Lime Scooters could soon make a limited return to Spokane streets.
Pending approval from public health officials, Spokane wants to add itself to the list of 10 cities currently served by the rideshare company’s temporary “Lime Aid” program.
Under the program, Lime offers free scooter rides, up to 30 minutes, for health care professionals and law enforcement officials who sign up beforehand. Non-health care workers can still use scooters, but have to pay.
In return, the city will not charge Lime the per-ride fees it would during a typical season.
Lime was prepared to redeploy its scooters and a reduced number of bicycles for its second full season in Spokane prior to the public health emergency spurred by COVID-19.
Lime suspended its operations globally in March, but launched the Lime Aid program in April.
Spokane would be the first to join the Lime Aid program in Washington, and the company has told city officials it could be ready to launch within one to two weeks if given the green light.
The fleet of scooters deployed in Spokane would be limited to about 100. That would allow full-time Lime employees to maintain the fleet, instead of relying on a network of independent contractors to do things like collect and recharge scooters.
Scooters would be cleaned once per day, according to Colin Quinn-Hurst, city’s pedestrian and bicycle planner.
During a committee meeting where the program was discussed on Monday, Spokane City Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said she would like the Spokane Regional Health District to specifically review whether that cleaning regimen was adequate.
“That’s a lot of people touching the same thing,” Kinnear said.
The company has found that its scooters are typically used about two to three times per day, Quinn-Hurst said.
The city initially reached out to the health district about the Lime Aid program in April, but it suggested the city wait. Last week, the health district was “cautiously optimistic” and requested additional details about the program.
“We’re awaiting feedback on those additional details,” Quinn-Hurst told the Urban Experience Committee.
Lime has not been spared from the economic fallout brought by the coronavirus. On April 30, it announced that it had laid off 80 employees, or about 13% of its global workforce.
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