Lime is out, but these three companies are deploying scooters in KC this summer

Experience riding a Bird scooter in downtown Kansas City

Reporter Luke Harbur straps three GoPros to his body to show you how to ride the new Bird scooters in downtown Kansas City.
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Reporter Luke Harbur straps three GoPros to his body to show you how to ride the new Bird scooters in downtown Kansas City.

Lime won’t be returning to downtown, but two new providers will soon deploy scooters to join Bird’s dockless fleet.

Kansas City officials announced Thursday that Bird, RideKC Scooter and Spin, which is owned by Ford, will operate in the corridor from River Market to the Country Club Plaza as part of a one-year pilot program to study shared active transportation.

RideKC Bike will also operate e-bikes through the pilot program. Those hit the streets last November.

RideKC Bike and RideKC Scooter are operated through a partnership with BikeWalkKC and Drop Mobility.

Under the pilot program each company will start with a maximum of devices. The city said it will consider fleet increases based on performance.

Bird was the first to land last summer. It was soon joined by Lime, which recalled some scooters in November and withdrew in December, telling officials it needed to “take stock of what worked, ride out the bitterly cold December and January weather [and] get prepped up for a re-launch this spring.”

But Lime won’t be part of the pilot program. It’s unclear whether it responded to the city’s request for proposals (RFP), and the company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

After Bird and Lime arrived, city officials negotiated interim operating agreements that capped the number of scooters at 500 per operator. It also required a $500 fee and $1 per day for every scooter on the street.

The City Council voted last year to allocate those funds, estimated at $300,000 or more per year, toward a fund to build more affordable housing.

Companies were asked over the winter months to respond to the RFP for the pilot, which is intended to help the city determine whether it should go all-in for scooters by changing street and transportation regulations to accommodate them.

Under the pilot program, companies will pay a $250 application fee and a $15,000 annual permit. Dockless scooter providers will pay $1 per day per device, but docked e-bike companies will pay just $50 per year per device.

Bird scooters have been continuously on the streets. Spin models will start to appear after a launch event Thursday afternoon.

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Allison Kite reports on City Hall and local politics for The Star. She joined the paper in February 2018 and covered Midterm election races on both sides of the state line. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in economics and public policy from the University of Kansas.