ROANOKE, Va. – It's been nearly three weeks since the first dockless, electric scooters hit Roanoke's streets. And while many people are using them properly, others aren't. Lime scooters have been placed in trees, riders have broken traffic laws, and users have ridden when they should not have.
Some issues are obvious, others are not so obvious and Roanoke Police say they will soon be enforcing the law for scooter riders. Lime requires riders to be 18 years old or older and wear a helmet. But they can't write the tickets for riding on the sidewalk, against traffic or under the influence. A police spokeswoman said the department is currently studying the law, which also applies to bicycles, to know what officers can enforce.
Daniel Smith is the go-to-guy in Roanoke for all things Lime scooter. He and his staff around town in their Lime van, and if they see riders doing something they're not supposed to, they'll let them know.
"When we first started, there was a lot of improper riding, and we wanted to correct that because I wanted Roanoke and the city of Roanoke and its residents to be happy that lime is here," Smith said.
It didn't take long to see scooter scofflaws when the 10 News cameras hit the streets. Within minutes, we saw a rider going the wrong way down a one-way street, and then immediately after, we saw a rider on the sidewalk. With nearly 13,000 rides so far, one can see where the problems arise.
"You have to pretend like you're in a car, you're no different just because you're on a scooter," Smith said.
That's why Lime is doing more safety events at the city's request. They're teaching the right way to ride, which is in the street, with traffic, obeying all lights and stop signs. They'll be on the market from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. this Saturday. That's when people are out and about downtown, which Lime data showed is when usage is maxed.
"That is the peak riding time for Roanoke, which is downtown because that's where most of the people are riding," Smith said.
While Lime is promoting good citizenship and adherence to the rules of its product, Roanoke police are concerned with people breaking traffic laws, ranging from sidewalk riding to DUI. Police say there can be consequences, and officers will start writing tickets. Lime hopes safety events discourage people from breaking the law.
"We just want to kind of redirect those actions and just remind them that there is safety and laws that Virginia does recognize because these are a motorized vehicle," Smith said.
Roanoke police are also launching a social media campaign to help educate people, and riders must agree to follow all rules before they can use the app.