NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — A plan approved by Norfolk leaders will put Limes on Norfolk streets to mix up transportation options.
City Council unanimously approved a one year pilot program Tuesday evening which allows for the use of shareable electric scooters in public areas.
As part of the program, the city selected Neutron Holdings, Inc., also known as Lime, to be the sole company to provide up to 500 e-scooters for riders 18 and older to use.
Starting on June 24, anyone can find and “unlock” a scooter through a mobile app and start riding for $1, according to a news release from the city. It costs 15 cents a minute to ride after it’s unlocked.
Scooters are considered dockless and will be able to be found parked along sidewalks and in plazas.
“We are excited to bring Lime to Norfolk. The City is committed to improving transportation access and providing first-and last-mile solutions to support public transit,” said Amy Inman, Norfolk’s director of transit. “This pilot program advances our commitment to ensure residents and visitors have convenient, reliable commuting options to safely reach their destination.”
Three other companies also applied for the pilot, including Bird, who racked up quite the bill with the city after more than 500 of their scooters were impounded. City leaders said Bird dropped off the scooters without a permit or conversation with the city last August.
An agreement was eventually reached to return the scooters to the company for $20,000.
Under Lime’s agreement, they will pay a one time $15,000 permit fee to operate in city limits and 5 cents per scooter trip.
In addition, Lime is required to provide data once a month on usage, trip duration, accidents and complaints.
“They’ve been very good, they’ve been very responsive,” Inman said.
The city is requiring Lime to have a employee presence in Norfolk . Not only for maintenance, but for community engagement.
“We want to make sure folks understand how to use it, where there they can use it, where they can locate the scooters, where they can park the scooters,” Inman said. “Making sure the community has the resources they need to know how to utilize the scooters.”
E-scooter riders will have the same rights of the road as bikes and cars, and are expected to follow traffic laws according to city code. Helmets are also encouraged for riders.
“We want this to be an option for all residents,” Inman said.
A special low-income rate will be set for users that qualify. It will cut the unlock fee to 50 cents and charge 7 cents a mile, according to Inman.
A city spokesperson wanted to emphasize that only Lime e-scooters are now allowed. Non-Lime scooters found will be impounded.
City Council did agree to look at allowing more vendors to apply for permits if this program is successful.