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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lime scooters return to city streets for first time since pandemic began

Lime employees Kelly Lotze and James Langford ride on Howard Street during the kickoff of the Lime Patrol in June 2019.  (DAN PELLE)

The popular shared mobility service Lime will return to Spokane streets Wednesday with new cleaning and safety measures in place during the pandemic, city officials say.

Lime’s electric scooters will be available for rental for the first time since November. Initially, 200 scooters will be made available in Riverfront Park, downtown and some neighborhood areas, said Kirstin Davis, communications manager for the city’s Neighborhood & Business Services division.

A planned rollout in March was initially delayed by weather, and then by the outbreak of COVID-19. The San Francisco-based company says its workers will clean and disinfect scooters at least once per day and is urging riders to thoroughly wash their hands or use a sanitizer when they arrive at their destination.

Bikes will be available to rent mid-July, according to a city news release.

“Lime scooters and bikes have proven to be an asset for the community and will provide an additional option for transportation for residents, workers and visitors,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a statement announcing the return of scooters.

The company has been operating scooters in Portland and bikes in Seattle throughout the pandemic, according to Jonathan Hopkins, Lime’s director of strategic development for the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

Lime is touting its service as an open-air option that allows riders to maintain 6 feet of social distance. Lime points to recent studies demonstrating coronavirus spread is most pronounced in indoor settings and Centers for Disease Control guidance that suggests the virus is not primarily transmitted through touching surfaces as evidence its service is safe.

Hopkins said scooter service returned to Boise in May and Bothell, Washington, earlier this month.

City officials earlier this year had discussed new potential regulations for scooter and bike riders to discourage their use on sidewalks. It’s against city code to ride a bike or motorized vehicle on the sidewalk in the downtown core, and in other areas of the city riders must yield the right of way to pedestrians. The changes would have made violations eligible for a fine and added new restrictions to where vehicles could be parked.

Those changes have not been voted on by the Spokane City Council, in part due to the pandemic, city officials said.