HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Executives of the company that suddenly rolled out an electric scooter sharing service in Honolulu over the weekend say they still don't know why police seized almost half of their scooters — or how to get their property back.
Lime Bike officials say they did legal research and found no requirements that would prevent them from starting their business in Honolulu.
They deployed 200 Lime scooters and activated the network Saturday.
Customers who have downloaded the Lime app to their smart phones and set up an account with a credit card are directed to the nearest scooter, which are equipped with GPS. They pay $1 for a code that unlocks the scooter and 15 cents per minute to ride.
They are instructed to park the scooter when they are done as they would a bicycle, outside pedestrian rights of way.
The mayor called the surprise rollout "outrageous" and illegal, and complained about scooters blocking disabled access, bus stops and left on private property.
He said the company should have sought permits to do business on public property.
But LimeBike Strategic Development Director Sam Dreiman denied the rollout was designed to avoid any laws.
"We don't want to deny people the accessibility that they can have because of our devices because of bureaucracy," he said.
Dreiman denied it was a tactic to establish the business without regulation and then develop popularity that would make it hard to displace. He said the company is willing to accept reasonable regulation.
The police department seized and took into storage 90 of the scooters Saturday and Sunday.
A department spokesman had said the scooters were being collected as "found property" and could be collected by the rightful owner. But Lime executives say the department has not responded to their requests for information about exactly what law that police are using.
Lime also wanted the public to know that it has a 24-hour staff in Honolulu ready to pick up any scooter that causes an inconvenience on public or private property, and that its teams collect all the scooters in the evening for charging.
They also have security features and alarms to deter theft.
A spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the company made no sincere effort to discuss challenges like improperly discarded scooters when it reached out to the city. Lime executives say they were encouraged by the advice and support of Councilman Trevor Ozawa in deciding on the rollout and its efforts to engage the administration were unsuccessful.
Caldwell has been supportive of another ride-sharing service, Biki, which received grants and access to city property for docking the bikes.
Some have speculated that his objections may be because Lime might be a major competitor to Biki, especially in Waikiki. But Lime says it will complement the bike-sharing system.
Lori McCarney, CEO of Bikeshare Hawaii, which operates Biki responded this way when asked whether she was concerned about the competition:
"Bikeshare Hawaii and our Biki program welcomes all new modes of transportation that help to make our community healthier, greener and safer for all. We continue to work with the city, state and many local stakeholders to benefit the community to improve and make Biki the best that it can be for residents and visitors."