Why is micromobility still banned in Miami?
It’s a simple question. Cities throughout the US are turning to their scooter and bike share operators to provide relief for transit systems that can’t handle the demand for safe social distancing.
Adding to the region’s absolutely abysmal attitude towards safer cycling and vulnerable road users, Miami has been subjected to an emergency order since March that has brought shared bicycles and scooters to a halt.
Well, like anything in Miami, the story is a twisty little novella. Unfortunately, the players in this story also know when to use a phone, so the story hasn’t made it to public record. However, the accounts below have been correlated by people in the know.
So here goes.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, City of Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes proposed a shutdown of the current micromobility pilot. It is no secret that Reyes isn’t a fan of the scooter program, and has voted against its creation and its extension in the past.
Reyes’ proposal was passed to city or county transportation officials (it is unclear whether it was directed to City of Miami staff, or if the Miami-Dade TPO was consulted), who were instructed to investigate the risks. Given the speed at which everything happened during the initial weeks of the pandemic, this investigation consisted of a few phone calls to other cities in the know, to gain quick knowledge as to whether the shared micromobility equipment would, indeed, pose a transmission hazard.
Shortly thereafter, the word came back to the City Commission that shared micromobility equipment posed a low risk, if high-contact surfaces were regularly cleaned and if patrons used due diligence to disinfect touchpoints as per CDC guidelines. Notably, rideshare poses an equal if not greater risk.
In other words, no micromobility shutdown.
This upset Commissioner Reyes. But he was aware of another option.
The City of Miami is under Miami-Dade County’s Home Rule Charter – which allows an emergency order from the Mayor of Miami-Dade County to override decisions made at the City level. Reyes also knew that Miami-Dade’s current mayor, Carlos A. Gimenez, would always take on an opportunity to perturb his rival, City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
So another phone call was made – this one from Reyes to Gimenez.
Sure enough, on March 18th, Gimenez signed Miami-Dade Emergency Order 05-20, “prohibiting the use of commercial mopeds and scooters.” In the emergency order, dockless and docked bikes are also prohibited from operation as well.
This is where we still are today. Despite a nationwide bicycle shortage, the continued operation of rideshare during the entire pandemic, advice from other cities, and recommendations from the CDC, Miami’s micromobility pilot is shut down. Not only are e-scooters affected, established docked bike share operators CitiBike Miami and RideOn Miami are banned from operating as well.
All because of a petty political feud.
That’s the story, as best as we’ve heard it. As we mentioned earlier, our local leaders know when to do things by phone, so public records bring up next to nil. Nevertheless, we felt it important to publish what we’ve heard to-date.
After all, why should we doubt the information? Gimenez is on his last term, so he has nothing to lose. Reyes hasn’t made his dislike of scooters a secret. Their motivations are as transparent as cellophane.
Plus, the story is too outrageous to conjure up in the first place. When it sounds like something out of Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, you’ve hit on typical Miami politics.
Updates will be posted if/when new information comes to light.