If you live in a major city in the U.S. or Canada, you’ve probably noticed more and more electric scooters popping up. Bird, Lime, and Skip have been around for almost a year, and now Lyft is also in the game trying to become the popular electric scooter in town.
Some city officials (and a lot of citizens) aren’t exactly big fans of electric scooters. But for the people that ride them, they’re growing in popularity. They’re fun to cruise around on. They’re compact. And riding a scooter certainly beats sitting in traffic.
Scooters are also eco-friendly and reduce emissions caused by traditional gas-powered vehicles. And on top of that, they’re an inexpensive mode of transportation. So no matter how much backlash there is in certain cities, one thing is for sure – scooters aren’t going anywhere.
In 2018, rideshare service Lyft jumped on the electric scooter bandwagon. They were quick to recognize the success of Bird, Lime, and Skip and, as a result, launched Lyft Scooters this past September.
Uber, always in competition with Lyft, launched JUMP around the same time as their way of getting in on the scooter craze. But today we’re not talking about Uber JUMP, instead, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about Lyft Scooters.
- What is Lyft Scooters?
- How Does Lyft Scooters Work?
- What Makes Lyft Scooters Unique?
- What is the Community Program?
- Lyft Scooter FAQs
What is Lyft Scooters?
Lyft started rolling out their fleet of electric scooters in Denver in September 2018.
According to a recent Verge article:
“[…] the company plans on dropping 350 scooters initially, including 100 scooters for the city’s ‘opportunity zones,’ which are designated as low-income and underserved by public transportation.”
The service operates much like other scooter rentals in major cities. They’re compact, dockless, electric scooters that run up to 15 mph and work just like any other electric scooter on the street. Like the competitors, they cost $1 to unlock, plus 15 cents for every minute you ride.
The Verge article linked above goes on to say that, “[…] the scooters are made by Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi, and they retail for around $500. They have a top speed of 15mph and a range of around 15 miles.”
But there are some differences between Lyft Scooters and other scooter services. Most notably, Lyft Scooters are only available to rent between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm.
Despite the affordability, the ease of renting, and the eco-friendly benefits, the Denver launch got off to a rocky start. It was a bit difficult for Lyft to get their city permits in place. And Denver’s not the only city where Lyft is having trouble. Lyft has been denied the permits they need to roll out their fleet of scooters in San Francisco.[su_note note_color=”#ffbf40″]On the upside, Lyft Scooters are currently permitted in Arlington, Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Monica, and Washington DC. To see Lyfts fully updated list of cities, head here.[/su_note]
Why is Lyft having trouble getting permits in some cities? Because of the chaos that resulted when Lime and Bird launched in various towns. City officials are now getting smarter and developing more clear-cut laws to protect people.
But if riders love scooters so much, why are city officials making it so hard to access them? Because, unfortunately, there are a lot of careless scooter operators out there.
You’ll see scooters littering the streets. You’ll see people dumping them on sidewalks and creating obstacles for pedestrians. Cities have to do what they have to do to make their roads safe for everyone.
Lyft wants riders to try their service, so you’ll see discounts and incentives popping up, just like with their rideshare service.
If you’re thinking about trying one, make sure you take advantage of any discounts or promo codes offered. With a promo code or discount, an already inexpensive ride can be even cheaper!
How Does it Work?
The process for renting a Lyft Scooter is very similar to that of Lime and Bird. To get started, open up the Lyft app on your phone.
It’s the same app you use for the rideshare service. If you’re in a city where Lyft Scooters operate, you’ll see a small scooter icon on the screen.
Simply tap that icon, and the map will populate with the location of nearby scooters. Pick the one you want to reserve and book it in advance with the time you want to pick it up.
If you happen to be nearby a scooter and decide on a whim that you want to take a ride, scan the QR code on the scooter to get going. You can reserve a scooter up to 15 minutes before your desired ride time.
You’ll pay just $1 to unlock the scooter and 15 cents per minute to ride.
To start a scooter, Lyft says, “Kick-start the ground twice and press the throttle on the right-hand side of the handlebar to accelerate. To stop, squeeze the brake on the left-hand side of the handlebar. Battery level is displayed on both the handlebar of your scooter, as well as in your Lyft app.”
If you’re riding and need to make a stop along the way, open up the app and tap Lock to hold or pause your scooter until you’re ready to ride again.
After you’re done riding, tap End Ride. Once you hit End Ride, you’ll be charged for your time.
What Makes Lyft Scooters Unique?
The fact is that Lyft Scooters look and operate in a very similar manner to other scooters on the street. They’re dockless, compact, and easy to ride.
But what makes them stand out from the competition is the confidence that consumers have in the Lyft brand. The Lyft rideshare service has been around much longer than Lime, Bird, or Skip.
Consumers that have used the rideshare service tend to feel that Lyft’s scooter service can be trusted.
In addition to that consumer confidence, most riders are already familiar with the Lyft app.
The fact that the scooter rentals are integrated into the existing app makes it much more likely for people to want to take one for a ride.
As with all types of transportation, safety is critical. And Lyft is making safety a big priority by offering scooter riders free helmets. To find out where you can pick up your free helmet, click here.
We expect to see Lyft Scooters in more cities as time goes by. If they’re not in your town yet, be patient. The company is trying to do things correctly and approach their launches in the proper, legal way. They don’t want their scooters dumped all over the city, and neither do city officials. They know they have to take the necessary precautions to make Lyft Scooters a valuable, safe, and legal transportation option.
What is the Community Program?
There’s another reason to trust and want to support Lyft and their new scooter service: the Community Program.
The company has made it clear that their goal with this new service is to provide transportation to all.
According to the Lyft website, “The Lyft Community Pass is a low-income discount program that costs $5 per year and includes unlimited, free, 30-minute rides with our service area. These emissions-free modes of transportation offer a greener alternative to car ownership or rideshare.”
And that commitment to the community makes Lyft Scooters entirely different from other scooter services out there.
You have to meet specific requirements to be eligible to purchase a Community Pass. To sign up or see if you qualify, click here.
Lyft Scooter FAQs
Have some questions or concerns about trying Lyft Scooters? Keep reading for some things you need to know before renting an electric scooter through Lyft.
Where can I park a scooter?
The laws and parking rules vary from city to city, so be sure to check the guidelines for your city here. It’s vital that you know what you can and cannot do with a scooter before you rent one.
In general, you should park your scooter in painted, dockless parking areas whenever they are available. You can’t park or ride a scooter in the way of pedestrians, so make sure you’re at least five feet away from foot traffic on sidewalks.
Scooters must be parked against buildings– not in the middle of the sidewalk or street. You have to be at least 1.5 feet from the back of the curb or flowline.
Do yourself (and your city) a favor and be kind to fellow riders. The way to do so is to park your scooter by transit stops whenever possible. Check the app when you do this because you might even be eligible to receive a discount just for being courteous and considerate!
If you do park at a transit stop, make sure that your scooter is not in the way of pedestrians. Always allow for a clear path of travel. You don’t want to block passengers from boarding or departing their train or bus.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you cannot block an intersection. Lyft says you must “preserve pedestrian sight triangles at intersections, alleys, bus/LRT stops, and driveways.” This is a no-brainer — people on the road need to be able to see oncoming traffic from crossing streets.
When you end your Lyft Scooter ride, park your scooter upright. Don’t litter your city streets with sad scooters tossed on their sides.
Also, make sure your parked scooter isn’t obstructing any access to utilities or blocking the walkway from the sidewalk to the street. You need to allow for eight feet to create a clear walkway from all sidewalks and streets.
How do I report a broken scooter?
If you find a broken scooter or break yours while riding, make sure you report it to Lyft. Simply tap the exclamation point (!) icon in the app and let Lyft know what is wrong.
What are the safety requirements for renting a Lyft scooter?
Safety is always a priority. Exercise caution when riding and avoid doing things that will prevent you from riding in a safe manner.
For example, don’t ride when you’re carrying excessively large or heavy items. Don’t ride in bad weather. And never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
How do I reserve a Lyft Scooter before starting a ride?
Reserving a scooter is easy – click on the Lyft app, select a nearby scooter, and tap Reserve.
You can reserve a scooter for up to 15 minutes, and you will be charged the 15 cents per minute rate during that reservation period. Once you unlock the scooter, you’ll be charged a $1 unlocking fee.
Does Lyft offer any discounts or flat-rate rides?
If you qualify, you can enjoy reduced, discounted rates for scooter rentals. For example, in Denver, you might be eligible if you are over 18 and already qualified for Colorado Works, SNAP, LIHEAP, and similar programs. Click here to apply or see if you are eligible for the Lyft Community Pass.
Where are Lyft Scooters Available?
Lyft Scooters are currently available in Arlington, Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Monica, and Washington DC. To see Lyfts fully updated list, head here.
There’s no question about it – people are looking for inexpensive modes of transportation in and around major cities.
Traffic can be a nightmare. Cars are expensive to lease and own. And finding parking can be downright impossible in certain neighborhoods.
Lyft Scooters offers a great alternative to these common complaints.
With the success of Lime, Bird, and Skip, it’s no surprise that Lyft has jumped on the electric scooter bandwagon. Their scooters are similar to others. Their rates are right on par with their competitors. But they are a little bit different.
Unlike other scooter rental services, Lyft is working hard to provide a safe and legal launch in each city in which they operate.
And their goal to empower everyone in the community to be able to access affordable transportation? Well, that’s just one more reason to support the cause.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.