Limes or lemons?
Lime scooters in Tahoe
Since electric scooters were introduced by the Lime company to South Lake Tahoe, the debate over whether they are an asset or a headache to the community has escalated.
In May, Lime deposited a fleet of 250 e-scooters at locations around the city, and the zippy two-wheelers have been popular ever since. However, due to the ease with which users can rent one—just a couple of clicks on a cellphone and a low rental price of one dollar to ride—and the lack of supervision, Lime scooter-users are breaking laws, and many Tahoe locals are fed up.
“The company needs to find a way to keep them safe,” resident Shawn Vinze said. “I have seen at least three scooters go down in the last week, including two young girls who were on one scooter and obviously not even 16 years old, crash in the middle of the road. Luckily, there were no cars coming.”
While it’s true that locals are averse to change—when the neon-green Lime Bikes were introduced the previous year, the community uproar was equally intense—their concerns are not unfounded. California law stipulates that motorized scooters cannot be operated without a driver’s license, the user must be at least 18, and a helmet is required to ride. But few people are obeying those laws.
On any given day, it’s easy to spot numerous Lime scooter-users breaking laws. Groups of children careen down sidewalks, weaving past pedestrians. People double-up on the e-scooters, riding with one or more people dangling off the back, and helmet-wearing is virtually nonexistent.
Vinze said he even saw one scooter-user who didn’t know how to brake shoot across an intersection.
“This is just me walking around town, so you can imagine what I don’t see,” Vinze said. “Lime needs to make sure that underage kids aren’t using the scooters because they don’t know how to drive, and they don’t understand the traffic laws.”
Keeping drunk drivers from riding the scooters is also a challenge. On June 12, an 18-year-old woman was arrested after crashing an e-scooter on Emerald Bay Road. She was arrested for driving under the influence and sustained “moderate injuries,” according to a Facebook post by the California Highway Patrol.
Lime scooters are also being abandoned all over town. They’re left on sidewalks, in front of businesses, and on walking trails.
“It bugs me when I see scooters left in the middle of the road or in the bushes,” said Erica Roach, another resident. “There should be a docking station with someone manning that point and verifying that riders are of age and can follow the rules.”
Still, tourists and locals alike have taken to the motorized scooters.
“The Lime scooters are so much fun,” said local Kat Spence. “I tried them, and they’re very cheap, and I had a really good time. Why wouldn’t anybody like them?”
“The kids love the scooters, and everyone gets to see a little bit more with them,” said Hollister, California, resident Mike Miller, who recently visited with his family. “But it’s difficult with all of the people and traffic around. Putting these scooters in traffic isn’t safe, and riding them on the sidewalk isn’t safe for pedestrians, so it’s kind of a toss-up of where to go.”
Miller and his family took eight scooters out for the day, calling themselves a “scooter gang.” The scooters were easy for all of the family members to acquire, although one scooter they rented had to first be retrieved from a public fountain.