Gainesville And UF Launch Electric Scooters For Riders To Rent On Campus, Around The City

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Gainesville residents are now able to rent electric scooters for transportation thanks to the collaboration of the city and the University of Florida.

This is part of the Micromobility Pilot Program, where three companies were specifically chosen to provide the services. These are Bird, Veo and Spin.

“We’re really excited to bring another transportation option to our campus for the students and for all the Gainesville community,” Scott Fox, UF Senior Director of Transportation and Parking Services, said.

For residents who walk to their destinations, this new option could be appealing and just a click away.

According to Jose Couso, Gainesville resident, this method of transportation could be faster than waiting for the bus to pass by his stop every 15 minutes.

“With the e-scooters, I will now be able to grab my device and go as I please,” Couso said.  “Not having to depend on my bus to pass by on time is a great feeling.”

To access these devices, riders will need to download the app from one of the three companies, pay the $1 unlocking fee, plus an additional charge per minute.

However, there are some people who argue that the scooters could cause accidents in the areas they are being used.

“After the recent accidents in University Avenue, the last thing we needed was to have more vehicles to worry about,” Sol Tobolski, UF student, said.

But according to Gainesville City Commissioner Harvey Ward, safety has always been the city’s top priority.

“Anything we can do that helps people move around our city inexpensively and simply and safely is something we want to do,” Ward said.

Choosing the companies was a year-long process, according to David Arreola, Gainesville City Commissioner.

“When we first started having these conversations, we were going to go a different route. We wanted to make sure that we could be as safe as possible, because that’s the first thing is safety. And then we wanted to be responsible with how many we were introducing into the city,” Arreola said.

During discussions, companies were methodologically chosen by evaluating the service they provide and their level of technology.

“We wanted to make sure that we had companies who could put proper governors on the speed limits. And so, as we introduced all of those requirements, there were really a few companies that sort of rose to the top,” Arreola said.

All of the companies now operating in Gainesville have GPS technology that allows them to have access to the location of each of their electric scooters.

This allows them to control the customer’s payment and the speed at which it is transported.

The device’s maximum speed is 15 miles per hour. However, according to Steve Orlando, UF vice president for communications, there are areas where foot traffic increases, and vehicle speed is automatically reduced to avoid accidents.

“There are no-flight zones for crowded areas like the Northeastern corner of campus, where the scooters will slowly go into a complete stop,” Orlando said.

Contrary the city of Miami or the state of Georgia, Gainesville will require riders to end their ride in designated parking areas.

“When you start your ride, the meter starts and you’re paying for your use of the scooter, and the meter doesn’t stop until you park that scooter appropriately on campus. If you leave it somewhere you shouldn’t, the meter continues to run, and you could get a pretty expensive bill,” Fox said.

Riders must leave their vehicle at a parking area marked with this sign. (Valentina Angel)

Since this is a one-year program, each company will begin supplying 200 electric scooters.

These vehicles will be available every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The city and the University of Florida advise to wear a helmet every time you ride one of these vehicles.

“It’s really important that everybody recognizes that whether you’re riding a bicycle, or a skateboard, or driving a car, or riding an E scooter, you have to bring an element of personal responsibility to the experience,” Fox said. “So, you know, you have to ride safely. You have to be respectful of others.”

About Valentina Angel

Valentina is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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