The electric scooter giant Lime launches the global appeal of one of its models, among the fears that the scooters can break


(Peter Holley / The Washington Post) ((Photo courtesy of Peter Holley / The Washington Post))

The rapidly growing electronic scooter company Lime decided to immediately remove one of the company's brands from all the world's cities after determining that the scooters could break while they were in use.

The decision to suddenly remove the scooters from the streets came several weeks after the company claimed that the same model occasionally broke "when subjected to repeated abuse".

But on Friday – in response to the Washington Post questions about scooters that are divided under the driving force of normal driving conditions – Lime said that he "is examining reports that Okai's scooters could break and cooperate with Consumer Product Safety United States Commission and internationally competent authorities to get to the bottom ".

Okai is a Chinese manufacturer that produces scooters and other products. No one can be reached at an e-mail address or telephone number listed on his website or at the telephone number provided by Lime.

Lime said he would dismantle all the Okai scooters in use through his fleets, but company officials said it was difficult to determine the precise number of scooters affected by the recall and refused to provide an estimate. They also refused to disclose how many cities in the United States own devices.

Motorcyclists in cities across the country regularly report on social media that they have seen Lime scooters split in half, often where the clog meets the root.

"Security is Lime's highest priority," the company said in a statement. "The vast majority of Lime's fleet is manufactured by other companies and the disused Okai scooters are replaced with new and more advanced scooters considered to be the best in the safety category, and we do not foresee any real service interruptions."

Mass removal comes several weeks after Lime – one of the nation's largest scooter companies – has admitted pulling thousands of scooters out of the streets this summer after discovering that a small number of them could carry potentially flammable batteries.

These scooters were made by the mobility company Segway, which rejected Lime's claims that a manufacturing defect made the scooters vulnerable to fire jams.

Some of Lime's employees, knights, and other affiliates say they fear the company has not moved fast enough to address the concerns about the dismantling of scooters.

An independent Lime contractor who loaded the scooters at night, known as a juicer, provided copies of e-mails showing that he had warned the company of the problem of the scooter that was breaking already in September.

The citrus juicer, a forty-year-old man called "Ted", asked that his surname should not be used for fear of retribution. He said that a few weeks after he started working for Lime in July, he began to notice the cracks in the hooves and the broken lime on the street. He estimated he had found cracks on the baseboard in about 20 percent of the scooters he had collected to load. In the end, he highlighted the problem in a long post by Reddit that included more photos of broken scooters.

In an e-mail dated September 8th addressed to the Lime support, Ted warned Lime about four scooters with "cracks on the lower side of the deck", which he called "a systematic problem". It included photos and identification codes for each device. Ted also asked for his payments to top up the devices.

An employee of Lime responded to his e-mail but did not respond to faulty scooters.

"Thank you for your email and our excuses for the challenge," wrote the employee, referring to a separate payment application. "I sent the payment to Finance, please allow four to seven days to post, the payment will be displayed as a" bonus. "We appreciate your patience and understanding."

The message prompted Ted to respond with another security request.

"I hope the Lime team takes the problem of scooter bridges seriously," he wrote. "I left 3 scooters now in the warehouse completely cracked in half and another 4 that had started breaking, all of them broke in the same place."

"I think this is a design flaw that is starting to emerge," he added.

Ted said that Lime never answered. Lime declined to comment on his account.

A Lime mechanic in California, who is responsible for servicing the devices, said that employees of his warehouse who perform daily maintenance on the company's scooters have identified scooters at risk of cracking in recent months. This employee said that managers did not aggressively follow these concerns. The mechanic spoke of anonymity and did not want to identify the city where he works for fear of revealing his identity.

The mechanic – who said the employees monitored how long the scooters remained operational after being deployed in the city streets – could have developed cracks in the baseboard within a few days of placing the devices in the streets. The mechanic provided a video showing employees testing in which the Lime scooters break after a few small jumps. Later on by telling the tests on the company's messaging messaging system, another mechanic noticed to a manager that the device can shoot even when the rider weighs only 145 pounds, according to the images of the discussions provided to The Post.

"I would suggest that these are not safe for public use," wrote the other mechanic. "It's just a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt … if not here, somewhere else."

Responding to a message on Slack, a manager said he had "raised concerns" about the runaway scooters and said that the mechanics should continue testing the problematic scooters and "working on the reinforcement techniques". The manager wrote that he will forward photos of similar techniques that he "collected from other markets".

Lime declined to comment on the mechanic's statements or the Slack exchange.

A spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission said that the agency does not predict products before they reach the market. If a "substantial product risk" is reported by consumers and verified, said the spokesperson, the agency could work with a company to put in place a recall.

"The model we are seeing is not indicative of products that do not meet safety standards for them," said the spokesperson, referring to electric scooters. "It is more than consumers are having accidents due to the unfamiliarity of their use and the lack of protective equipment and their operation in congested and distracted environments".

Since Lime launched its scooters this spring, two people died while driving the devices and others were seriously injured, according to the authorities. When the police found a scooter that Jacoby Stoneking was riding before suffering an irregular cut in the early morning hours of September 1, the device was broken in half, although few other details about the accident are known, according to police and lime officials. The 24-year-old from Dallas died at the hospital the next day.

(Photo courtesy of Stephen Williams) ((Photo courtesy of Stephen Williams))

The death of Stoneking resonated with Stephen Williams, 29, a Dallas man who said he was injured after the scoot he was riding had broken halfway across the busy city street on October 10th, throwing him to the ground on his chest. A week later, Williams said, his ankle, knee, back and neck were still sore.

Contemplating his incident, Williams – who works as a data analyst in a technology company – recalled the details of the Stoneking incident and began to wonder if there was a model. He started to look for examples of broken Lime scooters, and then recorded more than 40 instances on social media, in reports and on Reddit, including six that he met personally. Williams included these numbers in an extensive e-scooter review that he provided to the Texas Department of Transportation in Dallas, as well as Lime officials.

His verdict: in a city heavily dependent on cars for personal mobility, scooters have great potential to "mend" the city "together again", allowing people to travel to nearby neighborhoods without creating more traffic. But, he said, he considers the model of Lime Okai too dangerous for him to drive.

"I feel extremely disappointed, perhaps betrayed, by these devices," said Williams, who refuses to drive another Lime until the company improves the safety of the scooter. "I'm sorry because the usefulness of these devices is so profound."


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