This week, Lime gets squeezed, U.S. Customs says ebikes are motorcycles, and SF alleges a scooter startup faked its permit, but first…
Dockless vehicles run amok (photo cred: Emma Silver)
Welcome to the Micromobility Newsletter, a weekly missive about mobility, mostly mobility in cities by lightweight utility vehicles. The reason you’re reading this email is that you signed up on our website or you came to one of our events. If you’d like to unsubscribe, just click that link.
A Sword and A Shield
Operators in the micromobility space know that insurance costs are a significant but necessary expenditure. It’s important to understand that your insurance policy can be used not only as a mode of protection but also as a tool for expansion.
By forecasting expansion, operators can put themselves at an advantage if the right levels of coverage are already in place prior to submitting for a permit. While competitors work to comply with RFP requirements, more prepared operators can submit early and show they’re organized, making them more likely to win limited permits.
Reach out to Founder Shield for a free assessment and access their database of city requirements with corresponding costs.
In a new episode of the podcast, Oliver Bruce talks to Superpedestrian CEO Assaf Biderman about how on-board intelligence can drive down operational costs and improve vehicle longevity for micromobility operators.
As a bonus, check out this short video of Biderman from Micromobility Europe explaining how his company’s deep-tech solution can keep scooters alive longer.
🎆 Coming Attractions 🎆
Here it is: Tomorrow we are going to announce the first speakers for our upcoming conference in the Bay Area, Micromobility America.
As a refresher, we are bringing over a thousand leaders in new mobility to Richmond, CA, on April 22-23 for two days of in-depth panels, engrossing conversations, hands-on demos with the latest vehicles, and more.
Going forward, we are going to start revealing new speakers almost every week by email, starting tomorrow.
If you haven’t done so already, hit the subscribe button to stay in the loop.
What You Need to Know This Week
Leading off, a new report from JAMA Surgery finds that U.S. injuries from electric scooters leapt almost 225% between 2014 and 2018. What explains the sudden spike? A new article from Streetsblog argues not enough infrastructure and too many cars—and we agree.
Another factor to consider is the starting point of JAMA’s study period, 2014, a few years before scooters became popular. Bird, the first startup to make scooters available to rent on demand, launched in Santa Monica in late 2017. Lime spox Russell Murphy sums it up: “I would posit that there was probably a rise in car crashes between the year before the Model-T and the year after the Model-T.”
Lime is letting go of 14% of its workforce, or around 100 employees, and closing shop in 12 cities, mostly in the southwest U.S. and Latin America. Despite the downsizing, Lime’s president, Joe Kraus, says he is confident that the company will be profitable in 2020. (In November, Lime said it hoped to be EBIT positive this year, so this is new.) Kraus also pushed back on rumors that the company is raising a new round of funding. | Axios
Separately, Lime is laying off juicers in California. It’s unclear whether this restructuring is related to AB5, a new state law that makes it harder for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, or part of a broader transition to in-house and third-party labor. | Harry Campbell
Unagi has updated its main scooter with two 250W motors, enabling better torque and a top speed of 19 mph (about 20% faster than previously). Customers can also choose to customize their scooter with a wide variety of colors and patterns. | The Verge
Want to understand what’s going on with Paris’s hotly anticipated scooter permit—err, “tender”—process? Local expert Alexandre Gauquelin has a rundown on everything you need to know, including the three companies he is currently betting will make the cut. (Spoiler: It’s Dott, Lime, and Voi.)
Chinese ebike manufacturer Bafang says Europe accounts for 60% of its sales, despite the strong anti-dumping measures the EU has imposed on Chinese imports. | Cycling Industry
People with disabilities in the Bay Area will soon be able to rent a seated scooter from Lime for $32 a day, or $16 for those on public assistance. Research shows 8% of the company’s users worldwide have either a temporary or permanent disability. | Fast Company
Heads up transit planners, the World Economic Forum has a new study that shows how women travel differently than men, mostly due to socioeconomic reasons.
Bajaj Auto has revived India’s iconic Chetak moped. The big difference between the original and updated two-wheeler is that the new version, which goes on sale today, is powered by a battery, not gas. | India Today
U.S. Customs has ruled that ebikes fall under the same category as electric motorcycles and are therefore exempt from the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese bicycle products. | Bicycle Retailer
Californians with qualifying incomes can now trade in their cars for $7,500 to be used for mass transit fares, shared micromobility memberships, and ebike purchases. | Clean Technica
A study of parking in five U.S. cities finds that 24% of cars commit some kind of violation, compared to less than 1% of scooters and bikes. | Nick Klein
As part its ongoing realignment toward scooters, Lime will not renew its dockless ebike contracts in the Boston area. | Boston
… this makes Lime the latest in a series of bike-share systems to leave the Massachusetts capital. However the city’s main docked scheme, Lyft-run Bluebikes, appears to be in good health. | Curbed
As reported last week, Revel has officially entered Oakland with 1,000 electric mopeds for rent. | SFGate
Related: Revel’s supplier, China-based Niu, is going to begin selling sit-down scooters in eight U.S. cities. Entry prices will start in the mid-$2,000 range. | The Verge
Also, Niu just unveiled an e-motorcycle and a self-balancing, covered three-wheeler with limited autonomous capabilities at CES. | Inverse
In the Netherlands, new tax breaks and incentives are expected to put an additional 150,000 ebikes on the road by the end of 2020. | Ebiketips
On that note, Dutch ebike maker QWIC has raised over $10 million in funding from De Hoge Dennen Capital. | Bike Europe
Ant Financial–backed Hellobike, a survivor of China’s bike-sharing bubble, claims to have hit more than 300 million registered users. | Technode
More details have emerged about Harley-Davidson’s mysterious electric moped. | Electrek
In a new op-ed, Voi CEO Fredrik Hjelm argues that cities should set higher standards for scooter operators and grant fewer permits, unlike Copenhagen, which is allowing 10 companies with a 300 vehicle limit each. | Sifted
For docked bike-share, almost 80 percent of riders are coming from within 1,000 feet of a station, or about four city blocks, according to a new study. | Science Daily
Lime has introduced its weekly subscription service, LimePass, in France. | EN24
San Francisco’s city attorney sent a cease and desist letter to Go X for operating without a permit. The city alleges that the scooter startup is using fake documents with an official Chamber of Commerce seal and that it owes more than $200,000 in unpaid fines. Go X claims that its business does not fall under the city’s regulations because it rents scooters on private properties, not public sidewalks. The city is giving the company until January 18 to remove its scooters. | SF Chronicle
Thank You to Our Partners
Before we announce our first Micromobility America speakers tomorrow, we want to give a big shout out to our sponsors, without whom the Bay Area event would not be possible.
If your company is interested in partnering or exhibiting at Micromobility America, contact us.