Lime pay-as-you-go electric scooters are available starting today in the River Market as part of a six-month pilot project between Lime and the city of Little Rock. Up to 500 scooters could eventually be deployed downtown during the pilot. The scooters cost $1 to unlock with an app and 15 cents per minute of riding thereafter.
The scooters are dockless, which means they don’t have to be returned to a designated location. I’ve witnessed during travel outside of Arkansas that sometimes means the sidewalks of highly trafficked parts of a city will be littered with scooters.
Lime obviously knows this is a bad look. From a press release:
To make sure scooters are parked responsibly throughout Little Rock, Lime employees and local Juicers will be collecting them on a daily basis, charging them overnight and redistributing them the next day in approved areas so that they are on the sidewalks fully charged, maintained, and ready to be ridden every morning. This also helps us ensure they are stood upright and parked responsibly so that they do not block pedestrian right-of-way or obstruct any sidewalks or roadways.
“Local Juicers” are people who get paid to pick up the scooters at night and charge them.
Lime bills itself as the “largest shared bike and scooter provider” in the U.S. It says it operates in more than 100 markets in five continents. Lime and its main rival, Bird, launched in 2017. They’re now each valued at $2 billion. But as this article from The Verge suggests, depreciation costs and vandalism have some investors wary of the companies.
In October, Lime recalled 2,000 scooters, less than one percent of its total fleet, following several fires. The startup placed the blame on Ninebot, which makes most of the scooters used in sharing services in the US. Ninebot, in turn, severed its relationship with Lime.
But these repair costs don’t take into account the costs associated with vandalism. Encouraged by social media, anti-scooter types have knocked them into the streets, thrown them off parking garages, or even doused them with lighter fluid and set them on fire. According to Slate, the city of Oakland had to fish 60 electric scooters out of Lake Merritt in just the month of October. Environmentalists are calling it a “crisis.”
More from the press release:
“Lime is thrilled to be the first and only e-scooter provider in Little Rock. We look forward to providing residents with affordable, equitable, environmentally-friendly and safe transportation solutions to meet their needs, starting in River Market. We’re eager to continue our discussions with the City so that we can expand our service area to other neighborhoods throughout Little Rock in the near future.” – Todd O’Boyle, development director at Lime
Stay safe out there,