Tahoe Tribune review: Lime scooters fun, sometimes scary, to ride
June 18, 2018
I've never been on an electric scooter, but after seeing people zooming all over South Lake Tahoe on them I had to try it out.
LimeBike came to the South Shore a year ago with its fleet of bikes and returned this year with bikes and, a couple of weeks later, scooters.
Wind smacked my face and gusted through my helmet. My eyes watered. My clothes were stuck to my body. These scooters really move.
I was rolling along with a big smile. My test ride was surprisingly thrilling. And I don't get thrilled easily. It takes something like my favorite professional teams winning championships, ascending difficult-to-protect rock climbs or heading down a steep backcountry ski descent.
The ride was likely made more thrilling by moments of sheer terror.
To begin, I downloaded the Lime app to my phone, set up my credit card payment plan and went on the search for a scooter. Well, not a search, but a 20-step walk to one near the Tribune's office in the Mountain Lab.
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While trying to activate a scooter, my phone would not scan the bar code despite repeated efforts. I enlisted the help of my editor, Ryan Hoffman, and he went through the same process of downloading the app. He made a (mandatory?) $10 deposit, which seemed to do the trick. On the scooter it says it costs $1 to activate, but without a $10 deposit, it didn't work for me.
Editor's note: I think Bill was just trying to get a free ride.
With the technical problems in the rear-view mirror, I was off and rolling. Per the instructions, I pushed and got the scooter rolling before hitting the accelerator, an easy to use button near my right hand.
I tried to get used to the handling on neighborhood roads before taking it out into the "real world" — the bike path alongside U.S. 50 near Lakeview Commons.
Watch that brake! The scooter I rode reached 17 mph and when I went to brake, I hit the button near my left hand and just about pulled a Superman. The quick slow down almost made me go right over the handlebars and receive a mouthful of pavement.
Once I knew what to expect, I headed out onto the congested road. While cars were stopped and waiting for the light to change, I was able to cruise right on by, after following all the traffic laws, of course. While cruising faster than traffic, I was thinking: Why in the heck would anyone choose to pedal a LimeBike rather than ride a scooter?
I was jarred out of my thoughts by cracks, potholes and metal braille-like manhole covers. I felt every imperfection and bump in the road. The good news was that helped me concentrate and stay in the moment. The bad news was that I was afraid I'd hit one of those Tahoe-sized potholes and fall into the path of a car.
I traveled from Champions Plaza at Lakeview Commons back to the Mountain Lab faster than traffic.
I turned right on Modesto Boulevard, which has a nice wide, smooth bike path. I "floored" it again and got up to speed, but had trouble making the right hand turn back to the office. I didn't slow down fast enough and forced a couple of other Lime scooter users to avoid my reckless path. I didn't receive the nicest looks from both, and my "sorry" felt a little insufficient.
Overall, I traveled just .7 miles in 11 minutes and the cost for my editor was $1.65.
I can see myself using the scooter to get around town, especially when the traffic becomes fierce later this summer.
The Lime scooters aren't necessarily here for people to joyride, they're more for transit from one location to another. I returned my scooter to where I started, but they can be left anywhere in accessible spaces like curbsides, near bike racks, but not where they'll block pedestrian paths, sidewalks or ADA ramps.
I would strongly recommend using a helmet, and by "strongly recommend" I mean it's against the law to not have a helmet. Seventeen mph may not seem like much, but when I almost went head-over-bars I realized that it was plenty fast. Even knee and elbow pads are not a bad idea to help avoid injury from a fall.
The scooters are only for adults, 18 and older. I wouldn't let my (imaginary) child ride one on roads, at least not anywhere near cars and busy intersections.
Lime scooters have a lot of good uses, like commuting for work, getting groceries and avoiding the emissions from starting cars. But I also can see quite a few injuries occurring throughout the summer.
Time will tell.
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