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. NOTE: In his defense, he does understand the importance of safe bicycle networks.
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.
However, 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 reportedly reached out to Miami-Dade’s current mayor, Carlos A. Gimenez, about the issue.
And Gimenez, always eager to make the wrong call in regards to anything transit related – not to mention eager to perturb the City of Miami’s Mayor, Francis Suarez – decided to ban everything. Scooters, bikes, mopeds, the works.
More specifically, on March 18th, Gimenez signed Miami-Dade Emergency Order 05-20, “prohibiting the use of commercial mopeds and scooters.”
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.
That’s the story, as best as we’ve heard it. As we mentioned earlier, most of this was done via 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. His motivations have been as transparent as cellophane for years.
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.