- Courtesy Lime
Transportation-share company Lime has a long wait ahead of it before it can re-deploy its e-scooters in Meridian. On Tuesday, the city announced it had asked Lime to tap the brakes on its operations until mid-March. According to a press release, Meridian called on Lime to work toward fulfilling its agreement with the city—specifically by reaching out to local stakeholders like local businesses, law enforcement, the Ada County Highway District and the Idaho Transportation Department.
Lime has also been asked to undertake a program of "education and outreach" regarding the safe and courteous use of e-scooters.
Another company that has petitioned Meridian to do business there, e-scooter company Bird, has also been asked to delay its rollout until mid-March.
Original Post: Oct. 8, 2018, 4 p.m.:
The saga of transportation-share company Lime in the Treasure Valley is full of ups and downs, but talking to Lime's community engagement specialist Megan Colford and one thing is clear: A few bumps on the road won't stop the company from launching in the City of Trees.
"We’re looking forward to being able to launch," she said. "We’ve been in really close contact with the city, and so a lot of different stakeholders are really interested to see them deploy in a place that has a lot of really great bike infrastructure."
Readers first learned about Lime's plans to do business in Boise in May, when it delivered a presentation to the Boise City Council. That presentation prompted some outcry from stakeholders—enough so that the council spent months crafting a set of ordinances to corral transportation-shares.
The ordinances were finalized in August, and soon thereafter, Lime submitted an application to do business in Boise. That process is ongoing, and a rollout is expected on or about Monday, Oct. 15.
Boise hasn't been Lime's first stop in the Treasure Valley. In late September, 200 of its e-scooters hit the streets of Meridian, but on Oct. 2, amid reports that several scooters had been impounded by the Ada County Highway District, Lime representatives told the Meridian City Council it would pull the scooters while it regrouped.
"From our end, when we have an agreement, we assume everything is tied up and we're ready to start launching, Colford said. "The [Meridian] City Council voted to move forward, and everywhere else, that means we're able to launch. We had a locally hired team that was really excited to get moving. From my perspective, it seems like some sort of miscommunication or misaligned expectations. We're sad about that because we thought we were doing everything we thought was right, but I guess it wasn't."
At issue was where and how the scooters had been parked. The 13 of them impounded by ACHD had been parked in the right of way, in violation of Lime's agreement with the City of Meridian and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether the culprits were riders who had parked the scooters incorrectly, or the independent contractors known as "juicers" who charge the scooters during low-ridership hours, remains ambiguous, but education about etiquette and the proper placement of scooters after charging or use is part of Lime's plan going forward.
The snafu in Meridian hasn't, however, had an impact on its projected rollout in Boise, with city leaders placing their faith in the bank of ordinances designed to contain transportation-shares. The rules created a licensure program, complete with a fee structure and a 250-device maximum for each licensee.
Lime plans to release 250 e-scooters—the legal maximum—in Boise, without launching any of its bikes or e-bikes. The limitation on the number of allowed devices, Colford said, will make it difficult for the company to serve all parts of the city.
"Based on what we've seen in other, similar markets, we're going to see those 250 scooters used a lot, and we may see people asking for more," she said, the company hasn't ruled out eventually asking the city to increase its device maximum. "I'm not sure we're going to be able to get the distribution we want across all parts of the city, and in a lot of ways it can become an equity issue if we can't serve all parts of the city."
Colford said that while Lime is a "multi-modal company" that often releases dockless bikes and e-bikes along with e-scooters in the markets it serves, its decision to start in Boise with a fleet of e-scooters is meant as an introduction.
"Having more options tends to create ridership," said Colford. "That being said, we've seen scooters really be the thing that moves the needle the most when it comes to trying something new. Scooters are a great vehicle to start with."