City says Lime scooters are legally mopeds, users could face $1,000 fine

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The city is taking another step against the company Lime and its electric scooters.

According to the city, the scooters are legally considered mopeds, and because of that cannot be ridden or left on city sidewalks.

Anyone caught violating these rules could be fined $1,000. 

In addition, the city says the scooters need to registered with the city and each must have a license plate.

“This is a serious offense. And I think there’s a good reason for that statute and it’s because of the safety hazard it creates to the general public,” said Donna Leong with Corporation Counsel. 

Since the launch of the scooters over the weekend, Honolulu police have seized about half of Lime’s 200 scooter fleet.

“We were never informed of the specific violation or reason for their impoundment. Our scooters have been impounded in other cities but we’ve never been in a situation where they’ve been impounded without a specific citation of violation,” said Director of Strategic Developments Sam Dreiman.

The city sent Lime a letter last week saying, “it does not allow concessions of this sort on city property without proper authorization.”

However, Lime told KHON2 the company did its due diligence and researched before coming to Honolulu.

“We didn’t see anything prohibiting our operations. We didn’t find a permit or approval process that was applicable to our business,” Dreiman said.

The Honolulu Police Department said a company spokesperson picked up 96 of its scooters from police possession on Thursday afternoon. 

In a statement, Lime said:

We believe in the importance of working with City officials, as we have strived to do in the city since day one. Given the administration’s recent comments, we are conducting our own legal review to determine next steps out of caution for our users and employees.

In just the past several days, over 4,000 rides have been taken on our scooters, a number that far surpassed our most optimistic projections even with a limited fleet. We believe this clearly demonstrates a demand in Honolulu for the service we provide, and we look forward to working both with the City Council and the Mayor’s office on finding the best path forward.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the company reached out to his administration only one month ago. He was caught off guard when the company launched last week. 

“I have to say, reaching out within a month, before you launch? I’ve never seen that,” said Caldwell. 

The Mayor is asking Lime to cease operations in Honolulu until they can work out a satisfactory ride-sharing program. 

“I ask to show some trust and responsibility here. I’m willing to show good faith. But Lime needs to, too. They need to rebuild trust, which is not there, whatsoever. We’re not going to work with them until they step back, stop what they’re doing, and say we’re going to get this right. With the city and county of Honolulu,” said Caldwell. 

According to the city, under HRS Section 249-1, the Lime electric scooters are “mopeds” since: 

·         A person can ride on them;

·         They have two wheels;

·         They have an electric motor;

·         Their maximum power output is 250 watts, which is less than the maximum 1,492 watts in order for the scooter to be classified as a moped and not as a motorcycle;

·         The maximum speed of the electric scooters is 14.8 miles per hour, which is less than the 30 miles per hour in order for the scooter to be classified as a moped and not as a motorcycle; and

·         The electric scooters have a direct or automatic power drive system with no clutch or gear shift operation by the moped driver after the drive system is engaged with the power unit.

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