Last Thursday, Meridian brought electric scooters to their streets from scooter-rental company Lime. But less than a week after 200 scooters were deployed, the city and other parts of Ada County were facing concerns.
At a Meridian city council meeting Tuesday, the city requested Lime to put the scooters on hold until more discussion can take place about the future of the devices.
Some residents complained about how pedestrians could be affected because of riders using the scooters on sidewalks, which is illegal in Meridian.
“The first day they were out, they were all parked on sidewalks, blocking the handicap access ramps,” says local resident Shauna Miller. “The scooters aren’t a bad idea, but they need to put more thought and consideration into how and where.”
There were also concerns about riders using the scooters without required helmets.
Just four days after the scooters were put on the street, the Ada County Highway District impounded 13 scooters blocking access.
“If one of these scooters is on a sidewalk and it’s blocking access for people, then that’s when we go out and we pick them up,” says ACHD spokesperson Natalie Shaver. “Legally, we have to make sure that the sidewalks are accessible for everybody.”
Bill Nary, Meridian city attorney, blames some of the city’s problems with the scooters on the lack of resources Lime provided them.
“What the company had originally indicated they would do is prior to putting these out there for the public, they were supposed to educate the public on safe use of them, where they could be used, where they could be located, and where they could be parked,” says Nary.
Nary also said Lime was supposed to work with business owners to figure out where the scooters could be parked without being scattered throughout the city.
“They didn’t do either one of those things, and so that’s really where the problem has come,” he says.
Lime spokesperson Megan Colford says there are education resources available online.
“We have all sorts of education that’s on the scooters themselves, it’s in our app, and we’ve been doing in conjunction with our launch in-person education,” she says. “It could be just as simple as making sure the city is aware of all of those efforts but we are certainly doing our best to educate in many ways.”
A few scooters from Meridian made their way to Boise, even though they were supposed to stay within Meridian. Boise is also planning contracts with Lime and Bird, another electric scooter company. Up to 750 of the electric scooters and bikes will be in Boise by mid-October.
But Boise passed an ordinance in August they hope will combat the problems Meridian faced. The city charge $100 for each vehicle and a $100 deposit for scooters that may need to be impounded.
Some locals support scooter companies like Lime making their way to the Treasure Valley.
“The Lime scooters could help to address some of the Treasure Valley’s public transportation gaps,” says resident Jason Hendrickson. “It’s great to see newer technologies that are commonplace in larger metro areas finally making their way here.”
Lime spokesperson Colford says that to avoid problems with the scooters, the company needs to work with the city.
“Certainly there is a learning curve and no matter where we launch we always see that,” Colford says. “But I hope cities will recognize this is a really an awesome thing that is being used well and that we just have to work together to get through any difficulties.”
She said Lime hopes to work with Meridian to bring back the minimum amount of scooters they can have in the city.
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