West Ada

After a messy rollout last fall, e-scooters finally set to launch in Meridian

Lime and Bird introduce e-scooters to Boise with test drives

E-scooters are coming to Boise. Test drive and learn about them in public outreach.
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E-scooters are coming to Boise. Test drive and learn about them in public outreach.

When e-scooters invaded Meridian last September, residents didn’t know what to make of them. Many complained of Lime scooters blocking wheelchair ramps and littering sidewalks. The company admitted that its rollout had caused problems, and the city suspended the scooters after less than a week.

This week, the city approved an agreement with a different scooter company, Santa Monica-based Bird, which operates scooter rideshares in more than 60 cities around Europe and North America.

The agreement lets Bird at first deploy between 100 and 150 scooters throughout the city. Eventually, the company will be allowed to deploy 500.

Lime and Bird scooters started operating in Boise earlier this year after the city passed regulations to limit how many scooters each company could deploy within city limits. And they’ve been popular — in the first four days after the two companies launched there, riders logged more than 13,000 miles.

Before the Birds land in Meridian, the city is asking the company to spend two weeks on community outreach. The ordinance would also block the scooters from operating around playgrounds and regional parks by geofencing off those areas.

Under the contract, Bird must start to deploy its scooters before Aug. 1.

While the city may eventually allow Lime to operate in the city again, for now it is extending an exclusive contract to Bird, which was chosen based on safety and user-friendliness by a committee of staff members and residents.

Lime appealed the city’s decision, arguing that the committee had been unfairly biased by one member. The city denied the company’s appeal.

Meridian will require Bird to pay an annual franchise fee of $25,000, which will be pro-rated this year, plus $250 every time the city must move a scooter that is improperly parked.

Boise, by comparison, charges a $5,000 franchise fee to each of the three companies that operate there, plus a fee of $100 per scooter in the city.

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Kate reports on West Ada and Canyon County for the Idaho Statesman. She previously wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Providence Business News. She has been published in The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News. Kate graduated from Brown University with a degree in urban studies.