FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fort Lauderdale city leaders are trying to figure out what to do about electric scooters after receiving numerous complaints and in the wake of an accident that sent a judge to the hospital.
The city commission is meeting Tuesday and will vote on banning scooters from the beach over spring break and other regulations.
Mayor Dean Trantalis said the program was intended to relieve congestion on the city streets, enabling people to use the scooters to take short trips instead of using a car.
Commissioners spent an hour Tuesday listening to people from the public and the scooter companies themselves going back and forth about the scooters.
Before those comments, the city heard a review of how the program has gone so far.
The roll out of the scooters began on Nov. 1 and, according to their numbers, there have been more than 320,000 rides through January, adding up to more than 460,000 miles traveled.
The problem, however, has been that there has been a lot of issues with where the scooters are being parked and, even more unfortunately, some major accidents involving those scooters.
According to Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31, there have been 40 incidents involving scooters. A total of 31 of them required someone be transported to the hospital, and four of those were level-1 traumas.
Just this past weekend, Broward District Court Judge Susan Alspector was running on A1A in Fort Lauderdale Beach when a scooter rider hit her from behind.
She was taken to the hospital and needed Achilles surgery. Fortunately, she is doing alright and will be back at work on Wednesday.
Reviews on the scooters have been mixed.
"Many, many close calls. My dog was almost killed on Sunday because we had bicycles, we had people walking and we had the scooters all going at the same time on a very narrow path on the sidewalk," Fort Lauderdale resident Rita Green said.
"I'm happy with the numbers. I'd like to see a couple more here and there, so it's a little more easy to come here by scooter. If there had been one outside my door today, I would have taken one," another resident, identified only as Shawn, said.
Some suggestions city staff made were providing areas designated for parking, lowering speed limits in certain spots and even establishing curfews for when they can be used.
There's also some talk about both short-term and long-term changes.
There is currently a 2 1/2 hour window for relocating improperly parked scooters, but commissioners want to change it to 30 minutes. They also want to implement "corral areas," where the scooters can be parked legally.
Commissioners also discussed increasing fees for operators and having defined service areas.
The mayor said they definitely dont want to ban the scooters completely, but something certainly needs to change.
Later Tuesday night, the commissioners will be discussing what to do during "high-impact" events, like spring break or Memorial Day, potentially temporarily eliminating their use on Fort Lauderdale Beach.