Five companies launch e-scooters in Tallahassee during pilot program

Published: Jul. 15, 2019 at 5:35 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

July 15, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The e-scooter pilot program kicked off on Monday in Tallahassee.

Five companies brought 200 scooters each, which will be in the City for the next three months.

The goal of the e-scooters is to get people out of their cars, and be more environmentally friendly. The City of Tallahassee has a mission of using 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Tallahassee is not the first Florida city to get e-scooters; multiple companies are also located in Tampa, Miami, and Orlando.

One complaint around the country about e-scooters is where people leave them; the five companies, Bird, Lime, VeoRide, Spin, and Gotcha, are hoping their 200 scooters can permanently park in Tallahassee.

Lime representatives said they are committed to teaching the community to ride safely.

"Parking it responsibly of course, out of the way of pedestrians, out of the sidewalk, and not in front of doors," said Chelsea Sims, a City Launcher with Lime.

Protests were held in San Diego after multiple head injuries from e-scooters on the boardwalk; helmets are not required by law in Florida, but every company urges riders to wear one.

"I loved it, a little scary at first, particularly on the turns," said new rider Monica Carusello. "They go a lot faster than I expected;

I'm glad for our free helmets!"

The Bird company handed out free helmets to visitors at City Hall on Monday, and Lime said they would be holding helmet giveaways in the coming days.

Each company has an environmentally friendly mission.

"We want to get everyone mobile in other ways, our electric vehicles, our scooters, our cars, just get everyone out and about and out of their vehicles," said Shaneda Lewis, an Operations Manager with Gotcha.

VeoRide operates slightly differently, using field-swappable batteries.

"We can just unlock the top hatch of our scooters and swap in a new one and it's fresh to go," said Andrew Miles, the Southeast Regional Manager for VeoRide. "So, we don't have to take the scooter off the market entirely."

Spin scooters are taking an individualized approach to each city it enters, using local staff.

"That can actually help make sure that the scooters are where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there, and when they're not supposed to be there, that they're picked up as well," said Nabil Syed, the General Manager of Florida at Spin.

New riders said today, they believe Tallahassee is a great place for the scooters.

Resident Adrianna Williams tried the Bird scooter on Monday.

"I've never been on an electric scooter before so this was just an amazing first experience," said Williams. "Whether I just need to get from Point A to Point B and it's more convenient to use a scooter rather than a car, or whether it's just to use them for fun, I will definitely be using them"

Another resident, Monica Carusello, said Tallahassee is well-equipped to handle this sort of traffic.

"We've got bike lanes downtown and wide sidewalks that might be easy to ride on, also evenings when it's cooler weather!"

Although the pilot does not currently allow any scooters on FSU, FAMU, or TCC campuses, companies are hoping that may change.

"College students love the scooters, you know, get to class a lot quicker. So anywhere there's a university, that's going to be our strongest ridership," said Lewis, with Gotcha.

"Part of our day-to-day operations are to operate in a very effective way to show them that we can be good partners in the future," said Syed, with Spin.

All of the companies have geo-fences set up around the campuses; if someone tries to ride a scooter onto campus, it will power off entirely.

Spin is offering free unlocks all week for Tallahassee riders; Lime also has a promo code of "limetally" that allows three unlocks for new users.