Could e-scooters be the answer to the COVID19 induced mobility-crisis? We asked Romain Dekeyser Senior Operations Manager from Lime Benelux how e-scooters could change the mobility landscape in the cities and how Lime ensures safety of the users- not only in the light of the global pandemic.

"COVID-19 has reshaped how we work and live from the ground up, and nearly every facet of our days reflects our new, altered reality. People are rethinking the way they move. At Lime, we are adapting our business to adapt to the new needs of getting around differently than in the pre-pandemic period.

As cities emerge from COVID and embrace a more equitable and sustainable future, it is all our responsibility to be active partners in reimagining transportation’s role. Micromobility can help make our cities safer, greener, and ultimately more prosperous. The time to rethink our travel habits is now."

Have you observed any changes in the utilization patterns in Brussels following the COVID19 crisis?

In cities around the world, we are seeing more trips originate in residential neighborhoods instead of in traditional downtown areas due to limited tourist activity and the fact that people spend more time in their communities. In the light of that, Lime is shifting bikes and scooters from tourism locations and bustling downtowns to neighborhoods.

When comparing the month before lockdown with the month after, we’re seeing the following trends:

  • 34% longer rides (from 9.72 to 13.1min),
  • 18% farther rides (from 1.69 to 2.05km),
  • 7% increase of the use for recreation and running errands,
  • 9% increase of the use in the afternoon and less activity during rush hours.

In your opinion, what will the future bring for the e-scooter sharing schemes? Did the pandemic change the course in which you were going?

As travelers return to public transit post-COVID, Lime looks forward to continuing to serve as a robust first and last-mile connection for public transit trips. In the meantime Lime is leading the way, helping to redefine the future of transportation by connecting people and cities in new ways that reflect our new normal. We are committed to working with municipalities to help serve local travelers’ mobility needs, ensuring that safe, affordable, sustainable transportation is available.

What is Lime doing to ensure the e-scooters are safe to use from the sanitary point of view?

We have enhanced our cleaning methods and increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting our scooters. We are only using products recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Center for Biocide Chemistries list that have been approved by the EPA for use against the coronavirus. Additionally, all our mechanics and operators in the field are required to wear gloves and wash their hands regularly.

We follow the CDC, WHO and federal agencies recommendations to keep up to date and ensure that our actions comprehensive and expedient We have also collaborated with medical professionals on a white paper that investigate the implication of pandemic on shared modes of transportation. The evidence shows that shared bikes and scooters could be a future of post-pandemic mobility as being single-passenger mode allowing to maintain social distancing and operating outdoors and lowering the risk of airborne transmission. Furthermore, the CDC has determined that surface contact is an unlikely way to contract the virus.

And how do you ensure the safety of the users in general?

At Lime, the safety of our riders and the community is our number one priority. We think it’s vital that today’s new micro-mobility options can coexist safely with cars and other vehicles on our roads – and we want to partner with communities to help make that happen.

One example of our commitment to increase the safety of the users is #RespectTheRide movement (now First Ride Festival) that we have launched in several European cities, including Brussels. A key part of the campaign is the #RespectTheRide pledge, encouraging riders to ride responsibly, wear a helmet, obey all traffic rules and ride only in designed areas, park properly and always be aware of pedestrians, cars and fellow riders.

Additionally, we deploy a dedicated Trust & Safety Team, responsible for both preventing incidents and crashes from occurring and addressing them promptly and sensitively in case they occur. We have also developed a foot patrol in major cities to provide on the spot advice and guidance on how to ride safely.

Most notably, our scooters are designed with safety in mind - including bigger wheels, better suspension for bumps and an additional brake. We limit the speed, have numerous safety tutorials that riders must watch before unlocking their first scooter and urge riders to always use helmets. In case of improper use, scooters are equipped with sensors that allows to send warning messages directly to the screen of the device. Our app also sends regular reminders and tips to increase the awareness of the riders.

Lime and Vias are working together to prioritize the safety of riders and communities. Vias has been a key partner for #RespectTheRide event in Brussels. Within our partnership, Lime has distributed hundreds of free helmets and organized First Ride Academy- a theoretical and practical training for the riders. Furthermore, Vias and Lime partnered with AloAlto in Safer Cities project that aimed at identifying dangerous spots in Brussels to help municipalities focus their attention at improving infrastructure where it is the most needed.

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