NORFOLK, Va. — Getting around Norfolk is about to get easier and faster.
City council approved an e-scooter pilot program with Lime Tuesday night. The approval makes Norfolk the first city in Hampton Roads to embrace the electric scooter company.
The initiative will last a year beginning on June 24 and will help the city asses the viability of electric scooters as a mobility option for Norfolk residents and visitors. The pilot program will be a year long.
"We are excited to bring Lime to Norfolk! The City is committed to improving transportation access and providing first-and last-mile solutions to support public transit,” said Director of Transit Amy Inman. “This pilot program advances our commitment to ensure residents and visitors have convenient, reliable commuting options to safely reach their destination."
The city-wide program will launch with 150 electric scooters. The goal is to have 500 scooters by the Fourth of July weekend.
Samuel Wheeler, a Norfolk resident, said he plans to use the scooters on a regular basis.
"I live in Park Place, I go to school here, I work right in Ghent, so everything I go to is within a mile or two radius," said Wheeler. "[It's] definitely cheaper and easier than using my car."
Lime is a dockless system so riders can stop, hold and end rides by parking the scooters on sidewalks, in plazas and in other public right-of-way areas but clear of building entrances and ramps. In order to ensure scooters are parked properly, Lime ensures that scooters are parked properly through preferred parking zones and photo verification.
"They're very respectful of the right of way," said Amy Inman, Assistant Director of Norfolk's Department of Transportation. "Before you can stop the trip, you have to actually take the photo and show that you parked the scooter appropriately. If you haven’t, it will continue to charge the user."
Lime offers access to their scooters on the smartphones with an app and also with cash-based options for non-smartphone users through its Lime Access Program.
Electric scooter riders have the same rights of the road as bikes and cars and are expected to follow traffic laws. E-scooter riders are encouraged to wear helmets while riding.
Riders can find available scooters and parking locations in the app, rides cost $1 to unlock, and 15 cents a minute to ride.
City leaders considered proposals from four different electric scooter companies. Ultimately, they decided Lime would be the best fit for the area.
Previously, the city experienced problems with Bird scooters that were dropped off without permission. City Spokesperson Lori Crouch said if Bird scooters pop up again, the city will pick them up.