| 1:26 PM EST

Lime Suspends Scooter Sharing in Select Areas

Coronavirus adds to financial struggles for fledgling industry


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San Francisco-based micromobility giant Lime has suspended its scooter service in California, Washington, France, Italy and Spain to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The areas are among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“Like you, we are worried about the cities we love and call home, the people we serve, and our colleagues on the ground,” CEO Brad Bao wrote on the company’s website. “Loving cities means protecting them too. For now, we’re pausing Lime service to help people stay put and stay safe.”

No Place Like Home

The decision was an easy one in Lime’s home market. Effective this morning, San Francisco and surrounding counties instituted a “shelter in place” mandate for all residents, which essentially prohibits nonessential travel “on foot, bicycle, scooter, automobile or public transit,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The directive, which affects 6.7 million people, is due to last until at least April 7.

In the markets it’s still operating in, Lime says it has enhanced and increased the cleaning of its scooters. This includes cleaning all parts of the scooter that are touched by people and using products approved by the EPA against the coronavirus.

Compounding Financial Struggles

Lime, which claims to be the largest scooter-sharing company in the world, pulled out of 12 cities in January to focus on more profitable markets. Last November, Bao said the 2-year-old company was on a path to become profitable in 2020.

Image: Lime

But Lime and rivals such as Bird, Scoot, Skip and Spin have struggled to turn the corner due to tight operating costs and an over-saturation in the fledgling industry. All of the companies have been forced to lay off workers—including a reported 14% reduction at Lime—in recent months and exit select markets.

To date, Lime is the only scooter company to suspend services related to the coronavirus, according to The Verge. Competitors say they are closely monitoring the situation. Just like all businesses and people around the world.