Transportation

After Misstep with Scooter Companies, Cities Look to Neighbors for Guidance

While Lime has agreed to stop service in Meridian until March, Boise is in the midst of working out agreements with Lime and Bird that would allow those companies to operate within city limits.

by Sven Berg, The Idaho Statesman / October 10, 2018
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(TNS) — Scooter-share company Lime has agreed to stop service in Meridian, Idaho, until March, city staffers told the city council.

The company ran into problems within a day of launching in Meridian, its first Idaho market, Sept. 28. Customers were leaving rented electric scooters on sidewalks or blocking wheelchair ramps.

The company admitted mistakes in rolling out the service and suspended it. On Tuesday, a city newsletter announced that Meridian was asking Lime to hold off restarting until roughly March 15. That date could move up if Meridian and the company reach a new agreement sooner, the staffers who briefed the city council said.

It’s possible that Lime could start serving Boise before then.

Dockless, or stationless, bike-sharing services started popping up about a year and a half ago in cities like San Francisco and San Diego. They were popular in Europe before that.

Boise is still working out the details of agreements with Lime and a competitor, Bird, that would allow those companies to operate within city limits, Administrative Services Manager Craig Croner said Tuesday. The Boise City Council passed an ordinance in August to regulate bike- and scooter-share companies.

Boise is taking its time is to avoid the same hangups Lime has faced in Meridian, whose regulations on Lime were limited to a memorandum of understanding that Mayor Tammy de Weerd and Lime Regional General Manager Jason Wilde signed Aug. 26, Croner said.

Boise’s agreements with Lime could be finished and both companies launched in Boise by the end of this month, he said.

Meridian city staffers say they want to see how Boise’s approach works before setting Meridian’s rules. They said Bird also has its eye on Meridian, though it does not plan to start service right away.

Customers download apps for Lime (formerly known as LimeBike), Bird and other companies, such as Ofo, Razor and Spin, to their smartphones. The app shows the location of available bikes or scooters. A customer scans a QR code on the bike to unlock it. When customers are done using the bikes, they lock them again and park them.

Customers don’t have to lock the bikes to a rack or any other kind of station, and that has caused some irritation.

San Diego learned the hard way not to allow dockless shared bikes in the area around Petco Park, where the Padres play baseball, Croner said. On game days, people left hundreds of bikes littering the walkways around the stadium, and when the games were over, the exiting crowds tripped over them.

Similar “geofencing” would be established in Boise, Croner said, though the city hasn’t established off-limits zones.

The Idaho Press first reported that Lime would be out of Meridian until March.

©2018 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.