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Micro-mobility – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Since taking the U.S by storm in 2018, the term “micro-mobility” has been a topic of conversation in most all tourist towns. Micro-mobility refers to personal vehicles used to transport one or two passengers. Since the time you climbed aboard a tricycle, you became a micro-mobility driver. Additional powered and non-powered micro vehicles include peddle bicycles, electric bicycles, scooters and small electric cars.

There are numerous benefits to increased micro-mobility vehicle usage. For residents of large cities needing to traverse numerous blocks, it’s simply easier to get around town on a scooter than it is to walk the distance, catch a subway or order a rideshare. As more people choose these convenient vehicles, cities experience reduced traffic congestion, decreased parking issues and lower greenhouse emissions.

Many urban areas have implemented electronic share systems that provide a dockless vehicle or bicycle rental. The dockless systems provide users with an ability to unlock and access vehicles through a smartphone app. This option allows visitors to use vehicles for touring the city and supplements residents with additional transportation options for work and recreation.

However, as micro-mobility options increase so do the chances of accidents on shared sidewalks and roads that have not been designed to suit both pedestrians and vehicles. Additionally, park and lock locations can be limited, and renters have been known to abandon vehicles in improper locations.

City planners and governments have learned that a holistic approach to transportation is needed and that a full spectrum of vehicle options is essential for effectively moving people around a city. It is a coordinated effort between city personnel, rental companies and the general public. Best practices for implementing a micro-mobility system are evolving as contractual, safety and operational knowledge is gained.

In Texas, scooters are legal on streets that have a 35mph speed limit or below. While they are also legal on sidewalks - if a municipality has not passed a law stating otherwise - State Bill 549 seeks to ban this practice for the safety of pedestrians. Currently, a driver’s license is not required to operate a scooter and drivers must be 15 years of age or older. Although always a good idea, helmets are not required under Texas law.

In the City of Galveston, most streets have a maximum speed limit of 35mph, making them suitable to scooter use. However, city officials have continuously hampered the use of scooters as a viable form of transportation. Currently, the city prohibits dockless vehicles, hindering the implementation of multiple, easy-access stations to allow for convenient use of such vehicles.

Until a comprehensive and viable option is approved by Galveston, Salt Water Gift Shop provides e-scooters, quadracycles and bicycles for use on the island. Our start-and-stop location is ideally located at East Beach with quick access to beaches, the Seawall, The Strand and dozens of great restaurants, shops and bars. If you want more pickup and drop off locations, please let Galveston city officials know that you are a supporter of the micro-mobility movement.

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