A crash course on not crashing the city's new Bird and Lime-S electric scooters

If you’ve spent any time between Clintonville and German Village, from Grandview to Olde Towne East, you’ve probably seen the zippy little electric scooters that were dropped throughout the city last month with little to no notice. And if you’re like any of the folks who have seen me unlocking or riding one of these dockless gems, you probably have questions.

After using and wiping out on both services—Bird and Lime-S—I’m here to answer those questions and share some bruising advice.

Bird and Lime-S electric scooters have a lot in common:

Both function via an app on your smartphone, which you use to locate, unlock and pay for a scooter; both apps are available in the Apple App and Google Play stores. Both require you to enter your driver’s license information when registering and to wear a helmet when riding. They’re meant to be ridden in bike lanes when available or in the road when a bike lane isn’t present; neither is meant to be ridden on the sidewalk, according to the app developers. However, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein recently released a statement that the Division of Police are to allow riders to use both sidewalks and roadways, due to "lack of clarity in the law surrounding how these types of scooters should be regulated." Both charge $1 to start a ride and 15 cents per minute after that. Both need a push start; there’s a throttle button on the right handlebar  and a grip-style brake on the left handlebar, similar to that of a bicycle. The left handlebar also has a bell to warn others of your presence. They have kickstands to use when parking, and both companies ask that you park the scooters near a bike rack, when possible; otherwise, on the sidewalk—out of the way of foot traffic—is fine. Both cap speeds at approximately 15 mph, though you can bump that up slightly if you happen to be traveling downhill—something both apps caution against. They are battery-operated and need charged. Riders can check the current charge before riding by opening the app and holding it over the QR barcode used to unlock the scooters—not a bad idea if you’re planning to ride for a while. Both offer revenue opportunities for those who are willing to collect the scooters in the evenings and charge them in their own homes; this position is called a “Juicer” for Lime-S and a “Charger” for Bird.

As for differences, well, I couldn’t find many. The design seems to be the biggest; Lime-S sports a white-and-green palette (compared to Bird’s all-black aesthetic), as well as a taller handlebar configuration and a wider footboard. As a 5-foot, 8-inch woman, I feel more secure and balanced on the Lime-S.

My best advice? Wear those helmets, folks, and try not to brake too hard. Both electric scooters can be a little unstable for those not used to them, especially at top speed, and flying into the pavement at 15 mph still hurts. Just ask my road rash and sprained ankle. (Pick up the October issue for my full—and funny—story on that one.)


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