At the beginning of March 2021, Jacksonville, Florida launched a one-year e-scooter pilot program with 400 scooters. While there was initially a lot of excitement surrounding the new transportation method, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has received a number of reports regarding the scooters.
In less than a month since the start of the pilot program, the Sheriff’s Office arrested one rider and received a report about a hit-and-run.
The arrest was made when an 18-year-old was seen carelessly driving the electric scooter and running a red light in front of a police officer. A patrol car was waiting at a red light at the intersection of Forsythe Street and North Laura Street. The rider drove into the middle of the intersection, got off, and picked up the front wheel while looking at the officer.
While the officer verbally warned the suspect not to run the red light, he continued to drive into the intersection and eventually ran the red light. The officer followed the suspect, who was swerving across the double yellow line. When the officer initiated his lights and sirens, the rider continued down the road, disregarding the patrol car. The rider eventually stopped because of a curb on the sidewalk, and he was arrested.
The arrest report included three offenses: resisting an officer with violence, failing to obey a traffic control sign, and failing to ride as close as possible to the right side of a two-way street: “It should be noted that failure to operate motorized scooters safely and in accordance with Florida Statues has recently become a rampant and very dangerous problem in the urban core since several businesses have started making electric motorized scooters available to the public for rent.”
The hit-and-run report was made by an e-scooter rider who claims to have been hit by a car that was leaving the parking garage at 11 East Forsyth Street. She did not report the incident until the following day, so the police documented it as “informational.” Because of that and because both parties left the scene, it is not considered a crash report.
In an effort to reduce incidents involving e-scooters, the Downtown Investment Authority has implemented rules, which include:
- Must be at least 16 to rent and ride
- Top speed of 10 mph when operating on a sidewalk
- Top speed of 15 mph when operating in the right-of-way
- Riders are encouraged to wear helmets