The fast-growing electronic scooter company Lime has decided to immediately remove one of the company's brands from every city in the world after determining that scooters could break in use.
The decision to suddenly remove the scooters from the street came several weeks after the company said that the same model sometimes separated "when it was subjected to repeated abuse".
But on Friday – in response to Washington Post questions about scooters crashing under normal driving conditions – Lime said she was "looking for information that Okai-made scooters could break and work in cooperation with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and the competent authorities at the international level to get to the bottom of things. "
Okai is a Chinese manufacturer of scooters and other products. No one could be contacted at an email address or phone number listed on his website – or at a phone number provided by Lime.
Lime said that it would decommission all Okai scooters used in its fleets, but company officials said it was difficult to determine the exact number of scooters involved in the recall and refused to provide an estimate. They also refused to reveal the number of US cities owning these devices.
Cyclists in cities across the country regularly report on social media that they've seen lime scooters broken in half, often where the plinth meets the rod.
"Security is the highest priority of Lime," said the company in a statement. "The vast majority of Lime's fleet is manufactured by other companies.Outused Okai scooters are being replaced by newer and more advanced scooters, considered the best in safety." We're not planning no real service interruptions. "
The mass kidnapping comes several weeks after Lime – one of the country's largest scooter companies – admitted having released thousands of its scooters this summer after discovering that a small number of them were carrying batteries that could catch fire.
The Segway mobility company manufactured these scooters, which rejected Lime's accusations that a manufacturing defect made the scooters vulnerable to fire.
Some Lime employees, runners and other affiliates say they are concerned that the company has not advanced far enough to address scooter breakage concerns.
An independent Lime contractor who loads the scooters overnight, known as the juicer, provided copies of e-mails showing that he had warned the company of the problem of scooter failures as early as September.
The juicer, a man in his forties named "Ted," has asked that his last name not be used for fear of retaliation. He said that a few weeks after starting working for Lime in July, he began to notice cracks in baseboards and breaks in the street. He estimated that he found cracks in the plinth of nearly 20% of the scooters he had picked up for loading. Finally, he highlighted the problem in a long article in Reddit including several photos of broken scooters.
In an email dated September 8, addressed to Lime's technical support, Ted warned Lime of four scooters with "cracks under the bridge," which he described as a "systematic problem." It included photos and identification codes for each device. Ted also asked about his payments to charge the devices.
A Lime employee responded to his email, but did not deal with faulty scooters.
"Thank you for your email and our apologies for the challenge," wrote the employee, referring to a separate question regarding payment. "I have submitted your payment to the finances; please allow four to seven days for the display. The payment will appear as a "bonus". We appreciate your patience and your understanding.
The message prompted Ted to respond with another plea for safety.
"I hope the Lime team takes seriously the problem of scooter decks that crack," he wrote. "I have now dropped off at the warehouse three completely cracked scooters in two and four others that had begun to crack. All cracked in the same place.
"I think it's a design flaw that's starting to surface," he added.
Ted said that lime has never responded. Lime declined to comment on his account.
A lime mechanic in California, who is responsible for maintaining the aircraft, said that employees at his warehouse doing the daily maintenance of the company's scooters had identified scooters that could crack in recent months. This employee stated that the managers did not aggressively follow these concerns. The mechanic spoke under cover of anonymity and did not want to identify the city where he worked for fear of revealing his identity.
The locomotive engineer – who said the employees were monitoring the life of the scooters after their deployment on city streets – said cracks could form in the skirting board a few days after the devices were put on the streets. The mechanic provided a video showing employees performing tests in which lime scooters break after a few short jumps. After telling the company about the company's Slack messaging system, another mechanic told a manager that the device could break even when the rider weighed just 145 pounds, according to images from discussions at The Post.
"I would say that it is not safe for public use," wrote the other mechanic. "It's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured. . . if not here, elsewhere.
Responding to a message on Slack, a manager said she had "expressed concerns" about scooters broken down and that mechanics should continue to test problem scooters and "work on reinforcement techniques." The manager wrote that she would send pictures of similar techniques that she "gathered from other markets".
Lime refused to comment on the mechanic's statements or the Slack exchange.
A spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission said the agency did not pre-approve products until they came to market. If the consumer reports and verifies if a "substantial risk related to the product" is detected, the agency could work with a company to set up a recall.
"The model we are observing does not mean that products do not meet safety standards," said the spokesman, referring to electric scooters. "It's more the fact that consumers have problems because of limited knowledge of their use, lack of protective equipment and their use in crowded and distracted environments."
Since Lime launched his scooters this spring, two people died while they were using this device and others were seriously injured, according to authorities. When the police found a scooter that Jacoby Stoneking was driving before being injured in the head by a blunt force in the early morning of September 1, the aircraft was broken in half, although little detail on this accident are known, according to police and Lime officials. . The 24-year-old from east Dallas died at the hospital the next day.
Stoneking's death echoed Stephen Williams, a 29-year-old Dallas man, who said he was wounded after being wounded after being caught on a busy street on October 10, throwing him to the ground the first time. . A week later, Williams said, his ankle, knee, back and neck were still suffering.
Contemplating his accident, Williams – who works as a data analyst in a tech company – remembered the details surrounding the Stoneking accident and began to wonder if there was a trend. He began looking for examples of broken Lime scooters, eventually recording more than 40 instances on social media, in news stories and on Reddit, including six that he personally encountered. Williams included these figures in an extensive analysis of the electronic scooters that he provided to the Texas Department of Transportation in Dallas, as well as to Lime officials.
His verdict: In a city heavily dependent on the car for personal mobility, scooters have great potential to "pick up" the city, allowing people to travel to neighboring neighborhoods without creating more traffic. But, he said, he considers the Lime Okai model too dangerous for him.
"I'm extremely disappointed, maybe betrayed by these devices," said Williams, who refuses to ride with another file until the company improves scooter safety. "It's disappointing for me because the usefulness of these devices is so profound."