This past Monday, a representative from Lime, the electric scooter and bike company, spoke to the members of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Transportation Committee. Nima Daivari, Operations Manager & Community Affairs at Lime, told the committee his company has provided more than 13 million rides since they started operating in June 2017.
“Scooters are a great first mile and last mile solution,” said Daivari, referring to the challenge of bringing riders to transportation centers. “Thirty preeent of our rides start at a transit station, and dockless scooters can be used everywhere, making transportation more equitable and accessible.” It costs a $1 to unlock a scooter, and 15 cents for every minute ridden. Riders need a credit card and a mobile phone to access the devices.
Daivari also told the committee that the typical Lime rider is more likely male than female, though scooters are attracting more women than pedal bikes. Also, just over fifty percent of riders earn less than $75,000 annually. (Daivari said they don’t keep this kind of data on users, but they do ask users to answer surveys.)
Committee members asked Daivari about complaints about speed and safety of the scooters. Daivari said his company emphatically discourages riding scooters on sidewalks, but many riders still use the sidewalk because it feels safer than being on the street. Daivari said Lime and others are working with bike coalitions and city planners to share information on usage to inform urban planners.
Currently, the speed of the scooter is set by over-the-air controls at 22 mph. Using those controls, the company can also adjust the speeds, create electronic fences where the scooters will automatically slow down, and track exactly where the scooters are parked. He explained that Lime’s 24 hour operation also allows them to respond to calls to pick up scooters improperly parked within 2 hours of receiving the call. Daivari also said Lime will be integrating their serve with the City of LA’s 311 system, so residents can call 311 if a scooter is blocking a sidewalk or needs to be moved.
Finally on the safety questions, Daivari said that even though helmets are not required for riders over the age of 18, the company is working on an alternative style helmet that might work for riders who want to wear one.
Daivari said the dockless vehicle industry in general, and Lime in particular, is still very new…and the company is constantly updating the design of the scooter and the industry business model. He cited examples of cities around the US and in Europe that have made scooters work in urban areas, giving people clean energy options for getting around their neighborhoods. Though scooters will never replace cars, he said, they do provide clean energy alternatives that consumers are increasingly interested in using.
Daivari said his company would like to see the City of Los Angeles develop guidelines for operations. (The City of LA recently announced a pilot program for use of dockless scooters that will start in January.) He also said he thinks the temporary bans on scooters in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills will change as more and more people see how to use scooters to get around.
“NY has figured it out; Europe is welcoming scooters,” said Daivari. “We want an organized, orderly system, with appropriate parking spots.” He told the committee to look at how cities like Austin, Portland and locally Monrovia are providing infrastructure to ride and park the vehicles.
Overall, the committee seemed impressed with the presentation, and individual members expressed support for the use of scooters, though there was no quorum so no official votes were taken.
In other business, outgoing Transportation Committee Chair Julie Stromberg turned the gavel over to incoming Chair Conrad Starr, who will preside over the next meeting on January 21, 2019. Visit the GWNC website for the meeting agenda.