A month after Bird scooters mysteriously appeared, Lime has put its own twist on the alternative transportation trend as nearly 200 scooters arrived in East Lansing on Oct. 5.
“We’ve been looking at the capital region for a long time, and we know that our scooters ... can really have an impact in how people get around,” Lime's Director of Northeast Expansion Scott Mullen said.
Now with the city playing host to two companies offering dockless electric scooters, the East Lansing City Council has been considering new local ordinances to manage the surge, according to a city press release.
Council Member Shanna Draheim said Lime has been in contact with the city for over a month discussing how their products would integrate into the area.
The presence of Lime scooters — which will leave during the winter months — in East Lansing was described as a “pilot period” by Draheim. Draheim said she was supportive of the new transportation method and spoke at the press conference for Lime’s launch in Lansing.
“They were interested in bringing the scooters. They like to work with cities in advance and work out issues around where scooters can and should be used and parked, to identify any unique concerns or issues that might be happening in the city,” Draheim said.
Community partnership is a major factor in how Lime does business, Mullen said. The company has a verbal agreement with the city and is communicating with other local entities including MSU and the Lansing Economic Area Partnership.
“We have a very collaborative approach to cities. We’ve had great conversations both with Lansing and East Lansing and with CATA,” Mullen said. “Our vision is to change the way people get around the capital region ... This is about heading into the future and getting there together.”
Mullen said he was eager to bring the scooters to the growing Lansing area.
“There’s something happening in the capital region," Mullen said. "There’s been a nice uptick in energy and there seems to be a buzz there. There’s going to be a new grocery store, lots of stuff happening, so we want to be part of that buzz.”
Their competitor, Bird, has not had such a close relationship with East Lansing since the company's scooters arrived in the city without warning earlier this fall. The company's riders have struggled to obey local ordinances for how the scooters should be properly parked and ridden, leading to over 100 impounded Bird scooters.
Mullen said there are measures in place to guide riders to use their scooters responsibly.
“The cities have identified parking, sidewalk riding, the things that are issues; we have in-app messages and reminders, safety videos online,” Mullen said. “Because we track both rider and vehicle, if we identify a pattern of bad behavior we’re able to restrict access.”
The state of Michigan is also taking safety seriously when it comes to the scooters. The city's press release outlined new state laws regarding “electric skateboards,” which includes electric scooters.
The laws, which went into effect on Sept. 18, allow only one person to ride the scooters at a time, require those under the age of 19 to wear a helmet and state that riders must stay as far to the right as possible when driving in roadways, among other guidelines.
“I think these can be an exciting and good transportation mode, but I definitely want people to be mindful and safe,” Draheim said.
MSU student Joyce Chen said she enjoys the scooters on campus and often uses them to bridge gaps in her transportation.
“I think that it’s very convenient, and in a way it’s pretty cheap," Chen said. "It’s very useful, especially for off-campus students.”