SAN DIEGO — Lime Scooters have closed operations in a dozen markets, including San Diego, the company said Thursday, just weeks after the San Diego City Council voted to prohibit dockless electric scooters on the city’s boardwalks.
The company cited declining ridership, a lack of clear regulations and the city’s recent ban on e-bikes and scooters as contributing factors for pulling the scooters from San Diego.
“As part of our path to profitability, Lime has made the difficult decision to exit San Diego and focus our resources on markets that allow us to meet our ambitious goals for 2020,” a Lime statement read. “We’re grateful to our team members, riders, Juicers and communities who supported us throughout this journey. We appreciate the partnership we’ve enjoyed with San Diego and remain hopeful we can reintroduce Lime back into the community when the time is right.”
Lime was the first scooter company to hit the streets of San Diego back in 2018, seemingly popping up overnight. And the company left just as quickly.
“Yeah, I am surprised. I thought they were one of the primary companies,” said Katrina Pitts, who took a Bird scooter for a ride in Cortez Hill Thursday.
“When I drove into town, there was one laying right off the freeway on the curb,” said Bruce Moncrief, a visitor from out of town. “I’m not going to miss them.”
About 4,500 Lime scooters were taken off the street by Thursday night.
Last month, the city council narrowly approved banning scooters from the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach boardwalks, Mission Bay Park Bayside Walk and the La Jolla Shores Boardwalk.
Lime said that despite San Diego being one of the first cities to welcome dockless scooters, the city’s regulatory framework was not developed until recently and has led to uncertainty regarding the rules for impounding scooters. The company said ridership declined under the new regulations.
In addition, city leaders unsuccessfully sought to revoke Lime’s operating permit last year based on an apparent violation of compliance with “geofencing speed and operating restrictions.” The company said it was denied information from the city regarding how it had allegedly violated city ordinances.
City Councilman Scott Sherman, who voted against the ban, issued a statement Thursday reproaching the ban, which he said forced Lime out of the city.
“This decision not only tarnishes San Diego’s reputation as an innovation hub for startups and new technologies, the decision will also make it much more difficult for the city to reach its ambitious Climate Action Plan goals,” Sherman said. “Those who speak warmly of innovation while at the same time knee-capping innovative startups are being hypocritical. San Diego leaders need to decide once and for all if we want to be a cutting-edge innovative city that embraces technology or a city that merely tries to ban the future.”