Lime scooter users in Little Rock required to ride on sidewalks instead of roads | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lime scooter users in Little Rock required to ride on sidewalks instead of roads

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 3:39 PM

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The Jan. 8 launch of a six-month pilot project between the city of Little Rock and Lime has brought dozens of pay-as-you-go e-scooters downtown, and Little Rock joins over a hundred other U.S. cities with Lime partnerships. But Little Rock riders are unique: City Ordinance 32-463 prohibits "scooters" and other devices, such as roller skates, from being ridden on roads except when crossing the street on a crosswalk. The devices must be ridden on sidewalks at all times. (Bicycles, on the other hand, must be ridden on paved roads or tracts specifically designated for them.)

In an emailed statement, Lime* wrote that it "advises riders to follow local riding, traffic and safety laws in each market in which it operates. Little Rock is unique in that it requires scooters to be ridden on the sidewalks at this time.”

Todd O’Boyle, director of government relations in the Southeast for Lime, said the company attempts to help enforce the ordinance in Little Rock through messages within the app that remind riders of safety instructions tailored to their region.

“The app has the correct local instructions for local policy,” he said. “We’ve reinforced that with pop up notifications and in-app messaging so that riders know where to be in Little Rock.”

Officer Eric Barnes, spokesman for the Little Rock Police Department, said safety is the LRPD's primary concern. “I think we’re hopeful that people would just follow guidelines, and our biggest deal is we want people to be safe with them,” he said. “They’re in a part of the city [where] a lot of tourists do go, so we want people to go and have fun, definitely. We just want everyone to do that safely.”

Barnes said riders cannot receive a DWI on a scooter, but if a rider is in a state of intoxication, police would still follow the public intoxication law.

At the time of the Lime launch, a news release* from Lime read that “Lime-S riders must be 18 years or older, have a valid driver’s license, and wear a helmet.” The company spells out these requirements for its riders, O’Boyle said, with in-app messaging.

“Riders must agree to our terms of service before they can use a scooter, and additionally, we reinforce that with messaging on the device that says 18-plus, and messaging that says to be sure to wear a helmet,” he said.

In Arkansas, only motorcycle passengers under the age of 21 are legally required to wear helmets. According to O’Boyle, driver’s license verification on the app is required in some markets, but Little Rock is not one of them.

For those who wish to get a little radical during a ride by doing jumps or tricks to get some “air,” O’Boyle said, they’ll be out of luck on a Lime. “I think what you’ll find is when you take your first ride with Lime, the weight and the balance of the vehicle would not be conducive [to tricks].”

A Lime is only as good as its Juicer, which is the title given to the folks who sign up to work for Lime by gathering up scooters at night for recharging. O’Boyle said Lime’s “general operational model” is to have the scooters out every morning around 8 a.m. Juicers retrieve the scooters using a tracking app around 9 p.m. and charge them at home.

According to the company’s website, Lime scooters can go up to just under 15 miles an hour, and they pick up pretty fast, as discovered in a test run by the Times' Brooke Wallace. On a full charge, the battery can last for 20-plus miles. O’Boyle said Lime's data shows  average trip lengths are far shorter than that.

“From a rider’s perspective, we’re thinking about how far they are going, and we find that the bulk of our trips are at that last mile of transportation, which is the hardest piece of the puzzle in the transportation world,” he said. “The bulk of our trips are short, a mile or less, and we find that that’s people going to and from meetings, going to see friends, stopping at a local cafe or boutique. … Our batteries are more than capable of getting people over the last mile.”

If a rider is really enjoying her time on a Lime scooter, can she use it to travel all the way home?

“We’ve seen a strong commuting ridership on our scooters,” O’Boyle said. “We have an agreement with the city that allows us to operate anywhere within the city of Little Rock, so I’m sure people are riding from downtown to a home that might be a little farther away. That’s why we’re constantly gathering data on usage patterns, and that helps us understand where we want to concentrate the next phase of our deployment.”

According to O’Boyle, the January launch of Lime was the product of several months of collaboration, beginning in October, and the company remains in regular contact with the city  to help determine the future of the project.

O’Boyle also said Little Rock has reacted positively to Lime’s launch.

“We’ve seen strong interest in the community and we’ve been very pleased, both with juicers and with ridership. Ridership has been great,” he said. “We’re seeing a strong trip generation in Little Rock and we’ve had interest from across the community saying, 'We like Lime, we’d love to see more of it in our neighborhood,' so we, of course, are filing all that away as we think about increasing our deployment and growing into the next phase of our deployment.”

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to a Lime PR spokesperson by name instead of attributing quotes to "Lime."

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