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Major player Lime leaving Atlanta, and city’s e-scooter options continue to dwindle

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The company found Atlanta’s regulations and fees insurmountable, a rep says

A bright green e-scooter sits tipped over on a sidewalk.
Another one bites the dust.
Sean Keenan, Curbed Atlanta

In January 2019, when the Atlanta City Council enacted its first wave of e-scooter regulations, there were four companies providing the dockless two-wheelers in town: Bird, Lime, Jump, and Lyft.

Even as more operators came on the scene, Bird, Lime, and Lyft led the pack, each with 2,000 rentable vehicles licensed with the City of Atlanta.

But in November, Lyft announced it would be pulling its devices out of the city. That came on the heels of Gotcha’s departure, which had a considerably smaller intown operation.

Now, Lime has announced it’s following suit.

Lime officials confirmed to Curbed Atlanta the company will be uprooting from 12 markets around the world; in the U.S., Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Antonio are soon to be Lime-free.

A company spokesperson sent the following statement regarding the decision to withdraw from Atlanta, which has wrestled with regulating the popular new mobility option:

“As part of our path to profitability, Lime has made the difficult decision to exit Atlanta and focus our resources on markets that allow us to meet our ambitious goals for 2020. We’re grateful to our team members, riders, Juicers, and communities who supported us throughout this journey. We appreciate the partnership we’ve enjoyed with Atlanta and remain hopeful we can reintroduce Lime back into the community when the time is right.”

The spokesperson also asserted that new laws dictating dockless e-scooter and bike operations weren’t conducive to a profitable environment for the company.

In August, for instance, after four e-scooter riders had died in collisions with motorists around Atlanta, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms effected a nighttime ban on e-scooter use after 9 p.m. Some mobility advocates called that a bad move.

It also didn’t help, the spokesperson added, that, for a while, the city allowed any and all companies to set up shop in Atlanta.

The city recently announced it would be retroactively collecting unpaid impound fees for e-scooters left parked on sidewalks or public rights of way. Lime considered those charges—a $75 impound fee per vehicle collected, plus $25 a night for storage—a burden on its business model, the spokesperson said.

The news of Lime’s imminent departure comes in advance of the Atlanta City Council reforming its dockless vehicle regulations.

What those changes might look like is unclear, but some city officials have called for whittling the market down to just a handful of prominent e-scooter providers.

Bird, the first company to scatter e-scooters around the city, is still operating in town, alongside Uber’s Jump and Bolt. Wheels and Boaz Bikes offer hybrids with seats.

This story was updated on January 10, 2020 at 11:52 p.m. to indicate Uber’s Jump e-scooters were also in Atlanta last January.