The Florida Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would allow municipalities to regulate e-scooters in the same way as bicycles.
House Bill 453, sponsored by state Rep. Jackie Toledo, would allow scooters to be driven on the asphalt in the bike lane.
Rep. Mel Ponder, who voted for the HB 453, first saw the bill when it went through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, where Ponder sits on the board.
"The bill, in my opinion, is a very good bill," Ponder said. "The bill mainly does a couple things: it defines what a scooter technically is and also says they have some rights."
This bill changes regulations that kept many companies like Lime and Spin from setting up shop in Florida. Lime and Spin are scooter rental companies that offer dock-less vehicles that can be found and rented through an app.
"We're so congested with traffic anyway," Ponder said. "This is much faster than walking, but it will definitely provide tourists and guests another legal way to get around town."
Current law keeps any motorized vehicle that can't hit 30 miles per hour from being allowed onto the road, which keeps scooters on the sidewalks.
HB 453 brings that speed down to 20 mph, a speed many e-scooters can hit.
Owners of Coastal Cruisers, a 13-year bike and scooter rental business in Destin, John and Rose Kile said they don't like the idea of companies like Lime being allowed into the community. The couple agreed it was less from a business perspective, but more for the safety of the community.
Rose said this opinion of these companies came after a recent trip to Dallas where she saw many scooters belonging to companies like Lime laying in the middle of the sidewalks.
"They have just become a litter hazard," Rose said. "They literally just lay on the sidewalk. They fall over. They're leaned up against tress. They're in a pile on the side. They're cool, but I've heard of a lot of injuries because no one trains them on (the scooters) or they don't provide the helmets."
"Don't want them," John added.
Other than that, John said the bill sounded good to him. John also mentioned the importance of safety after the March death of Destin resident Joel Iral, who was killed in a vehicle-involved scooter accident.
"I'd rather have (the scooters) in the bike lane than on the sidewalks because they're faster moving," John said. "... We have multiple-use paths here. You can ride your bike on a sidewalk and/or a bike path, which isn't used nearly as much as a sidewalk.
"Getting that traffic off of the sidewalk and onto the bike path would be a really good idea if they govern it."
One reason Ponder was once against the bill was the lack of disaster mitigation rules in place.
He said he worried if a situation like Hurricane Michael happened again, there would be no rules to keep the potentially thousands of scooters from becoming a storm hazard.
Ponder said he supported the bill because of the amount of local control given.
"It empowers local government to implement the rules," Ponder said.
HB 453 will be effective upon becoming a law if signed by the governor.