The race for smarter transportation options has been heating up around the world and one California based company has been making Waterloo, Ont., headlines over the past few months.
Lime is a technology driven transportation system that uses an app to unlock electric scooters around a pilot area. It charges customers by the minute for their use. The product is also dockless, which means that users can leave the scooter at their destination and do not need to find a charging dock. Rather than using a docking system, the company employs workers called “juicers” to pick up the scooters and charge them overnight before returning them to the street.
Waterloo has been running a pilot of the service since Oct. 2 and will continue through Nov. 30 before shutting down for the winter. The pilot will resume in the springtime, from Apr. 1, to Sept. 30, 2019.
The company recently announced that it would be recalling more than 2,000 of its scooters after reports of one of the batteries exploding in a warehouse. The company released a statement saying that they used software to determine which scooters contained the defective batteries and have recalled all the affected models. The company also said that the problem was contained to older models and that none of the new versions, such as the ones used in Waterloo, are affected.
Recent local reports have also claimed that scooter renters in Waterloo are riding the units far outside of the permitted pilot areas and are putting themselves and others at risk of injury. The service’s app provides a map that shows the location of all available scooters and highlights the designated areas in which the scooters are permitted.
“Our geo-mapping slows down the vehicle when outside of the pilot area. But you know people — it still doesn’t stop them. We need to focus on user education to prevent users from going outside of the designated area,” said Ryan Mousey, the project manager who is overlooking the pilot project for the city of Waterloo. “Right now we are waiting on all the data to see how the public feels about the project. Waterloo is a living lab and data will play an important role in how the city moves forward. We are looking forward to seeing how the second half of the pilot goes in the spring. The city needs more options for micro-mobility.”
Police have asked that riders be conscious of the signs indicating the permitted areas and to follow the rules when using the personal transportation vehicle.
The scooter route travels along the Laurel Trail between Waterloo Park Promenade to the south, and continues north along the university campus trail to the David Johnston Research and Technology Park district.
Riders are reminded that there are requirements for the use of an electric scooter, such as being over the age of 18, wearing a safety helmet and having a valid driver’s licence. Scooters must also be walked across intersections and cannot be used outside of the permitted areas.