Anticipating large numbers of day-trippers coming via SunRail to DeBary for its natural beauty and small-town charm, city leaders are poised to welcome and regulate companies that offer visitors cheaper and quicker ways to get around the city.
The DeBary City Council April 7 tentatively approved a measure pertaining to micromobility. That is a fancy term refers to bicycles and electric scooters that can be rented by visitors “who get off the train and don’t have a private vehicle,” according to DeBary Growth Management Director Matt Boerger.
“We actually modeled this after Orlando’s ordinance,” Boerger said. “We try to learn from their experience.”
Boerger added the proposal to establish and regulate single-person vehicles will be a draw for visitors.
“The SunRail would be a location. A certain micro-brewery in the industrial area might be a location,’ he said.
As DeBary grows, and its Transit Overlay District develops into a vibrant marketplace and must-see destination, Boerger and others see the area around the SunRail depot as a likely place to get a one-person transportation device and tour DeBary.
“This has been in the works for a long time,” Mayor Karen Chasez said.
Under the draft measure, the city would license up to two companies that would rent bikes or scooters, and each company would be permitted to have a maximum of 200 motorized micromobility devices.
In all, DeBary would have a total of 400 such people-movers available for rent. DeBary would also gain from the rentals, as the companies would pay the city 25 cents per ride.
Other provisions in the ordinance forbid these single-rider transportation devices on sidewalks. Electric bicycles or electric scooters would be limited to speeds of no more than 20 miles per hour, and the maximum allowed speed would be set by a governor on each device. Also, renters must be at least 18 years of age.
The companies must carry a minimum of $2 million of general liability insurance.
Yet another proposed requirement for micromobility rental companies is to provide geofencing for its rental devices.
Geofencing refers to the use of global-positioning-satellite or radio-frequency-identification technology to set boundaries for the operation of the electric bicycles or electric scooters, and alerting the user if he/she is leaving the defined area. The alerts may come as a text message or in an app.
“I personally would be in favor of helmets,” City Council Member Patricia Stevenson suggested, noting the lack of such a safety requirement.
“Personally, I would have a helmet on myself,” Chasez said.
The mayor said the micromobility ordinance is DeBary’s way “to establish the rules well ahead of time.”
The City Council adopted the ordinance on first reading with a unanimous vote. The ordinance faces a second and final vote in May.