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

Lime soon to return to Spokane streets after contract renewed

Jacob Proost and Ben Stone ride Lime scooters in spring 2019 in Riverfront Park.  (Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Lime scooters will return to Spokane streets in the coming days following a noted absence this spring, after the Spokane City Council voted Monday to renew a stricter contract with the micro mobility giant Neutron Holdings.

The contract, which will be in effect until December 2026 unless terminated early due to contract violations, was approved 5-2 Monday, with Councilman Michael Cathcart and Councilwoman Lili Navarrete voting against.

City officials hope the new contract will mitigate some of the harms associated with them, including users leaving them and clogging city streets and waterways or driving them on downtown sidewalks.

The electric scooters, which typically show up every March and continue scooting until November, have been absent from Spokane’s streets in recent months. The Spokane City Council, hoping to modify the terms of its contract with any scooter vendor operating in the city, opted last year not to grant Lime a two-year extension while new proposals were explored.

Only adults 18 or older can legally ride the scooters.

The new contract will include new concessions from Lime to prevent some of the chronic problems associated with their devices. These include requirements that its electric scooters have technology to detect when they’re being illegally driven on the sidewalk, that some of the devices be located in impoverished – and thus less profitable – areas of the city, and, for the first time, that make it Lime’s responsibility to remove scooters dumped in the Spokane River.

Lime will have 24 hours to remove any scooter thrown into any body of water in the city, so long as it is “practically possible and safe to do so.” That clock begins ticking immediately after a submerged scooter is reported by the public or, more likely, the company’s own software.

If the company fails to do so within the allotted time, the city can retrieve the scooters at Lime’s expense and plans to contract with Spokane-based Able Clean-Up Technologies to do so. Lime will not be allowed to unilaterally retrieve scooters around the river’s hydroelectric dams, a task which requires a specialized contractor.

Hundreds of the scooters, powered by batteries with toxic heavy metals that risk leaching despite waterproofing, have been pulled out of the river and intersecting waterways since Lime first hit Spokane streets in 2018.