By DOTTY NIST
Set to be presented to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on Oct. 12 will be a request for proposals (RFP) for a company or companies to rent out motorized scooters in a pilot program recently approved by Walton County.
Approved by the BCC on Sept. 14, the Motorized Scooter Pilot Program has had community members much more aggravated than enthused. The stand-up rental scooters that it would involve have presented problems upon coming to many areas of the country, resulting in bans being enacted in a number of areas. However, banning these scooters has not been possible in Florida due to a state mandate that they must be allowed anywhere bicycles may be ridden.
With a temporary county moratorium in place on the scooter rentals to allow time for regulations applying to the devices to be created, the BCC approved the pilot program ordinance a couple of weeks before the moratorium was due to expire.
The ordinance sets strict standards for any companies who may be interested in serving as vendors for the rental scooters. The draft ordinance presented to the BCC by Walton County Planning and Development Services was approved with just a couple of modifications, one clarifying that there would be no scooter rentals to anyone under the age of 18 and the other that hours of operation for the scooters would be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Speaking of the RFP for the pilot program at the Sept. 14 BCC meeting, Walton County Planning Manager Kristen Shell explained that approval of the pilot program was the first step—and that for operating permits to be issued to scooter rental companies, approving and advertising the RFP would be the next step. She noted that there are numerous operating requirements and procedural requirements that any company or companies selected by the county would have to abide by in order to operate in Walton County under the pilot program.
Will rental motorized scooters be coming to Walton County under the pilot program? This is unknown at this time, and scooter rentals would not be allowed other than through this county-regulated program.
Contacted on Sept. 20, Shell said that thus far she had only heard from one company, a small local one, who was interested in providing the scooter rentals. She did not know whether that company would still be interested, considering the regulations that the county had established.
Shell said she was close to finishing writing up the RFP, which is to be presented to the BCC on Oct. 12 for consideration. She noted that the entry fee for a company to participate in the pilot program would be $20,000, per the RFP.