August 31, 2019

‘Scooternado’: Bird, Lime Scramble to Get Scooters Off Florida Streets Before Hurricane Dorian Hits
Oscar F. Chuyn/GettyElectric scooter companies are shutting their fleets up in warehouses so the miniature vehicles won’t become casualties of Hurricane Dorian—or deadly projectiles in its strong winds.Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell tweeted Thursday about the effort to get scooters placed by various tech companies off the streets. “Normally we’re worried about construction debris, but now we’re trying to avoid a scooternado,” Russell told The Daily Beast. “With more than 1,000 of these in the streets, if the wind were to pick them up, it could certainly cause some damage.” Following an aggressive national rollout effort by mostly California-based tech companies, the scooters have become a frequent sight on city streets in recent years. Now, Florida officials are being forced to imagine what a worst case scooter scenario could be.Hurricane Dorian strengthened to a Category 3 storm Friday, with winds reaching 115 miles per hour, and meteorologists expect it to grow stronger through Friday as it moves from the Caribbean toward Florida. Predictive models slate it to make landfall Monday or Tuesday. In anticipation of the storm, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Wednesday.As Florida cities make traditional hurricane safety preparations, the new technology is posing unanticipated problems: could electric scooters become deadly in strong winds? Could they be swept up in floodwaters? Russell’s district, the only one in Miami with scooters so far, has rolled them out over the past four months. It began with 600 and worked its way up to 1,200 as more people have started using them. Six companies have six-month licenses to operate there, according to Russell. City staff have the capability to see where any scooter is at a given time via a GPS monitoring system, he said.Russell set a deadline of noon Friday Eastern Time for companies to remove scooters from Miami streets, which his office said the businesses complied with. The move is part of a broader effort to clear anything that could become a dangerous projectile in high winds, Russell said.Every scooter company that spoke to The Daily Beast had complied with Russell’s deadline and stored their scooters in local warehouses in Miami and other Florida cities. A Lime spokesperson said in a statement that the company had shuttered its scooters in warehouses in Miami, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale—1,500 in all, along with 500 bikes in Orlando. It also took some scooters off the street in Tampa, though not its full fleet there. Jump, a subsidiary of Uber, removed 250 scooters from the streets of Miami and 300 from Tampa, according to a spokesperson. A spokesperson for Spin, a scooter company owned by Ford, said the company had retrieved all its scooters, though it didn’t say how many or from where. The spokesperson said Spin would alert riders to the change via its app. Lyft’s local team has collected all 244 of its scooters from the streets of Miami and stored them in a warehouse, a company spokesperson said. A Bird spokesperson said the company has picked up its scooters from Miami and warehoused them as well.
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