One e-scooter outfit is in ‘productive conversations’ about sticking around Tacoma

Lime scooters buzzing through Tacoma streets

UW Tacoma students say electric-propelled Lime scooters are both fun and practical.
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UW Tacoma students say electric-propelled Lime scooters are both fun and practical.

One of the e-scooter businesses operating on a temporary basis in Tacoma says it is talking to the city about sticking around.

Bird, in a statement to The News Tribune on Thursday, said: “We are having productive conversations with city officials and staff as we hope to continue to serve the Tacoma community with our safe, affordable alternative to car travel.”

Bird’s permit to do business in Tacoma expires Feb. 11. Lime, which also rents scooters and bikes in the city, has a permit that is set to expire Jan. 20.

Both companies started operating earlier this fall in Tacoma and received extensions from their initial permits.

Bird would not share ride data details of its Tacoma service.

In November, a Lime media representative told The News Tribune that its Tacoma fleet of 250 scooters and 100 e-bikes had provided approximately 50,000 rides, with “20 to 25 percent of rides starting or ending at transit centers such as Sounder Stations or the 56th Street Transit Center.”

Lime did not return requests for comment this week.

Though Lime has come under scrutiny in other cities for safety issues involving batteries and some of its scooters’ boards, no incidents of note have come to the city of Tacoma’s attention, according to its TacomaFirst 311 Customer Support Center.

Not everyone, though, has been delighted with the competing services.

TacomaFirst 311 told The News Tribune via email that it had taken about 30 comments since Lime went into service Sept. 21. (The itemized tally adds up to more than 30 because some of those comments contained multiple concerns.)

According to its records: “Nineteen have been specifically about Lime, 6 about Bird, and 6 unspecified. There have been 15 requests in the downtown core and 6 near Ruston Way. Seven requests have mentioned concerns about accessibility of sidewalks for pedestrians, wheelchairs, and strollers; 17 have mentioned safety concerns; 11 have complained about the parking of the scooters and the bikes. There were only 4 requests that didn’t touch on one of those categories.”

The city is still collecting feedback via the Tacoma 311 system and via email at bikeshare@cityoftacoma.org.

The programs will be the topic of a City Council study session Jan. 15. Time and location will be posted on the city’s meeting calendar online: https://bit.ly/2LtHwFv

Debbie Cockrell has been with The News Tribune since 2009. She reports on business and development, local and regional issues.