Electric scooters coming to Hampton with pilot program beginning in 2 neighborhoods

·3 min read

It’s not a true transportation alternative yet, but motorized scooter rentals will be a thing in Hampton soon.

The City Council approved an agreement Wednesday with Neutron Holdings — doing business as Lime — to establish a pilot program for motorized scooter rentals in two Hampton neighborhoods. The city also amended its local ordinances, holding a public hearing on the matter and passed a resolution all on the same day of business.

The agreement grants a one-year temporary license to the San Francisco-based business to access the city’s public rights-of-way and other public spaces to rent up to 250 motorized scooters in Phoebus and downtown Hampton.

Lime will pay Hampton a onetime $5,000 licensing fee, plus 10 cents per ride. The fees gathered may be used to create parking corrals, crosswalk striping or signs, deputy city attorney Bonnie Brown said. For riders, trips start at $3 for 6 minutes; after that an additional 32 cents per minute. There are cheaper rates for qualified persons receiving federal, state or local subsidies.

The scooters will mostly be accessed with a smartphone using the Lime app, but riders can also text to unlock a scooter. It’s not clear when exactly the scooters will appear.

“There’s always a bit of looking around, you know, how are we going to do this, but I will invite all of you at your discretion to ride the scooter,” Lime owner, Robert Gardner told council Wednesday. “We’ll be happy to give you a safety training.”

Gardner said Lime will be doing community engagement and rolling out safety trainings throughout the pilot area, and digital training on how to use the app to ensure when riders open the app, they see the rules and where one can ride.

Early 2019, the General Assembly adopted broader legislation to oversee shared mobility devices, including scooters, motorized skateboards, bicycles and electric bicycles, adding safety requirements. The state law also authorized localities to “regulate the operation of companies providing motorized skateboards or scooters for hire.” Following that, the council voted to requiring operators to enter into a licensing agreement with the city and modeling its local ordinance after the state’s law, with a couple tweaks.

In Hampton, riders must be 18, four years older that the state requires. Also speed limits in Hampton are set at 15 miles per hour; the state law allows up to 20 miles per hour. Additionally, Hampton is using “geofencing,” for the pilot areas, which limits where people are allowed to use the scooters and where they can park. In the pilot areas, there are designated intersections where motorized scooters can cross.

Lime has scooters in Richmond, Washington, Roanoke and Norfolk, according to its website. Around Hampton Roads, motorized scooters offered by various companies also are in Virginia Beach, after the city banned scooters in 2019.

Scooters can be helpful with persons who rely on Hampton Roads Transit to get around with the scooter bridging the last portion of someone’s trip if the bus doesn’t stop right in front of their home, Vice Mayor Jimmy Gray said. But limited to only two areas of the city, it’s hard to call them a solution just yet, he said.

“If scooters are permitted citywide, then you can envision scooters at a bus stop, or a transit center,” Gray said. “A person can pick up a scooter and can get to their next destination.”

In other council action, Hampton lifted its local emergency order put in effect last year March 13 and reinstated March 17, after public health officials declared the pandemic. The council also voted to extend temporary permits allowing outdoor dining on Queens Way.

Lisa Vernon Sparks, 757-247-4832, lvernonsparks@dailypress.com

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting