance bonds for each device up to $10,000.

The program will allow the e-bicycle and e-scooter operators to set the rental rates.

According to the bill, no more than four companies will be able to operate a dockless mobility program in Jacksonville at one time but can have more than one type of mobility device.

Permits will be submitted to the city’s Planning and Development Department.

Cumber based her bill on an e-scooter initiative by the city of Fort Lauderdale. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, a series of accidents and one death resulted in Fort Lauderdale city officials drafting new safety rules for the devices in November.

The bill allows Council to make the program permanent if the e-scooter and e-bicycles are successful.

Cumber said she hopes the program boundaries can expand to include other areas of Downtown and neighborhoods like San Marco, Riverside and Brooklyn.

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