Electric scooters in downtown Jacksonville raise safety concerns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Electric scooters have been the craze in downtown Jacksonville since they were first introduced two weeks ago as a one-year pilot program.

But while they can make for a fun way to get around they’re also leading to safety concerns, mainly at night when some riders don’t follow the rules of the road.

As the night goes on, groups of riders are often seen traveling in just about every direction in the streets and on the sidewalks. That’s increasing the probability of a dangerous collision with a car.

It was just past 1 a.m. Friday and the driver of car could be seen hitting the brakes to avoid hitting a person riding a scooter on Bay Street. The driver had the green light at the time.

Moments later, a rider went off his scooter while performing tricks in the middle of the roadway.

One rider who spoke with News4Jax said they don’t ride into oncoming traffic and they keep each other safe but people who work and live downtown say that’s not always the case.

“I’ve seen them make illegal U-turns. I’ve seen them yank in front of cars,” said resident Ashley Edmondson.

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said what can be seen in the video is a legitimate traffic safety concern.

“They have to abide by all the same rules as you would if you were on a bicycle, motorcycle or in an automobile,” Jefferson said.

That means no running red lights or traveling in the opposite direction of traffic on one-way streets. Recently managers of the Carling Apartment building filed complaints with the city over traffic hazards and safety concerns involving the use of scooters in front of the building. City Council member LeAnna Cumber was instrumental in bringing the electric scooters to the River City as a way to bring new life into downtown. And she’s aware of the concerns.

“I really want people to have fun, but obviously we want everyone to be safe,” said Cumber.

Cumber said both drivers and scooter riders are responsible for paying attention while on the road.

“And never assume the driver is going to stop or see you. I think that will go a long way to the safety and so forth,” Cumber said.

Cumber said she’s all for starting education campaigns to teach the public how to properly and legally ride the scooters.

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