Weeks after Lime became one of the first companies to win the bid to operate e-scooters in New York City, the micromobility giant is bringing e-mopeds to the city's streets. This will be the first company to host multiple modes of micromobility sharing in NYC.
On Friday, Lime will release 100 electric mopeds onto the streets of Brooklyn, with planned expansions in Queens and lower Manhattan in the coming weeks. NYC is often choked and heated by smog from car pollution, but if it wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, it'll have to get comfortable with seeing more electric micromobility crop up.
Lime will be directly competing with the only other existing dockless e-moped operator in the city, Revel, which just announced the launch of an all-EV rideshare service. Lime's initial geographic zones of operation will more or less match Revel's map, which includes much of north Brooklyn, from Williamsburg to Greenpoint and Brooklyn Heights, but which will also extend southeast to the Flatlands, according to a Lime spokesperson.
Earlier this month, Lime also launched e-mopeds in Washington, D.C. and Paris. With each launch, Lime has stressed its commitment to rider and road user safety with features like AI-enabled helmet detection and license verification and a liveness test, which asks the rider to make various facial expressions into the camera when signing up in order to prove they're a real person, rather than using a static photo of someone else. A spokesperson said Lime also can use the liveness test to match the rider to their driver license to ensure it's the same person.
Lime also requires a mandatory rider education curriculum designed in consultation with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and its service is covered by motor vehicle liability insurance, which provides financial protection if a rider were to harm someone else or their property while driving, but not for the rider or rider's property.
Competitor Revel learned the hard way to include such safety features. Last summer, the company took its mopeds off the roads for a few weeks following several deaths and reports that riders weren't wearing helmets, in order to come up with a safety plan that would assuage the city's fears. Now Revel requires that users take a helmet selfie and requires all riders to take a 21-question safety training quiz and watch an instructional video before hopping on a moped for the first time. The app also has a community reporting tool that anyone can use to report bad behavior to Revel.
The steps Lime and Revel are taking to ensure rider safety are not dictated by the NYC Department of Transportation. Whereas the DOT engaged in a lengthy process to approve e-scooters to operate in the city, mopeds are not regulated by the city.
"We made an effort to work collaboratively with DOT, keep them informed of our plans, answer their questions and address any concerns," a Lime spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Lime will also offer its Lime Aid program to give discounted rates to Pell Grant recipients, job seekers and recipients of subsidy programs, as well as free rides to frontline workers, teachers, nonprofit employees, artists and hospitality workers — those who have been most affected by the pandemic.
As more New Yorkers get vaccinated and the city starts to open up (with a freshly revealed plan to fully re-open the city by July 1), Lime wants to entrench itself as a leading micromobility vessel, and they couldn't ask for a better time than a post-pandemic summer.
“The pandemic has pushed New Yorkers to look for new ways to get around that are safe, sustainable and car-free,” said Lime CEO Wayne Ting in a statement. "Now, as New York emerges from a difficult year, we are eager to support an economic comeback driven not by cars, but by sustainable options that reduce congestion and allow for open-air, socially-distanced travel."