Monday, October 22, 2018

City Removes Lime Scooters

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2018 at 2:55 PM

click to enlarge A Lime scooter on Main Street. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • A Lime scooter on Main Street.
City crews began removing Lime scooters from Memphis streets Monday morning, according to city officials, and as for the company’s future here, according to a spokesman for the mayor's office, ”we’re really going to just have to see how the process goes.”

Lime, a tech and transportation company based in San Mateo, Calif., left its electric scooters on Memphis streets Friday morning. The move came with no warning to citizens and, apparently, no permission from city leaders.

In a statement issued from Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s office late Friday, the scooters were to be removed if the company didn’t come and get them. It didn’t, and the city began rounding up the scooters Monday morning, according to Dan Springer, Strickland's deputy director for media affairs.

“The ordinance clearly spells out that in order to deploy shared mobility assets, a permit needs to be applied for and an operating agreement with the city entered into,” Springer said. “Lime ignored that statement.”
The threat to remove Lime’s scooters had some scratching their heads, wondering if the city was playing favorites with Bird, the company’s competitor. Commercial Appeal columnist Ryan Poe said in his column, The 901, on Monday that “blocking Lime while letting Bird continue to spread its wings isn't just unfair — it sends a message to the world that Memphis is closed to competition.”

Springer said city officials have been talking with Lime for “a while now.” Though, they have been doing ”everything they need to do,” Lime does not have a permit and does not have a temporary operating agreement with the city like Bird does.

Bird started with 200 scooters here and now has north of 600. Under that company’s agreement, it cannot expand unless it provides proof that ridership demands it. Springer said, “They are not currently hitting that number. The market is not ready for growth yet.”
Springer said this kind of a shared mobility network — the scooters hanging around everywhere — is still in a test phase. Whether or not a company other than Bird can be part of that test is still unknown, Springer said, as is Lime’s future here.

“We’re really going to just have to see how the process goes,” Springer said. “They’ve not demonstrated that they are wiling to play by the rules thus far.”

Kemp Conrad, a Memphis City Council member instrumental in Bird’s arrival in Memphis, said it’s the administration’s job to decide how many scooter operators the city can have, not the council's.
As for the administration, “We don’t have anything against Lime or anything like that,” Springer said.

“When the city is satisfied that safety and right-of-way issues have been adequately addressed by the pilot, the city will consider expanding the scooter fleet with other shared mobility providers,” he said.

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