Electric scooter startups including Bird, Lime, and Skip continue to battle for public space (and attention) in cities across the country. In cities from Baltimore to Indianapolis to San Francisco, new pilot programs allow certain companies to operate provisionally, and encourage entrepreneurial individuals who charge the dockless scooters to make extra money.
And now, at least one e-scooter startup is setting up a permanent location. Lime will open a “lifestyle brand store” in Santa Monica, according to TechCrunch.
The company will rent scooters out of the storefront, of course. But the big idea behind the brick-and-mortar shop is placing “heavy importance on brand experience and customer engagement.” That basically means hosting live events, with an emphasis on what one investor described as rebuilding community relationships.
Many scooter companies do not have offices or any sort of footprint in the community where the dockless electric scooters suddenly show up by the hundreds. That has caused considerable tension in some regions, as city regulators have scrambled to regulate the vehicles, sometimes banning them temporarily or altogether.
Lime has received major investments from Uber and Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and handled six million rides in its first year in business, as reported earlier this summer. Lime has also been working to make its scooter and bike sharing business carbon neutral.
Lime is also the e-scooter company with the tragic distinction of being associated with two rider fatalities in September. Rules and regulations about riding scooters vary wildly across cities and states, with rules about helmets and whether to ride on sidewalk or with traffic being some of the more hotly contested aspects of the scooter safety debates.
Along with competitor, Santa Monica-based Bird, Lime currently operates in Santa Monica under an 18-month pilot program that mandates $1 per scooter per day goes to city infrastructure projects, such as bike lane installation and upkeep.