Technology

Electric scooters are about to make traffic in Wynwood a whole lot more interesting

LimeBike scooters are arriving in Wynwood. Their effect on the neighborhood remains to be seen.
LimeBike scooters are arriving in Wynwood. Their effect on the neighborhood remains to be seen.

What has two wheels, a battery — and has quickly become one of the most controversial modes of transport in America?

Electric scooters. And as of this week, they're in Wynwood.

LimeBike, the bicycle ride-sharing service that's moved into Miami offering another alternative to popular Citibike, began deploying an undisclosed number of scooters in the trendy Miami neighborhood as of Tuesday. LimeBike says it has been working with 30 Wynwood businesses in advance of the launch.

"We see this scooter rollout as an excellent opportunity to improve Wynwood by enhancing mobility to local businesses and reducing car traffic, making the shopping district a safer, more environmentally friendly place,” said Gauthier Derrien, LimeBike Regional General Manager via a statement.

Scooters have exploded in other cities seemingly overnight — and have caused controversy just as quickly. On Monday, San Francisco's city attorney issued a cease-and-desist notice to scooter operators over complaints that the dockless vehicles have been clogging up sidewalks, ramps and transit stops.

Wynwood's Business Improvement District, the City of Miami municipal board that oversees the fast-growing neighborhood, says it has worked with LimeBike to ensure similar problems don't arise here. LimeBike has pledged to collect any scooters obstructing sidewalks and public rights of way during operating hours. New rides after sundown will not be permitted.

"We look forward to working with LimeBike as it launches its pilot program in our community," said BID vice chair Albert Garcia.

In a review of electric scooters this week, car blog Jalopnik tried out a set — there are now multiple companies offering them — and raised questions about their reliability and social utility. The article noted that it was difficult to find enough two-wheelers for a large group, and that one of LimeBike's scooters went no faster than if you were walking.

"Two of our Birds [a competitor to LimeBike] worked perfectly from start to finish, but finding a third proved impossible," they wrote. "It’s great transportation for one person if you get a good one, but trying to find more than one or two is the real difficulty."

Dubbed Lime-S, LimeBike’s scooters cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute of riding. Once you download the LimeBike app, you'll be able to locate the nearest scooter, set up your payment system, and start zipping. If you dare.

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