TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — From fights caught on camera between bicyclists and scooter riders, to a man’s recent death from riding a rental e-scooter, Tampa’s scooter pilot program has not been off to a flawless start.
“I’m not such a big fan of them, to be honest with you,” said Douglas Diaz, who frequently bikes around downtown.
When the city launched the program at the end of May, it also launched an email hotline for feedback.
8 On Your Side requested those emails, and the reviews are mixed. “Love them!” some emails read, “hate them!” others said.
“I think it’s a great addition,” said Barbara Curts, who works downtown and sees the scooters often. “But like a lot of things, it needs to be reined in a little.”
The most frequent complaints sent in to the city at firstname.lastname@example.org involved scooters being where they shouldn’t be: blocking access to sidewalks, littered across prohibited zones like the Riverwalk and Bayshore Boulevard, and scooters trespassing on private property.
Surveillance video obtained by 8 On Your Side even found scooter riders crashing into and breaking a gate while trespassing in a downtown parking garage.
“At nightime, there are more young people,” said Brandon Anderson, who lives downtown. “I definitely would say alcohol is involved.”
Some of the complaints submitted to the city are more severe. One man wrote in about a scooter crashing into the back of his car, breaking his tail light, and taking off. He explained that police told him there was nothing they could do.
Despite anecdotal complaints, Tampa Police say they have only had two calls for service related to scooters since the program launched.
The scooters are part of a one year pilot program, and the city still has time to work out the kinks.
So…novelty or nuisance? The jury’s still out, but for now, people we spoke to downtown say they can stay.
“Right now it’s a novelty, maybe in a couple months it’ll be a nuisance,” said Derek Lenzen, who works downtown.
“Novelty,” said Barbara Curts.
“Novelty,” Douglas Diaz agreed. “Let’s think positively.”
Despite a recent uptick in crime downtown since the scooters launched, like stolen bikes, TPD maintains there’s nothing to suggest the scooter program has had a negative impact on crime.