Lime’s new electric scooters with seats, designed for people with disabilities
If you live in the Bay Area, you may soon find a new type of scooter cruising down the street: one with seats. Electric scooter company Lime is testing newer scooters for people with disabilities in pilot programs in Oakland and San Francisco.
Lime has withdrawn from 12 markets and laid off about 100 people, accounting for 14% of its total workforce, as it aims to achieve profitability by 2020.
So why invest in a usable scooter? On the one hand, a lightweight scooter sounds like a contradiction. Even for a healthy person, a scooter (the force of its high center of gravity and the small wheels hitting bumps) is difficult to control. The rise of electric scooters has been accompanied by emergency hospitalizations due to scooter-related injuries, which are head-related and have twice the incidence of cyclists.
On the other hand, as Sean Conner, Lime's policy leader, explained to me, many people with disabilities are riding Lime anyway. After investigating 18,000 Lime customers in 80 countries around the world, his department found that 8% of Lime riders are currently suffering from a temporary or permanent disability (ranging from a broken leg to an autoimmune disease that causes standing fatigue ). Dangerous or not, people with reduced mobility use Lime's products to solve their "last mile" problem by taking a bus or train from home, and vice versa.
The new scooter is based on Lime's third-generation scooter design, and its wheels are larger than its predecessor, which can better overturn bumps. Physical modifications include seats you can't miss, and wider handlebars for better balance.
Other accessibility improvements are invisible-infiltrating product performance and even the Lime service itself. The user can turn off the scooter to save power (the typical Lime is always on), which ensures that people with reduced mobility will not be trapped when it comes to rent control. This is also necessary because the scooter is designed to be rented for only one day at a time, not just for a short time. For just $ 32 per day ($ 16 for public assistance), the scooter will drop in your home for your exclusive use. Reservations cannot be made by anyone outside the program.
Conner told me that the Lime team plans to use this early test to improve the hardware. But he acknowledged that it does not adequately meet the needs of users with disabilities, and is far from Lime's complete vision for future mobility. Although 8% of Lime users report disability, this number is already highly self-selecting and can be compared to 15% of people with disabilities worldwide. For example, electric scooters don't even care about people who need a wheelchair and blind people. If Lime is to fulfill its mission of providing last-mile solutions to the world, the company will need new products that have not been invented, are more stable and even autonomous.