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Dockless Scooters Are Coming Back to Miami Thanks to New Pilot Program

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Spin dockless scooters
Photo by Tony Webster / Flickr
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Get ready to see orphaned scooters scattered all over town, plus a whole lot of complaining on Nextdoor. Starting Thursday, dockless scooters are making a comeback in several Miami neighborhoods.

As part of a six-month pilot program pitched by Commissioner Ken Russell, six startups will be allowed to deploy their scooters in Brickell, Coconut Grove, downtown, and Edgewater. The companies — including Bird, Spin, Lime, and Bolt — will begin with 50 each, meaning literally hundreds of scooters could appear overnight.

"This is a very viable alternative to taxis, Ubers, trains — the average ride is about 1.5 miles," Russell told the Miami Herald. "What it presents is a really incredible opportunity to get to transit and use transit for people who otherwise wouldn't."

Backed by millions in venture funding, the scooter companies envision their products as a solution to overcrowded streets and polluted cities. Anyone with a smartphone can easily find and activate one for an affordable ride. But since dockless scooters first descended upon U.S. cities two years ago, they've been the source of considerable ire.

Naysayers complain that people ride them recklessly, then abandon them all over the place. A whole subculture of Instagram accounts has sprung up to document scooter headaches: scootersbehavingbadly shows them in action, while deadbirdsofla and birdgraveyard chronicle their untimely deaths, some of them at the hands of pissed-off locals.

There have also been serious injuries and at least one death from the scooters. Some cities, including nearby Miami Beach and Hollywood, have outright banned the things. Yet Miami isn't alone in embracing them. In August, Coral Gables became the first city in Florida to formally allow scooters on its streets.

Coral Gables had initially issued "cease and desist" letters to several scooter companies that unloaded scooters on its streets without permission. Spin, the company selected for the partnership, was not among those rogue operators.

Miami also booted scooters last June. Most commissioners didn't want them back. Before Russell's proposal passed 3-2, a majority said they didn't want the scooters in their own districts. "This is an accident waiting to happen," Commissioner Manolo Reyes said, according to the Herald.

Under the pilot program, the number of scooters allotted to each company will be based on frequency of use. Russell said previously he envisions ultimately granting a company a formal license to operate in Miami permanently. 

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