Lime’s Plan After Cornering the E-scooter Market? Profitability
Are cities, people, and Lime itself really ready for what the e-scooter behemoth wants to do to the world?
Near San Francisco’s bustling Fisherman’s Wharf in the middle of the afternoon two weeks ago, a 69-year-old woman took what was likely the last e-scooter ride of her life. It’s not clear who struck who at Embarcadero and Bay, but the point is moot. The scooter collided with a massive cement truck, the sort of cataclysmic transportation asymmetry now endangering lives and disrupting communities all over the world. The city bears some blame. It had been tragically slow to deal with the upsurge in e-scooters and e-bikes. Ironically, SF transportation bureaucrats were scheduled to meet just days later to discuss safety improvements — too little, too late for the elderly woman, who suffered life threatening injuries.
These days, eyes in the back of your head come in handy on the streets of San Francisco. Walking to a meeting recently, I dodged an e-skateboarder slaloming through the crowd, then pivoted again just in time to avoid being flattened by an oncoming scooter, followed closely by a near collision with a glowing red hoverboard and e-bike — just some of the tech-enabled vehicles competing for control of the sidewalk.
This is a fight with dramatic consequences for our cities.
Augmented pedestrians balancing on all manner of powered personal crafts rule the concrete footpaths to success in the world’s startup capital. My destination that day was the headquarters of Lime, a double unicorn that’s chasing global scale while upending the landscape of our cities one pedestrian walkway at a time.
As with any paradigm shift, there are skeptics on one side and true believers on the other. This is a fight with dramatic consequences for our cities. When and how micromobility ultimately morphs into a stable marketplace in the near future is an open question.
Is this a passing phase of urban millennial infatuation subsidized by venture capital billions, or are we witnessing a green revolution in transportation?