Lime, an electric scooter sharing company, launches in Nashville
Lime scooters plans to roll out new technology aimed at increasing accessibility in Nashville in the near future, pending the Metro Traffic Licensing Commission’s approval of Lime’s Nashville permit.
Scooters could soon be outfitted with sidewalk riding prevention technology and labeled with braille for easy identification for visually impaired individuals. On-call scooters with seats could also be delivered to those with limited ability to stand on the company’s other scooters.
The changes would follow a company milestone in Nashville: Lime scooters crossed the million ride mark this summer, replacing an estimated 300,000 car trips in Nashville, according to Lime Senior Operations Manager Lilli Krauss.
They are also meant to address concerns that have simmered in the city over the past year about the impact of electric scooters on the walkability and safety of Nashville’s sidewalks.
“We have seen particularly in Nashville, and rightfully so, that there have been some concerns over just accessibility in general, sidewalk riding and availability of scooters for people who might need to get around who can’t do so with our scooters right now,” Krauss said.
“We want to make sure as a company that we are an accessible and reliable mode of transportation for all folks, folks with all different levels of abilities,” she added.
Lime began working with Empower Tennessee, a disability advocacy organization based in Nashville, last year to address those concerns and train Lime staff members on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Lime continues to use information from the organization to train new hires.
“We look forward to continuing trainings as we hire new individuals in the city and also just working with (Empower Tennessee) to identify ways to make life easier for folks to get around with scooters on the sidewalks and streets,” Krauss said. “It helps to have that perspective of people who are in the community to help us solve the problems that we’re facing in Nashville. Nashville has historically narrow sidewalks, so learning how we can deploy scooters and how we can maintain scooters on the streets to make sure that they are accessible for everyone.”
Lime: Stay on the street
The sidewalk riding prevention technology is based on vibrations. If the scooter senses a rider is on the sidewalk, the company sends a reminder to the rider to use the street for scooter travel. Riders who fail to heed those gentle nudges in the right direction could be suspended or even expelled from using the scooters if they become repeat offenders.
Lime launched the technology in San Jose in January, and has plans to expand the program to Chicago and Rochester, Minnesota.
The timeline for implementation depends on the city’s decision. The technology takes a few months to completely execute, according to Russell Murphy, communications director for Lime North America and U.K.
“It’s part of our proposal as well, and something that if the city was interested in it, we would be interested in doing it,” he said.
Lime also undertook a “thorough overhaul” of the company’s “hot spots” in Nashville where scooters are deployed, making sure streets had appropriate clearance for scooter use, Krauss said. A checklist for patrol teams highlights the need to keep scooters off of sidewalks, and in the downtown business districts, confined to Lime’s corrals.
Take a seat
Lime’s proposal to the city also includes the rollout of a small fleet of scooters with built-in seats for those who need transportation but may not be able to safely stand on a scooter.
“This is a new technology, and we’re going to start out with a small fleet, but increase based on demand, and we hope that demand will be great,” Krauss said.
Customers can use a dedicated email address or phone number to request a seated scooter, which would be delivered to them by a member of the Lime team. When an individual is done using the scooter, a Lime team member will pick it up.
The seated scooters will be regularly maintained, charged and checked for safety between rides, just like other Lime scooters. Seated scooters launched in Oakland, California in January and Chicago in August.
“If we win this (permit), Nashville would be the third city to have this in the U.S.,” Murphy said.
Reach Cassandra Stephenson at [email protected] or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.
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