The scooters are back in town.
Lime’s electric scooters hit the streets of St. Paul this morning, and more will be rolling out in Minneapolis soon, the company said in a press release today. After a successful pilot program last year, St. Paul is welcoming Lime and other scooters back—but with additional rules in place.
The scooter craze in St. Paul started out a bit bumpy with the city’s Department of Public Works asking Lime’s competitor, Bird, to remove their scooters from the sidewalks last July while they created a framework for how to deal with them. The Santa Monica, California-based company had placed their scooters in St. Paul without a permit.
With mounting pressures from micromobility companies and the growing scooter trend around the country, St. Paul implemented a four-month pilot program beginning last August, allowing companies like Bird and Lime to operate, says St. Paul transportation planner and engineer Reuben Collins.
Now, the scooters are back for another season until November 30, when winter prevents practical or safe usage. Lime’s fleet arrived today, and Bird and newcomer Spin are expected to follow.
“We always intended to bring [electric scooters] back,” Collins says. “What we learned in the pilot program last year is that people like them, and they were effective at accomplishing our transportation goals for the city. So, we’re excited to have them back again for 2019, and we’ve made a few changed to the program this year that we think will help us better manage the program and help them be more successful.”
One change is the number of scooters that can be located in downtown St. Paul, with a cap at 150 scooters per vendor for a total of 450 scooters. Collins says the City hopes this will also help push the scooters out into surrounding neighborhoods.
In addition, Collins says, a minimum of 30 percent of each fleet must be in “racially concentrated areas of poverty,” where the City feels they can be most useful.
With Lime’s launch today, the company’s scooters are also being placed in the Minnesota State Capitol Complex, a first-time area for any micromobility company.
Lime is partnering with Twin Cities R!SE—a nonprofit helping those in poverty to achieve long-term, stable employment—as their Lime Hero partner. The Lime Hero program allows riders to select if they would like to add a small additional percentage to the cost of their trip that will be given back to local nonprofit organizations.
Minneapolis just announced a pilot program of their own this week with four participating companies: Lime, Jump, Lyft, and Spin. The total number of scooters allowed in the city is capped at 2,000, divided evenly between the companies, with no more than 800 scooters allowed in downtown, and a minimum of 600 scooters required in low-income areas.
Currently in Minneapolis, the only alternative transportation rideshare vehicles available are Nice Ride bikes, which rolled out on Monday, as no scooters have yet hit Minneapolis streets, but all of the scooter operators are expected to join the fray sometime this spring.