Lime’s white-and-green scooters have become a common sight in cities in the United States and increasingly in Europe, and the company is now setting its eyes on Canada — including an expansion into Vancouver.
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The San Francisco-based company is one of the world’s largest short-term electric and bicycle rental services, with dockless equipment — coupled with USD$765 million in privately-raised funding — providing Lime with the ease and flexibility to rapidly expand into different markets.
Although Lime was only founded in 2017, as of April 2019 it has already clocked over 50 million rides from its presence in over 100 cities across five continents.
Christopher Schafer, senior director of strategic development for Lime in Canada, told Daily Hive the company has had discussions with the provincial government, Vancouver mayor’s office, and Vancouver city council.
And now, the company is actively looking for on-the-ground staff to help advocate and plan for Lime’s expansion in Vancouver and other Western Canada markets.
“With cities like Vancouver recently having declared a climate change emergency and the transportation sector being one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, Lime sees electric scooter share operations playing a role in encouraging more BC residents to shift to environmentally friendly forms of shared electric micro-mobility that help reduce traffic congestion, particularly for first km and last km trips to and from public transit,” said Schafer.
At the moment, provincial regulations do not permit motorized scooters from being used on public roads, but the BC Ministry of Transportation previously indicated it is evaluating legislation to possibly permit new types of active transportation. A province-wide public consultation earlier this year on active transportation included scootering as a consideration.
Ontario is undergoing a more advanced consultation on electric bikes and electric scooters, and Quebec is drafting the policies needed for the operation of an electric scooter pilot program in Montreal.
In new market jurisdictions that are further down the pipeline with the process of considering new dockless scooters, there has been increased regulatory scrutiny to their introduction after pioneering cities had to deal with heaps of scooters scattered haphazardly on sidewalks, curb side parking spaces, parking lots, and bike lanes. Mandatory helmet laws are another area of concern in some jurisdictions, and this would be the case as well in BC.
Currently, Lime has just one electric scooter market in Canada, after it launched an electric scooter share pilot in Waterloo through a municipal agreement. This pilot was recently expanded onto the campus of the University of Waterloo.
It also operates a pedal assist electric bike share program in Calgary, through a municipal permit.
According to the company, municipal governments in Victoria, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, and Halifax are already in the process of developing rules for electric scooter share, ahead of their respective provincial approvals. Kelowna also recently sent a letter to the provincial government requesting permission for electric scooters on public roads.
More immediately, it has plans to expand to Calgary and Edmonton in 2019, but the expansion depends on attaining exemptions from the Alberta Traffic Safety Act.
The average fare for a Lime electric scooter ride in the United States is USD$2.25 (~CAD$3.00), and the cost to unlock and ride the scooters in Canada is CAD$1 plus 30 cents for every minute used.
Each scooter is outfitted with a digital speedometer and safety lights.
Using a smartphone app, users can GPS locate the scooters and unlock the device by scanning a QR code or manually entering a six-digit vehicle code. As Lime is dockless, it necessitates staff to remotely monitor the battery levels and pick up scooters in need of a recharge before redeploying to the community.
The app-controlled system is similar to the growing number of dockless bike share systems found in BC, including at UBC, Richmond, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Victoria, and Kelowna.