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Lime Phases Out Bicycles As Scooters Win Charlotte Streets

A man rides a Lime rental bicycle in uptown Charlotte in late March. The company has phased out the rental bikes.
David Boraks
A man rides a Lime rental bicycle in uptown Charlotte in late March. The company has phased out the rental bikes.

It looks like electric scooters have beaten out dockless bicycles in the race for users on Charlotte's streets. Lime said Thursday it has phased out its green rental bicycles in Charlotte over the past several weeks to focus on scooters.  

Lime came to Charlotte in November 2017 and had competed with Ofo, Spin and Mobike. As of this week, the San Francisco company was the only bicycle vendor still listed on the City of Charlotte's Shared Mobility Pilot Program website.

Ofo pulled out last summer, and a mountain of its yellow bikes were later spotted in a Charlotte scrapyard.

Lime said in a statement Thursday users have shown a preference for its electric scooters:

“Riders are voting with their feet – they’ve demonstrated a penchant for Lime’s electric-vehicles and shown scooters are no longer a novelty, but rather one more flexible link to the transit chain. We strongly believe the best way for us to maximize the positive impacts of Lime in local communities is to demonstrate our agility and willingness to adjust based on patterns of preference, utilization and needs.”

[Related Content: Council OKs Rules For E-Scooters, But Revisions Likely]

According to Charlotte Department of Transportation statistics, riders took about 800 trips on dockless bikes in December, compared with with 2,800 trips a day on electric scooters. Those are the latest statistics available. Total trips have topped 100,000 some months.

Lime says it hasn't gotten out of the bicycle market entirely, though it has pulled bikes out of other cities. It's still operating bikes in some places and still introducing them to new markets.

Rental bicycles and scooters have run into some difficulties around the country from local governments trying to regulate the new transportation options. Both Lime and Bird announced last month they'll pull bikes and scooters out of Raleigh. The companies cited "burdensome" regulations and high fees. Rules there limit companies to 500 scooters each and charge an annual feet of $300 per scooter.

The state House of Representatives also is considering legislation to regulate scooters.

Charlotte has taken a more hands-off approach, without fees. New rules for scooters adopted by the city council in January call for studying per-scooter fees that change based on how well the companies and users follow the rules. The city began a pilot program last that would adjust prices based on parking, speed and safety.

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.