Lyft Launches Its Own Electric Scooters in Denver

The company is playing catchup to scooter-sharing startups.

byStephen Edelstein| PUBLISHED Sep 7, 2018 12:18 PM
Lyft Launches Its Own Electric Scooters in Denver

Lyft has jumped on the electric scooter-sharing bandwagon. The ride-hailing company is now renting out scooters in Denver as it seeks to catch up with startups like Bird and Lime, and keep pace with rival Uber.

The company was awarded permits for both electric-bike and electric scooter-sharing services, but will only deploy scooters for the time being, reports The Verge. Denver's public works agency has granted permits to a handful of companies allowing them to deploy up to 350 scooters each. Lyft will place 100 of its e-scooters in Denver's "opportunity zones," areas designated as low income and underserved by public transportation.

Like most other scooter-sharing operations, Lyft's will be dockless. That means users don't have to pick up or drop off scooters at specific locations. It's more convenient for users, but has created headaches for cities faced with an influx of scooters littering streets. Lyft's scooters will only be available to rent from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. They cost $1.00 to unlock, and 15 cents for each minute of riding.

Lyft and rival Uber have been trying to gain a foothold in the two-wheeled transportation sector. Last month, the two companies were denied coveted scooter-sharing permits in San Francisco, which opted for startups Skip and Scoot instead. But Lyft and Uber were awarded permits in Santa Monica, California. They displaced startups Bird and Lime, which had been operating in the city for months.

The tension between Uber and Lyft and the various electric scooter and bike-sharing startups presents an interesting startup of an industry in transition. Bird and Lime have employed tactics similar to what Uber and Lyft did in their early days, asking for forgiveness from regulators, rather than permission. The startups have deployed e-scooters in cities, including Denver, without getting formal permission from city officials. Bird and Lime launched in Denver in May, but were forced to remove their scooters from the city's streets after officials threatened to seize them.

Bikes and electric scooters are also another forum for competition between Uber and Lyft. Uber owns the relatively small bike-sharing company Jump, but in July Lyft acquired Motivate, the largest bike-sharing company in the U.S. Uber has since teamed up with Lime on e-scooter rentals, and is reportedly developing its own electric scooter as well.