City says new scooter pilot program operating illegally

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You may have seen scooters around Honolulu this weekend. They were brought in by a company called Lime.

Just a few days after hitting the streets, the service is already causing confusion and controversy.

The mayor told us the company is operating illegally.  

The electric scooters were placed over the weekend around Ala Moana, Kakaako and Waikiki, and within two days of operation, the company says they’ve logged more than 1,400 rides.

However, dozens of those scooters are now in the hands of Honolulu police.

Riders unlock the scooters with their phones and the service is completely dock-free, but their future is unclear.

“We have a situation where the company came in without getting the permission from the executive branch of the City and County of Honolulu and just launched this program violating numerous laws. They’re using our bike lanes for motorized scooters which is against the law,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

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

The company was told to stop renting the scooters, but they’re still out there. We’re told officers have confiscated more than 80 scooters since the program launched.

“They’re running a business on city property which is against the law,” Caldwell said. “They get in the way of people walking on side walks. They’re lying on roads. A couple have been thrown into the Ala Wai canal.

In a letter response to the city, Lime said, “Our review of relevant city code leads us to believe that that the launch of a responsible scooter pilot program is permitted, so long as it is safe and consistent with local ordinances.”

Whether or not they got proper approval to do business in the city depends on who you ask.

In an email statement, a Lime spokeswoman said “over the past several months, lime has worked closely with city and community leaders to build local support of this new option”

District Four Councilmember Trevor Ozawa spoke on Take2 Monday morning and said he supports the company being here, but he plans to monitor what they do.

“Just making sure they’re out of the way, ingress and egress of buildings, sidewalks. I brought up these concerns I had with Lime and they’ve been very attentive to that. They understand that we’re going to be holding them to a high standard and with a tight leash as we monitor this. They’ve agreed to do that,” Ozawa said.

The Honolulu operations manager for Lime told us the scooters are meant to be used in bike lanes, but Caldwell said that’s in violation of city ordinance because the scooters are electric.

Caldwell also added Lime could face fines.

A Lime spokesperson told KHON2 the company is working to evaluate its next steps.

We’ll be sure to keep following this story and let you know what happens.

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