A six-month moratorium on granting new licenses for electrical bikes and scooters in Key West expired over the summer time, with the coronavirus pandemic placing the difficulty of managing the favored e-vehicles on the again burner.
However a proposed ordinance submitted by Metropolis Legal professional Shawn Smith to Mayor Teri Johnston final week met with resistance from the mayor, who proposed as a substitute hiring a advisor to advocate secure methods to handle e-vehicles that will be included in any native laws.
Metropolis commissioners in February authorized a six-month suspension on approving any new licenses and permits for each motorized and non-motorized rental automobiles. The timeline was to present metropolis workers time to do a visitors research in notably congested areas such because the Historic District. The research was for use to write down new laws governing the quantity, use and attainable restricted areas and velocity of the rental automobiles on metropolis streets and sidewalks.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the visitors research by no means occurred. However Smith started engaged on a proposed ordinance as a result of it’s on his listing of annual objectives and aims and gave it to Johnston final week for evaluation. Her response? That the ordinance basically says open the town’s streets and sidewalks to e-vehicles “and allow them to are available in,” Johnston informed commissioners at their assembly final week.
“I had nice concern about that as a result of we now have no information on sidewalk security, on the place these automobiles go, how we management them, how we monitor them,” Johnston stated. “Due to our lack of bicycle lanes, we now have shoved every little thing onto our sidewalks which, I believe we will all agree that they’ve develop into very harmful.”
Johnston additionally objected to doing a visitors research, saying the town has paid for a number of research previously and so they all advocate including a delegated bicycle lane on all metropolis streets, which is near inconceivable due to the slender Key West streets and sidewalks.
“We’ve acquired small sidewalks. We’ve acquired busy sidewalks. And we’re making an attempt to place yet another type of transportation on them. We have to understand how to do this safely,” she stated.
Commissioner Billy Wardlow urged his schools again in February cease permitting new e-vehicle corporations to open store in Key West, saying the automobiles had been “scaring the hell” out of pedestrians who don’t hear the silent automobiles come up behind them. Final week, he stated he wished the state to manage e-scooters and bicycles.
“They’re a motor vehicle. A few of them have good velocity behind them,” Wardlow stated.
However the state is unlikely to limit electrical bikes and scooters to street-use solely. Whereas native municipalities in Florida have the suitable to manage native streets and sidewalks, a brand new state legislation permits e-scooters and e-bikes to be ridden wherever non-motorized bicycles are allowed. In Key West, bikes are allowed on many, though not all, sidewalks.
Key West Undertaking Director Steve McAlearney has begun to seek for a advisor to work on the electrical automobile security suggestions. And Tim Staub, the town’s multimodal transportation coordinator, was instructed to contact every commissioner to see whether or not they wished to go together with Smith’s present proposed ordinance or rent the advisor.
In associated information, commissioners final week voted to not improve the variety of vehicle-for-hire licenses within the metropolis, which may embrace each electrical and motorized automobiles. In even years, people could request public hearings for brand new licenses, which embrace taxi cabs, golf carts, pedicabs and different transportation conveyances. However metropolis Chief Licensing Official Amanda Brady really helpful ready till 2022 to listen to any license requests. By then, she informed commissioners, a brand new e-vehicle ordinance will likely be in place, giving commissioners time to see if electrical automobiles contribute considerably to visitors congestion.
Brady stated there presently 1,982 whole approved vehicle-for-hire licenses, of which 1,287 are lively, in Key West. That quantity, nevertheless, doesn’t embrace ride-share automobiles comparable to Uber and Lyft that function within the metropolis legally however with out requiring licenses.
At the very least one enterprise proprietor needs to use for brand new vehicle-for-hire licenses. Pedal Get together Shuttle Service, operated by Blake Feldman, proprietor of The Inexperienced Room bar at 501 Greene St., needs to start providing electrical, human-pedaled pub crawls on open-air shuttle buses holding as much as 16 passengers. Primarily a shifting bar, Feldman’s request for a brand new vehicle-for-hire license didn’t state how lots of the pub automobiles he wished; nevertheless, he stated he had secured at the least 4 parking spots for automobile storage.