Mobility program dropped in favor of ban

Mobility program dropped in favor of ban
Local residents Thomas Pechous and Tracey Thrall, along with architect Jeff Conner, are working to bring bike share docking stations like these to various Island locations, if they receive approval from the three city commissions. - Submitted | Mobile Muttley's

HOLMES BEACH – The wait is over for the owners of Mobile Muttley’s, at least in Holmes Beach. Commissioners agreed in a 3-2 informal vote during a July 9 work session to not move forward with a one-year pilot program for an alternate mobility share service, in this case, docked bicycles.

Instead, commissioners are now considering an outright ban on mobility share services, including docked and dockless bicycles and electric scooters. The ban is planned to be citywide.

Commissioners briefly considered allowing docked bicycle sharing services on private property with a site plan review but decided in an informal 3-2 vote to prohibit those as well to prevent opening the issue up to large companies coming into the Island and bringing bicycles share stations that have limited oversight.

Commissioner Rick Hurst said that he believes the commission either needs to ban the share services outright or find a small company to come in and run them. The previously proposed one-year trial period, he said, would be difficult for a small local business to fund with the knowledge that their ability to operate in the city could be taken back after only a year for any reason. To offer the trial period, Hurst said, would open it up to a large national company that already has equipment ready to install that could easily be relocated if the trial in Holmes Beach didn’t work out. He added that it would need to be an Island-wide effort to make it worthwhile for any business owner.

Mayor Judy Titsworth agreed.

“What you’ve done is open it up,” she said. “If you don’t prohibit it, you’ve made it a free-for-all.”

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said that she would work on the prohibition language as well as changes to the land development code to ban electric scooters from the city. The ban on electric scooters applies only to recreational electric and battery-powered scooters, not mobility assistance devices that assist those with medical issues.

Related coverage

Bicycle share on hold in Holmes Beach

Bike share regulations on hold

Locals present bike share option to city commissioners