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Lime e-scooters: a first-time rider’s experience

Photo credit: Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson is the National Technology Editor for News Corp, and she gets her hands on all the latest tech. Recently, Jennifer had her first ride on a Lime shared electric scooter. iMOVE checked in with her to share her Lime experience.

Rolling controversy

Brisbane has been the location for the first Australian trial of Lime’s share electric scooters. The trial began in mid-November 2018, and was scheduled initially to finish at the end of December 2018. It has recently been extended to continue through to the middle of 2019.

As in other locations in the world, the introduction of e-scooters has not been without controversy. In Brisbane there was an initial speed limit of 10 km/h, before being increased to 25 km/h.

There was even more trouble with the rollout on the Gold Coast, where a ‘we-said / you-said’ battle of words saw them appear and disappear from streets in a matter of days.

Last but not least, there has been the trouble worldwide of some Lime scooters experiencing a back wheel lock when travelling at speed. This has occurred in Brisbane, and as recently as late February 2019 Brisbane City Council has put Lime on notice in regard to this issue:

‘“Council told Lime on Wednesday it had two weeks to demonstrate the problem was indeed fixed or its permit would not be extended,” said Adrian Schrinner, Lord Mayor of Brisbane.

In response Lime has since rolled out a firmware update to all affected scooters, that it told the Brisbane Times has ‘seen a material reduction in the number of incidents reported of this nature in Brisbane since the update rollout.’

The Brisbane numbers

From mid-November 2018 to March 2019 over 500,000 Lime e-scooter rides have been taken in Brisbane. Despite advice to ride safely and sensibly, there have been some mishaps. In the first two months of the trial around 120 people were taken to hospital due to scooter-related injuries.

And what happens if you do the wrong thing, and are caught? From December 2018 to March 2019 around 300 scooter riders have been issued fines for non-compliance with road rules for rideable mobility devices. Fines in Brisbane are $130 for riding a scooter incorrectly (riding without a helmet, riding on the road, etc), and $174 for exceeding the 25 km/h speed limit.

Jennifer’s Lime experience

One of those 500,000 rides in Brisbane was taken recently by Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson.

Jennifer regularly travels the world to attend tech-related launches and events, and was familiar with this mode of active transport.

‘I’d spotted Lime scooters in San Francisco earlier and had been keen to ride one for ages. I’m a big fan of scooters and all forms of battery-powered, two-wheeled transport, though I have been burned (not literally) by hoverboards in the past,’ said Jennifer.

The ride

So on a recent weekend, Jennifer jumped aboard a Lime scooter for the first time. Her ride was down the Riverwalk, from Howard Smith Wharves to New Farm and back again.

Was it a trouble-free experience? Mostly.

‘It wasn’t incredibly easy to find one. The app certainly helps locate them but some I found were out of battery and out of service. Once I found a Lime scooter with battery power, it was quite easy to unlock it, although it did give me an error message that I ignored.’

There was also some trouble with the required, and common-sense component that is the helmet.

‘There was a helmet with the scooter I chose, though it was for a Brisbane City Council bicycle. I used it anyway.’

These quibbles aside, Jennifer’s experience was a positive one.

‘Mercifully, I was right beside the Riverwalk, and that made my first Lime scooter ride very easy and quite safe. It didn’t take long to become comfortable riding the scooter, as the brakes worked well and the accelerator was easy to use.’

‘I got up to speeds of about 15 km/h, which was fast enough for me.’

Easy, safe, and fast enough, but scooter haters gotta hate.

‘With the exception of one vocal critic, I had a good response from passers-by. While calling back to my husband, one man grumbled that I would “be better off walking”. But I disagree. He looked miserable walking.’

While the commencement of the ride had a few small issues, concluding the ride was easy, and trouble-free.

‘It was very easy to end the ride and park the scooter. I picked a spot out of the way and photographed it in the app. The lights turned off when I’d logged out.’

The verdict

Convenience of this mode of transport could possibly be considered the prime motivator, but not far behind that is cost. How did Jennifer rate the Lime e-scooter experience in terms of value?

‘It cost a little under $5 for the ride back and forth. When telling friends some thought it was more expensive than they expected, particularly as I was on the scooter for less than 15 minutes. But it was worth it to be as a fun jaunt!’

As for the $5 question, would she ride one again, or envision making it a regular mobility mode?

‘I would ride a Lime scooter again. I’m concerned whether all the scooters have had the most recent safety software update, which is making me more reticent to tackle high-traffic areas of difficult terrain, but I’m open to taking another scoot.’

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