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Bike, scooter-share startups take Atlanta by storm, with another option en route

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But not in every neighborhood, it seems

A picture of people on Lime’s scooters and bikes
Lime plans to offer scooter- and bike-share options to Atlanta’s already active market.
Lime

Competition is mounting for bike and scooter-share customers in Atlanta, with another option now entering the fold that could give Bird’s flock a run for its pay-to-ride money.

Lime, the California-based company that in May unveiled plans to roll out a fleet of shareable bikes in Atlanta, recently announced it’s adding a scooter-share service to its intown repertoire, according to a press release.

In a matter of weeks, rentable bikes and scooters cruising down city streets—as well as places they’re not allowed—have become ubiquitous in popular, more populated places.

But observers say that’s not quite the case in south Atlanta neighborhoods.

“As usual, the neighborhoods south of [Interstate] 20 get crumbs,” wrote Alan Holmes, an aide for Atlanta Councilman Dustin Hillis, on Twitter.

“Looks like we will need to organize 100 or so folks, claim the scooters, and bring them to the southside,” he joked in the tweet.

Holmes aired that opinion in response to a post by another Twitter user, which showed screenshots of the in-app maps for Bird, Lime, Muving, and Relay Bike Share.

None of the companies showed a strong presence on Atlanta’s southside, according to the post.

What Atlanta appears to be experiencing, however, is not an anomaly.

According to reports by City Lab, bike-share programs—dock-free scooter rentals seem to be too new to show strong trends—aren’t being sufficiently utilized by the demographic that most needs alternative transit options: lower-income people.

Additionally, startups such as Bird require their electric vehicles to be picked up by “chargers”—people who sign up to round up the stray, battery-drained scooters to bring home for recharging, in exchange for cash.

When the scooters are left in “strange places,” some chargers will opt to turn a blind eye, according to a story in The Atlantic. One charger told the publication he’d almost been mugged multiple times.

That could mean, of course, that fewer people would feel inclined to scoop up Bird scooters —or other shareable vehicles—from Atlanta neighborhoods with checkered criminal histories.

Many bike-share programs have initially been marketed to appeal to low-income earners and their neighbors. But in Atlanta, at least for now, that ambition seems to be falling short.