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Monday, June 17, 2024

Gainesville City Commission extends e-scooter hours, improves cyclist safety

One ordinance also limited parking requirements

Gainesville City Commission is zeroing in on improving transportation alternatives. 

Commissioners voted Thursday to extend public scooter operation hours, modify parking lot requirements and increase safety infrastructure for cyclists.

Only the parking ordinance saw a split 4-3 vote, with Commissioners David Arreola, Adrian Hayes-Santos, Reina Saco and Mayor Lauren Poe in favor. Commissioners Cynthia Chestnut, Desmon Duncan-Walker and Harvey Ward in dissent. The two other votes saw unanimous approval.

The City Commission voted to extend the potential operation hours of short-term rental of e-scooters and similar vehicles.

Prior to the ordinance, these vehicles could not operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The companies will have the ability to extend service hours in the future to gather data and test if services at later hours are necessary and safe, Poe said. 

For changing parking lot requirements, new building developments will no longer have to include a minimum number of parking spaces.

Previously, salons and barbershops required two parking spots per chair, bowling alleys required two spots per lane and car washes required three spots per employee, among other buildings’ requirements. 

Commissioners also introduced a maximum number of units for new parking lot spaces. 

Now, new constructions seeking over 200 parking spots will require a structured lot, like a parking garage. The Publix located at Hunter’s Crossing, for comparison, has 180 spots. Oaks Mall has 840.

By removing the minimum requirements across all buildings, the ordinance hopes to reduce large, underused lots. If parking spaces become more compact, it would take pedestrians less time to walk to and from their cars. 

The ordinance also addresses environmental concerns, Poe said.

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Non-structured parking lots become heat sinks, which can increase urban areas’ temperatures by as much as 10 degrees, according to an American Society of Civil Engineers report. They also can contribute to storm surge.

The city’s environmental and alternative transport push continued by advancing new protections for cyclists.

Commissioners voted to require bike ramps at roundabouts and more protected bike lanes on roads with speed limits 30 miles or higher per hour.

These changes will be made as roads are repaved, according to an amendment to one of the city’s design manuals.

“Those are big changes to help our city move forward on creating a connected bike network,” Hayes-Santos said.

The amendment is a part of Vision Zero, the city’s strategy to reduce traffic deaths and serious injury.

The e-scooter and cycling infrastructure goes into effect immediately, but the parking modification requires a second vote. As of Thursday night, the second vote is not yet scheduled.

Contact Aidan at Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.

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Aidan Bush

Aidan Bush is a third-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Engagement Managing Editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he likes to listen to music and go kayaking.

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