Reno files cease-and desist against Lime after scooter launch

Reno files cease-and desist against Lime after scooter launch
Those electric scooters like Bird and Lime? Theyre illegal in Mass.
As Cambridge officials begin to develop new rules of the road for electric scooters that can be rented with a smartphone app, officials say it will probably be months before they can welcome them back.

The reason is a state law that requires powered scooters to include brake lights and turn signals, which most rental scooters do not have. And until they do, city officials said they cannot authorize their return to Cambridge streets.

The law was created during the rise of the moped. While the new rental scooters may be more closely related to childhood toys, like mopeds, they have a motor and can propel the machine up to 15 miles per hour.

“In the City of Reno, Lime e-scooters fit the definition of moped under Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) and therefore must comply with all motor vehicle laws. Public safety is the citys top priority, and Lime has chosen to put scooter riders in danger without regard to state law.

Ann Arbor confiscates Bird scooters for violating ordinance

Cambridge transportation director Joe Barr said the state law probably has to change before Cambridge can permit scooters to operate on city streets. But even if lawmakers are willing, they are out of formal session for the remainder of 2018 and almost certainly cannot change the law until next year.

“We must now unfortunately explore all options to keep our citizens safe, and continue to keep every business accountable if they violate the law. A cease and desist letter was sent to Lime earlier today demanding that deployment and operations of electric scooters end immediately.”

“We’re kind of waiting on the next steps,” Barr said. “My guess is we won’t see these deployed in any meaningful way until after the law is resolved.”

“Lime presented to Reno City Council on September 12, 2018, and indicated they would gather more information and update the Council again prior to launching the scooters. It is the Citys intention to still have that discussion at the next Council meeting on September 26, 2018.

The other option could be for the scooter companies to install the required components. While some models from major scooter startups Bird and Lime have brake lights, neither has blinkers.

From the start, weve always wanted to provide a better solution to transportation by giving people a convenient reliable ride whenever they needed one, he said. More people biking, scooting and walking is better for the city. With our bikes and scooters everywhere, we are helping to reduce the number of cars on the road, increase public transportation trips and provide equitable transportation options.

Santa Monica inaugurates electric scooter pilot program

Scott Mullen, Lime’s northeast expansion director, said it would be difficult to retrofit scooters with blinkers — and even if it could, riders would struggle to use the turn signals because one hand powers the machine while the other is positioned for the brake.

Santa Monica and our partner operators here today are dramatically reinventing how we think about traveling from point a to point b, he said. This pilot is another chapter in our long history of commitment to being a multimodal city where the car is not the only option to get around and fossil fuel transportation doesnt threaten our planet.

Chris Cherry, a University of Tennessee professor who studies safety issues with bicycles and new forms of transportation, said blinkers and brake lights probably wouldn’t make scooters any safer because they already travel at relatively slow speeds — a maximum of 15 miles an hour.

The rate of adoption on electric vehicles is much, much higher and much more engaging, he said. We think it really broadens the user base and gets more people out of cars and onto these light vehicles. We think it really is a game changer and were excited to introduce the jump product to the streets of Santa Monica.

“The speeds should be so low that braking distance and brake lights are just kind of overkill,” he said. “Would it justify redesigning the whole hardware and whole system? I don’t know. It would probably be easier to change the legislation.”

At the official program launch Monday, City officials acknowledged the communitys mixed feelings about dockless scooters but said participation in the pilot program requires the companies to address some of the frequent complaints such as improper parking and unsafe riding.

While scooter safety rules are not a unique problem to Massachusetts, the laws in other states and communities on electric scooters are all over the place. Some cities have set up regulations ahead of any arrivals allowing for their use, while others — such as San Francisco — have banned them until they could establish regulations. Milwaukee banned scooters this year, arguing they run afoul of Wisconsin law requiring safety features. New Jersey law would also appear to ban their use, although Lime offers its scooters in at least two communities in that state.

In a report to the citys Transportation Commission, which is meeting on Wednesday, the citys Planning & Development and Public Services departments also will update the commissioners on negotiations with Lime and Bird, two of the largest providers of dockless scooters in the Greater Los Angeles area. The City Council voted in June to ban the rental of such scooters within West Hollywoods borders. That vote was a reaction to a decision last spring by both Lime and Bird to drop scooters on West Hollywoods sidewalks, making them easily available to anyone with a mobile phone scooter app, without alerting City Hall.

Yet even before the recent craze, the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration argued that motorized scooters that don’t include seats, such as those offered by Lime and Bird, are not subject to federal vehicle standards.

Cambridge had sought guidance from state transportation officials over the legality of scooters, Barr said, but was told they could not make such a determination. MassDOT spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard said the agency “does not enforce scooter law” and said local police departments could decide whether to crack down.

In Defense of the Kick Scooter

Barr said Cambridge will next work with the city’s State House delegation to push a change in the law, as well as work with nearby cities to develop universal rules for Greater Boston.

City Hall staffers have created a stencil that states No E-Scooters on Sidewalks / Its the Law that will be painted on all four corners of each of 11 intersections of side streets with Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue and on the north side of Santa Monica in front of Plummer Park. Such stencils may address the concerns of some residents that those illegally riding the scooters on the sidewalks are unaware they are breaking the law.

In July and August, officials in Cambridge and Somerville butted heads with Bird after it deployed dozens of scooters without permission. Bird pulled out of the region after the cities began impounding scooters, claiming they violated local rules governing the sidewalks where the scooters were stored.

In July, Bird dropped dozens of their scooters on the streets of Cambridge and Somerville without any prior notice or permission. While the company said the number of rides taken by local residents soared, officials in both cities said they were illegally operating without a permit. When the scooters were not pulled from the streets, Cambridge and Somerville sent Bird cease-and-desist letters and began impounding the scooters. Eventually, the company agreed to withdraw its fleet while Cambridge and Somerville build a framework for regulating electric scooters.

At the time, the two cities said they would consider policies to allow the scooters. Cambridge began that process last week, with a hearing before the city council; in Somerville, officials said they had no update on the process.

Any local policy framework would also have to address how many scooters are allowed — as well as when and where. Compared to the few dozen to 100 deployed in Birds summer launch, Devereux says the companies have indicated they would have to have significantly more. Other cities have set a cap on scooters from anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand. Barr says theres a balance to be found between providing enough so that scooter sharing is a reliable option and financially sustainable business, but not so many that sidewalks are overcrowded.

No scooter company has tried to enter Boston yet. Mayor Martin J. Walsh has said he’s skeptical of the new transportation mode, but the Boston City Council this fall is expected to discuss whether scooters can operate in the city.

Following the surprise — and brief — deployment of dozens of Bird scooters this summer in Cambridge and Somerville, local officials and scooter-sharing companies are plotting a path forward for when and how to bring the vehicles back. Cambridge held a hearing on the subject last Wednesday, which was attended by representatives from Bird and Lime, another micro-mobility company hoping to bring scooters to the area. Scott Mullen, Limes director of expansion in the Northeast, says he was heartened by the discussion.

Still, Bird spokeswoman Mackenzie Long said the company hopes to work with the Cambridge transportation department “to get back on the road soon.” She did not specify a timeline. Mullen, with Lime, said he had hoped the companies may get to test their systems in Cambridge “before the snow starts flying.”

This being New England, another big issue is winter operations. Lime and Bird, which were both launched in Southern California, havent operated through any snowy seasons yet, though they did expand to Detroit and Minnesota this summer. Mullen says that unless its really cold, low temperatures shouldnt be a barrier. However, they would pull scooters from the streets on a case-by-case basis during snowfall. Barr says that Cambridge will be watching those cities to determine the best approach.

Bird and Lime representatives attended the hearing in Cambridge last Wednesday, and city councilors indicated they wanted to allow scooters back — but not without new rules that address a range of concerns.

Currently Lime Bikes are a $1 for every 30 minutes, for the Lime Scooters it will be a $1 to check out and 15 cents per minute after. Lime says they are working with the Cities of Reno and Sparks, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and UNR to get these scooters up and running. A main topic with these cities are where we can ride the scooters. "People can only ride in city streets and (we) recommend don't ride in trail or parks and the main concern with that is speed," says Cardona.

Among them: that scooters will endanger pedestrians or clutter sidewalks and other public spaces. Published reports have suggested scooter-related injuries are increasing in cities that allow them, though Lime and Bird argue they are still few and far between and say any new transportation mode would expect to experience injuries among users.

Councilors also discussed whether riders must have a driver’s license, which the companies require, and whether Cambridge should establish special lanes for scooters separate from bicycle and vehicle lanes. Officials also noted that they are unsure whether the scooters could operate in winter.

Controversy surrounding Bird scooters in Ann Arbor

“They are a good idea, I think,” said Councilor Jan Devereaux, who leads the chamber’s transportation initiatives. “The devil is in the details in terms of wanting them to be used safely. They are not toys.”

Lyft has launched its electric scooters in Santa Monica, Calif. as part of the city’s pilot program, joining both Bird and Lime, CNET first reported.

As part of the pilot program, Lyft can have up to 250 scooters on the streets at any one time. Riders must also be sure to stay within the service area of Santa Monica, and not venture out into the broader Los Angeles area. Otherwise, they’ll be fined.

Lyft’s launch in Santa Monica comes just a couple of weeks after the company deployed scooters in Denver, Colo. Lyft’s scooters cost $1 to unlock and then 15 cents per minute to ride. They can travel up to 15 mph.

Seriously. Stop riding scooters on the sidewalks.

Lyft’s chief rival Uber/JUMP, which received a permit to operate in Santa Monica, has yet to deploy any electric scooters. Though, it does have a partnership of sorts with Lime.

Posted in Reno