Miami Beach bans scooter, moped rentals during spring break beginning next year

Commissioners leave open possibility of raising rental age

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The city of Miami Beach was debating Wednesday whether to ban scooter and moped rentals during two of the busiest parts of the year when traffic proves overwhelming and crowds converge on the beach. 

Wednesday's commission meeting pit business owners against residents and city leaders. At issue was whether scooter and moped rentals should be banned during spring break and the Memorial Day holiday. 

"There's no time period throughout the year when it's OK for us not to protect the public safety, and these things are clearly a public safety issue," Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman, who sponsored the legislation, said.  

The proposal was the latest in a series by the city to try controlling crowds that converge on the beach during certain parts of the year. 

Supporters of the ban argued that people who rent the motorized vehicles weave in and out of traffic and bike lanes, making it dangerous for residents and tourists.

Critics pushed back, saying the ban unfairly targets businesses and not bad drivers. 

"We have a problem with mopeds all year along. I don't like that it specifies weekends when specific people come here," Commissioner Michael Gongora said.  

"Everybody can rent a scooter in Miami and bring it back to Miami Beach and drive them on Ocean Drive," one person who attended the meeting said. 

Commissioners ultimately agreed that the ban will only take place during spring break beginning next year.

"I don't know how that's going to go," Mark Anthony Eason, who was visiting from Detroit, said. "It's Urban Beach weekend and a lot of people come out here and scooters are a very popular thing."

Last month, the police department began ticketing drivers for blaring music from their cars -- a move in response to residents who complained of a rowdy spring break crowd that overwhelmed traffic on the beach and led to a brief closure of the MacArthur Causeway. 

"The challenge is that during the highest period of activity in the city, when we have the most people, we have the most scooter ridership. Your police department is challenged to provide all other services to those large crowds," Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates said.  

The chief said officers have written 1,000 tickets so far this year for scooter violations and nearly half of them took place during spring break. 

Commissioners left open the possibility of raising the rental age.