City calls unauthorized launch of scooter sharing service 'outrageous'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is cracking down on green electric scooters that started appearing on Honolulu streets over the weekend, saying they're operating illegally.

It's part of a new scooter-sharing program called "Lime."

Lime has caused controversy in other U.S. cities by launching its scooter sharing program without permits or permission.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he sent a letter to the company last week, telling them not to deploy their fleet in Honolulu.

But on Friday, they did it anyway.

The Lime scooters aren't tied to docks or charging stations. Riders unlock them using a smart-phone app and then leave them behind when they are done.

The concept is so new, and city officials say they weren't ready for them.

"This kind of company coming in from outside of our state, disrespecting the laws that we have in place, I find outrageous and it's not the kind of thing you want in a city like this," Caldwell said.

He added there have already been problems with riders leaving the scooters all over the place.

Police officers in Waikiki have been picking up abandoned scooters as lost property and storing them until an owner claims them.

"They're in our bus stops, causing ADA problems, they're on our sidewalks, people can trip on them," Caldwell said. "They're in the Ala Wai Canal. They're in our parks. What they're doing is clearly illegal."

But Lime says it worked closely with city and community leaders over the last several months to design a share program for Honolulu. And on Monday, Lime issued an appeal to resident to support the operation so they can continue operating.

"If you enjoy riding Lime and want to make sure Honolulu continues to have affordable, convenient and clean transportation options, we need you to take just a moment to send a message to your City Councilmembers sharing how important this new smart mobility option is and how it's helping transform how you get around town," the company said.

Company officials say they believe the launch of their pilot program is permitted, as long as its safe and consistent with city ordinances.

And Lime says people have already taken more than 1,400 rides in Honolulu.

But the service is getting mixed reviews.

"This thing goes pretty fast," said Issac Lani, who was riding one of the scooters Monday. "It's efficient, easy to use. I think it was about 40 cents to go from here to there so it was really quick."

But Christian Kohler said the scooters are being left everywhere.

"At my friend's apartment complex, they kinda had them all scattered around around the parking garage area. It's kind of just a mess."

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