Bike shares and e-scooters are essential, but can they also spread COVID-19?

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — If you were wondering why there are still plenty of e-scooters and shared bikes scattered across Tampa during a time when sharing anything is discouraged, it’s because they’re deemed “essential” as a form of transportation.

But Hillsborough County emergency leaders still worry if the shared devices could spread disease.

Hillsborough County School Board chair Melissa Snively, who serves on the county’s Emergency Policy Group, raised the issue during the policy group’s Monday meeting.

“If people are not properly wiping down those mobility devies, then they could potentially be spreading,” Snively brought up during the teleconference.

She said the concern was first brought to her by a constituent, and cited an article in New England Journal of Medicine claiming the coronavirus can live on metal and plastic for up to 72 hours.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor responded to Snively’s concerns stating that ridership is down dramatically. Castor also pointed out that shared mobility devices can be important modes of transportation, especially for low-income individuals.

“It still doesn’t negate the personal responsibility for cleaning any surface you’re about to touch,” Castor told 8 On Your Side.

You’re encouraged to sanitize a shared scooter or bike before you hop on and once you’re done riding it.

Tampa’s four e-scooter providers have all taken a different approach to the crisis.

Bird has reduced its fleet, with Lime removing its scooters from the streets entirely.

Jump and Spin continue to operate but disinfect the scooters at least twice a day, we’re told.

Spin is even offering free rides and helmets to healthcare workers as a way to get to work.

HOPR who owns Coast Bike Share, the company behind the blue rental bikes in Tampa, tells 8 On Your Side’s they have been following CDC guidelines while team members are using PPE equipment while handling bikes. HOPR recommends customers continue to wash their hands before and after riding, and that they follow the CDC guidelines.

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