Gainesville neighbors are now able to rent electric scooters for short commutes, following approval by the Gainesville City Commission at a recent meeting.
The authorization is the final step in a cooperative effort between the city and the University of Florida to regulate the safe use and operation of the shared micromobility vehicles on campus and around town.
“We join cities and campuses nationwide that are adopting safe and sustainable transportation alternatives to help alleviate traffic congestion and enable access to popular, alternative mobility options,” said Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe. “As always, the safety of our neighbors is our top priority, and we ask everyone to use caution and follow all safety guidelines when operating e-scooters,” he said.
Three of the nation’s largest micromobility companies will provide and service the rechargeable, battery-powered vehicles during the city’s one-year pilot program. The companies operate in cities across Florida, and are leaders in alternative transit solutions that are environmentally sustainable, durable and safe.
“The university is pleased to help bring this new transportation option to our campus and community. We are grateful to the City of Gainesville for exemplary planning and collaboration with us, and to the three successful vendors for their commitment to ensuring a smooth and safe rollout of this exciting program,” said Scott Fox, senior director of UF’s Transportation and Parking Services.
Using a vendor’s smartphone app, riders (18 and older) can locate, unlock, rent and return the e-scooters to designated areas from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; outside these hours, the e-scooters will not be visible on the app or available for rent (per minute).
Each scooter is equipped with GPS technology to enable the enforcement of geofenced areas such as no-parking zones, no-ride zones and special-event parking zones.
E-scooter speed is capped at 15 mph, and Florida statutes classify the vehicles in the same category as bicycles. Riders must follow the same rules of the road as cyclists, including riding in bike lanes wherever possible and obeying all posted speed limits and road signage.
“We encourage everyone renting an e-scooter to wear a helmet, follow all traffic and pedestrian laws, and operate them responsibly,” said Gainesville Police Department Chief Inspector Jaime Kurnick.
The micromobility pilot program demonstrates the city’s commitment to build an equitable and sustainable community for all neighbors. Each e-scooter company offers non-smartphone access and alternative payment options for riders, such as prepaid debit cards or paying with cash at participating retailers. The program also requires companies to deploy e-scooters in east Gainesville.