Two shared-mobility companies will launch electric scooters in the next two weeks.
Spin, which already offers bikes in Lexington, and Lime have received licenses to operate in Lexington, city officials said this week.
Both business have been cleared to start operating on Oct. 21, said Scott Thompson, the bike and pedestrian coordinator for the Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Thompson has spear-headed the city’s licensing and regulations of shared-mobility vehicles such as pedal bikes and electric scooters.
The Lexington Fayette Urban County Council voted in June to approve regulations governing shared mobility vehicles. The ordinance requires electric scooters to be licensed, levies fines against companies that don’t comply and outlines where dockless electric scooters and bikes can be ridden.
The ordinance was in the works for more than a year.
The city launched a pilot program in June 2018 with Spin to provide dockless bikes that can be rented and unlocked using a smart phone application. Electric scooters operate the same way. That pilot program, which restricted all shared-mobility vehicles to Spin, expired July 1.
Spin will continue to offer the dockless bikes in addition to electric scooters, Thompson said.
Lime has offered electric scooters in Louisville since November 2018.
“Our data from Louisville shows that more than a quarter of a million rides,” said Adam Bolin, Kentucky operations manager for Lime. “That replaces about 66,000 car trips.”
Bolin said the electronic scooters are also offering a low-cost transportation alternative for poorer residents.
“This has opened the city for low-income people who are looking for other transportation options,” Bolin said.
Still, other cities have struggled to regulate electric scooters. Some companies launched scooters on public streets without notice, causing head aches and scooter pile ups on public sidewalks. Some cities have opted to ban them.
In addition to enforcement headaches, accidents on electric scooters have caused deaths in some cities including one in Nashville in May.
Lexington spent a lot of time crafting its ordinance so it could avoid problems other cities faced, Thompson said.
“The city has proceeded slowly and carefully in an attempt to craft a program that emphasizes safety,” he said.
Riders should remember that it’s illegal to ride the vehicles on a sidewalk. Citizens are also encouraged to wear helmets.
Shared-used companies have to pay a $5,000 annual permit and pay a 25 cent per-trip fee. The companies have to provide areas where scooters and bikes must be parked. Each company must also have a plan to redistribute bikes and scooters and must have a local manager. Companies can be fined $500 if a scooter or bike is left in the right of way for two hours and is not moved.
Lime officials said the exact location of its scooter parking areas is still being determined.
“All of that information will be available on our app,” Bolin said.
Bolin said Lime has upped its education and safety outreach as part of its expansion efforts.
As part of its app, Lime has different education and safety messages including multiple prompts for riders to use helmets.
“We have invested more than $3 million in safe ride campaigns and given away more than 250,000 free helmets,” Bolin said.
Bolin said he will also host several educational and safety demonstrations when Lime launches later this month. Bolin said an exact date for Lime’s launch is still in the works.
Representatives from Spin could not immediately be reached for comment.