Electric scooter rental company Lime said this afternoon that it will temporarily suspend its service after city administrators on Thursday defined the vehicles as mopeds that can’t legally be parked on sidewalks where Lime was parking them.
“Yesterday, the city offered us a rationale behind impounding our scooters, citing our low-speed electric scooters (being classified) as mopeds,” the company said in a statement. “As a result, we have decided to temporarily suspend our service out of respect for the city, our riders, and local team-members, while we review the relevant code and evaluate our next steps.
“We hope to be able to work collaboratively with city leaders to establish a sensible regulatory framework around this new shared scooter model so that we can return to serving the City & County of Honolulu.”
City Corporation Counsel Donna Leong notified Lime on Thursday that penalties up to $1,000 or 30 days in jail can be imposed for each violation of a state law prohibiting people from parking a vehicle on any part of a street, including sidewalks, for the purpose of selling the vehicle or any service therein and thereby creating a hazardous condition or public nuisance.
Leong and Mayor Kirk Caldwell said those penalties could be imposed on those who park the scooters, whether it be company representatives or riders.
Leong also told Lime that the scooters are akin to mopeds under state law based on engine power, two wheels and riding so they need to be registered with the city and issued license plates.
Lime previously contended that its parked scooters don’t constitute a public nuisance, given that they are supposed to be parked on sidewalks out of the pedestrian right of way.
Riders use a mobile phone app to locate, unlock and pay for the scooters, which cost $1 to start and 15 cents a minute to operate. The company puts out scooters on sidewalks each morning after recharging them at night, but it is left to riders to re-park the vehicles, and that has caused problems in other cities with scooters left haphazardly in improper places. Other cities also have had problems with scooters being ridden on sidewalks.
Lime initially put out 200 scooters around Waikiki, Ala Moana and Kakaako Saturday. Police, in response to complaints about obstructed sidewalks or scooters on private property without permission, rounded up and impounded 96. Lime was able to retrieve those scooters late Thursday.
This morning, Lime had put out its scooters again. As of 4 p.m. just after Lime’s announcement, many scooters were still available for use, according to Lime’s app.