First thoughts upon laying eyes on our new toy: That thing is sturdy as fuck. The Lime-S, a battery-powered personal pan vehicle, is about as much like the Razor Scooter collecting dust in your closet as a Great Dane is like a tea cup poodle: They may be the same species, but only one falls over when you kick it.
We'd been given this e-scooter by a Lime representative who, I think it's safe to assume, was hoping that the thought leaders over here at Stranger HQ1 might use our considerable political power to push the city to embrace these new rides, which aren't street legal in Seattle yet. While e-scooters are ample in San Francisco, Portland, and a handful of other cities in the US, in April, the Seattle Department of Transportation announced that Lime and other scooter-share companies won't be permitted to distribute their scooters on our city sidewalks and streets until a permit program can be developed.
SDOT has some valid reasons to press pause: In San Fransisco, for instance, thousands of the scooters appeared overnight before there was any permit system in place. This caused considerable chaos, with bike lanes and sidewalks all of a sudden clogged with the things. The city issued cease-and-desist letters to scooter share companies and started an official pilot program, but some residents have been appalled by the dangerous and/or just plain annoying behavior on the part of scooter riders. There's even a hashtag: #ScootersBehavingBadly, and SF Gate reported in April that the city had impounded dozens of e-scooters.
While we're currently scooter-share free, Seattle is no stranger to odd vehicles. It's not uncommon to see Solowheels or battery-powered skateboards moving smoothly uphill while the rider expends about as much energy as you do taking a nap. And if Lime wanted some free PR, they came to the right place: While other media outlets may have rules against accepting bribes, not only have I long argued that walking uphill is an innovation just begging to be disrupted, I walked almost 4,000 steps yesterday! My dogs are barking! WOOF! Instead of having to, ya know, walk to get lunch, with the Lime-S, I could zip home for leftovers and a bong hit without breaking a sweat. And so I did. It took a few minutes to get used to, but soon I was zooming around while all the cyclists and pedestrians around me were left in the dust. I loved it—at least until I got to a hill, at which point my scooter's speedometer dropped down to an achingly slow 6 MPH. As I crested Union, I actually had to use my own leg muscles and push. A woman in a walker nearly beat me to to the top.
Will the Lime-S be the solution to Seattle's traffic woes? I doubt it. While cruising down hills on these things could truly making commuting great again, when it comes to the painful part of walking, even Seattle's more moderate hills are just way too steep. It would be faster, cheaper, and less dangerous to just catch the bus. On the flats and the downhills, however, Lime-S is more than up for the task—and the task, in this case, is moving people from one place to another while expending as little human energy as possible. Like this: