Lime, the electric scooter-sharing startup that will soon join forces with Uber, confirmed its interest in the Richmond area, but stayed tight-lipped about future plans.
A Silicon Valley-based firm recently confirmed it might be rolling out its new rideshare program right here in Richmond, Virginia. Literally, rolling out.
They're scooters. For adults.
The up-and-coming transportation startup LimeBike, rumored to soon make its debut in Richmond, is a rideshare company -- but not the kind you're thinking of. The California-based company offers "ridesharing" by introducing fleets of dockless, electric Segway scooters that city-dwellers can unlock with an app and ride anywhere -- then leave them anywhere, too. The scooters are, of course, ostentatiously lime green.
Soon, you'll even be able to book one on Uber.
Lime's hypothetical Richmond expansion started as a rumor inspired by a mysterious posting on Lime's website. On July 17, LimeBike posted job listings on LinkedIn, Uncubed, and Glassdoor for full-time employment opportunities at its (currently nonexistent) office in Richmond. This sparked questions, with the premise quickly gaining appeal as LimeBros got excited at the concept of electric scooter sharing coming to their city.
On July 25, the bike-and-scooter-based startup confirmed their interest in the Richmond area, but stayed tight-lipped about future plans, making no promises.
Lime spokeswoman Mary Caroline Pruitt wrote in an email to Richmond BizSense, the finance-focused news outlet among the first to break the story:
“We envision having a region-wide mobility network that includes D.C., Virginia, and Maryland and are eager to serve Richmond, Virginia, but do not yet have launch plans solidified,” Pruitt said.
Like most players in the up-and-coming battle for the scooter industry, Lime first hit the scene in California. Thanks to the viral appeal of the scooter-share industry and over $120 million in venture capital, Lime has already expanded to over 70 markets nationwide, with a focus on major cities.
The relatively young company, founded in 2017, is quickly becoming a major contender in what tech analysts are calling the Scooter Wars.
Upping the stakes last month, Uber, that Other Rideshare Company, announced a strategic partnership with Lime scooter-sharing. Uber made a $335 million investment in Lime on July 9. Google parent company Alpjhabet also publicized its investment in Lime, setting the relatively small company at an advantage against competitors Bird, Spin, Skip, and GOAT, among others.
Transportation takes a bizarre turn in 2018. (Courtesy of Lime/Facebook)
Lime brands its "fleets" not as scooters, but a new kind of on-demand rideshare. With their scooters, they hope to propose a new, eco-friendly, and convenient alternative to the way we currently think about transportation.
The company's self-avowed goal "to create tech-integrated, accessible, and affordable micro-mobility solutions" is more than marketing prattle -- it is a nod to the millennial market and its values. Lime repackages an old, simplistic technology -- and a familiar one from our childhoods -- as a creative solution in its own right as it is extracted from our mind's old closet drawer and proposed, dusted off, as an apparently audaciously serious contender for rethinking present technologies and the overcomplicated problems they cause.
It doesn't matter if scooter ridesharing is actually a viable solution to problems like inaccessible public transportation, crowded streets, and the wastefulness of cars. For millennials, when it comes to navigating economies, fulfilling dreams, and achieving mobility in all its forms -- including physical space -- the infrastructure models of modernity are not just outdated. In their thirst for efficiency, they are actually wasteful -- worse, they are wasteful of money and time -- two things millennials never have enough of. Not to mention automobiles' impact on clean air -- something we're not sure we have enough of either.
(Courtesy of LimeBike San Francisco)
It is emblematic of this generation's current existential situation that something as unremarkable as scooters, which are virtually childhood toys, resonates with us as an innovative answer to big problems. Scooters are ridiculously simple toys more suited for a pleasant diversion through a neighborhood in 1997 than they are formidable vessels for defying the currents of city traffic. But that's exactly their appeal.
To millennials, what makes something as ridiculous as "scooter collectives" innovative is not that it's (even remotely) a new idea. It's the audacity (and refreshingly realistic understanding of our society's actual state) it takes to propose it. To say, what if in the face of the massive problems of our failing, overcomplicated systems, what if we abandoned the old systems entirely? What if we tried a new thing instead? What if the solutions to these big problems are actually simple and we already have them, we've just forgotten; what if scooters, but green?
Rideshare apps may eventually replace car ownership in the long run, but it's a pretty safe bet that scooters won't. They certainly won't get you very far.
But let's be honest -- based on our generation's track record, none of us are going too far in life anyway. And we certainly don't know where we're going.
But you can bet we'll find an interesting way to get there.
And when it comes to interesting answers for the problems of twenty-something life, there's nothing more Richmond than that.
Would you use Lime scooters as a new kind of Uber? Let us know in the comments.