Lime is aiming to mobilize escooter riders to push for safer streets - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Jul. 8, 2020 5:32 pm

Lime is aiming to mobilize escooter riders to push for safer streets

Through Lime Action, the escooter company is partnering with Bikemore with an eye toward advocacy.
A Lime electric scooter.

A Lime electric scooter.

(Courtesy photo)

A new initiative from Lime is building advocacy into the escooter experience.

Lime Action is a new platform that seeks to mobilize escooter riders around issues that are close to micromobility:

  • Safer streets, supporting campaigns for infrastructure that creates more space on the road for travelers who aren’t taking a car, like bike lanes and greenways
  • Social justice, extending partnerships Lime has with orgs supporting reentry for formerly incarcerated people, addressing institutional racism, providing career training and meaningful employment and increasing opportunities for underprivileged youth
  • Cleaner air, supporting environmental and sustainability campaigns that underscore the environmental benefits of reducing car trips and traveling on renewable energy-powered scooters vs. cars

The company is launching the initiative through partnerships with advocacy organizations in more than a dozen cities. In Baltimore, it is working to amplify the work of Bikemore, the Old Goucher-based bike advocacy organization that has been supportive of escooters as it works to increase connection and access to increased mobility options in the city more broadly.

“Lime Action connects our riders with local grassroots organizations making meaningful change in their communities,” said Katie Stevens, head of global policy at Lime, in a statement. “We’re proud to help riders strengthen their hometowns by getting involved in efforts to create safer, calmer streets, reduce congestion and harmful emissions from car traffic, and fight systemic racism and injustice.”

The platform includes an action center Lime built with Arlington, Virginia-based Phone2Action, which provides info that Bikemore supplies about campaigns, events and membership. Inside the Lime app, riders will have an option to check out how to get involved, and they’ll be prompted with an option to round up the cost of a ride as a donation to Bikemore.

The popularity of scooters serves an opportunity to engage a wide audience about the need for protective infrastructure, and the platform can help to reach them. For Bikemore, Executive Director Liz Cornish said the platform can help to reach riders who may not have previously had the work of Bikemore or bike advocacy more generally on their radar.  She called it a “great tool to connect” with Lime users.

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It’s a sign that venture-backed tech companies entering the mobility space are also using tech tools for community-level outreach, and taking a role in the local policy landscape. There’s been a question in transportation circles, Cornish said: “As private companies enter the mobility space, what responsibility do they have to the cities where they are serving in order to part in the broader advocacy movement in terms of safe streets?” Cornish said Lime, as well as fellow escooter operator Spin, “have been very attuned to how they can best serve Baltimore city.”

This initiative comes about a year after Lime was among the four companies that were selected by the city to receive formal permits to operate. In the time since, scooters have continued to enjoy high ridership in Baltimore, and they continued to be a viable transportation option during the COVID-19 pandemic. After implementing safety precautions to increase cleaning of scooters and distancing and PPE for workers, Lime resumed deploying scooters in the city toward the end of April, with a particular focus on front-line workers like healthcare pros and first responders.

Going forward, it appears transit will be slower to resume, which could bring additional needs. Along with scooters, Cornish said Bikemore is also seeing people opt into biking in greater numbers as they seek to maintain physical distancing. It is leading cities like Paris and London to put new emphasis on policy decisions aimed at reducing car use, as NPR reported.

This initiative indicates that the scooter companies — and their riders — can have a role in pushing for those changes.

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