Expect to see fewer Lime scooters in Austin at least for the next month.
The transportation department has ordered the company to remove 1,000 scooters for the next 30 days after Lime was accused of violating city code by deploying too many of them downtown.
The City of Austin says that company has exceeded the city limit on scooters in the downtown zone on several occasions.
Lime responded to the decision with a statement that reads in part, "…Austin is one of a handful of cities with caps and unique in its caps based on geographic areas. Due to extremely high demand from users, we had an unintentional over deployment of scooters downtown. We have worked around the clock to fix it, and look forward to continuing to work with the City of Austin."
After 30 days, the city will reevaluate Lime’s standing and, if it’s considered good, Lime will be able to request the suspension be lifted.
While there may be fewer Lime scooters deployed overall, in the coming weeks there may be more of them on Austin trails.
“The parks and recreation department is looking at the impacts of all electric devices on park trails and running a pilot to see if we can determine those impacts,” said LeAnn Ishcomer, park ranger program manager for Austin Parks and Recreation Department.
“I don't find them to be that threatening to share the sidewalk or the trail with, I just want common courtesy like, ‘Hey, I'm here on your left,’ just like a bicycle,” said Kara Imle who often visits the Shoal Creek trail.
Currently, city code treats electric scooters and bicycles as motor vehicles, meaning they are banned from hike and bike trails, but starting in mid-December, Austin Parks and Recreation will allow those transportation options on certain trails.
“We have Johnson Creek trail, Walnut Creek trail Northern and Southern, Shoal Creek trail and they'll also allow electric bikes only on the Ann and Roy Butler hike and bike trail,” Ishcomer said.
The pilot will last nine months. Ishcomer said they are working on signage and a website to help educate people about trail courtesy and, although the electric scooters and bikes can go up to 20 mph, the speed limit on all Austin trails will remain at 10 mph.
“So it's important that we self-regulate when it comes to speed, and being respectful, and knowing the rules and how to use these spaces, so they're available to everyone and they'll be here for a really long time,” said Ishcomer.