Lime watching Milwaukee-Bird lawsuit closely

Bikeshare and scootershare startup has been working with city for a year

Dockless bikeshare company LimeBike has approached the city about launching here.

Dockless bikeshare and scootershare startup Lime is watching closely as its scootershare competitor Bird Rides Inc. battles with the City of Milwaukee to allow it to operate here.

Dockless bikeshare and scootershare company Lime has approached the city about launching here.

Gabriel Scheer, director of government affairs and strategic development at San Francisco-based Lime (formerly known as LimeBike), said the City of Milwaukee’s lawsuit against Bird could provide guidance for Lime.

Scheer said he first contacted the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works in August 2017 to discuss Lime’s plans to launch here. So far, it hasn’t done so.

“We have reached out to the city numerous times and would very much like to work with the city on crafting regulations that work for both the city and us to allow the city to bring increased affordable, low-carbon mobility options across the city,” Scheer said.

Lime has been pushing the city to put an ordinance in place for its services for almost a year. Bird, on the other hand, did not contact the city prior to distributing its scooters around town on June 27. Now, the city is suing Santa Monica, California-based Bird, saying the electric scooters are in violation of state law.

Gabriel Scheer explains LimeBike at Startup Milwaukee Emerge in April.

“We remain committed to working with the city. We’d love to sit down with the city and hammer out a regulatory environment that would work for us, as well as our competitors,” Scheer said. “That’s (Bird’s) actions and they do what they do, and we do what we do.”

Scheer brought several scooters to Milwaukee to introduce Lime to the local startup community in April as it evaluated launching here.

“Our approach often starts with trying to be in the community and get people excited about us and then work with the relevant public officials to get something on the books,” he said.

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman recently said he plans to propose legislation this week to allow dockless bikeshare in Milwaukee that was crafted as a result of Lime’s inquiry almost a year ago. Scheer said he learned of the planned legislation from BizTimes’ article about it.

However, dockless scootershare is not on the table because the scooters are illegal for use on public streets or sidewalks under state law, Bauman said, though the city may work with the state on electric scooter laws when the Legislature is back in session in January.

It can be challenging to launch a new technology in cities nationwide when the laws may not cover it, Scheer said.

“Change is challenging for every city,” he said.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

No posts to display