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Hundreds of Lime scooters roll back into Spokane with new stipulations attached

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(The Center Square) – Up to 1,500 Lime scooters and electric bikes could return to Spokane as soon as next week under a new and improved contract that the city council approved on Monday.

Negotiations with the WheelShare provider have been ongoing for months after the prior contract expired in November. Many residents have testified before the council regarding the service since then, with some expressing excitement while others say they dread its return.

Previously, reports indicated that a magnet fishing club had removed more than 250 scooters from the Spokane River since 2019, according to The Spokesman-Review.

In the past, Chicago faced a similar issue with residents throwing scooters into its river, opting to fix the problem by restricting access to areas near the water. However, Spokane’s Riverfront Park is among the most popular areas for Lime, making its situation a little trickier.

The service pedaled in $190,000 for the city in 2022 and $186,000 in 2023, racking up over 1.6 million rides since its introduction five years ago. Under the new contract, Lime will pay Spokane $17,000 annually, with an additional daily charge of 75 cents per unit.

During Monday’s meeting, Councilmember Kitty Klitzke recognized residents’ concerns, noting that the new contract has recourse to monetarily fine Lime and vacate the agreement if needed.

“If this doesn’t work out a whole lot better, I don’t think $200,000 a year is enough revenue to make our streets unsafe for people with strollers, disabilities and any kind of difficulty,” Klitzke said. “I don’t even want to have to move a Lime scooter to get down the sidewalk.”

Previous stipulations, such as speed limits and access restrictions in certain areas, will continue; however, the new contract goes further and emphasizes proper parking by imposing fines for improper parking.

Anytime a user is found to have parked incorrectly, as determined by the service’s end-of-trip photos, that user could receive a fine. Lime must then repark or remove the unit within a specific timeframe, or it could also receive fines.

Additionally, the agreement dedicates at least 10% of Lime’s fleet to underserved areas throughout the city, phases in sidewalk-riding detection technology and provides a 24-hour river retrieval process at the provider’s expense.

Under the new contract, Spokane’s fleet must include at least 500 units from March to November, including at least 50 bikes. The fleet also must not exceed 1,500 units unless the city takes action to increase that cap by 300 scooters/bikes.

Lime will remain Spokane’s WheelShare provider through at least 2026 unless the city vacates the agreement beforehand. Any revenue collected from the service will go toward pedestrian-related projects around the city.

City officials will have opportunity to renew the agreement upon the end of the contract.

“I have ridden a Lime scooter, and I have fallen off a Lime scooter,” said Council President Betsy Wilkerson. “The challenge to us as a city will be compliance.”