The Lime electric scooter company says it is leaving the Atlanta market due to lack of profitability.
The move comes less than two years after Lime and rival company Bird began flooding public streets with their rentable scooters without notice. The scooters quickly became popular, while also forcing the city to scramble to regulate them amid safety concerns.
Brad Bao, Lime’s CEO and co-founder, announced the move Jan. 9 on the company’s blog. Atlanta is one of 12 international markets that the company will leave, he wrote. Lime did not immediately respond to questions about the timing of the pull-out.
“Part of realizing our vision to transform urban mobility is achieving financial independence; that is why we have shifted our primary focus to profitability,” Bao wrote on the company blog. “While the vast majority of our 120-plus markets have adopted micromobility transportation solutions quickly and are profitable, there are select communities throughout the world where micromobility has evolved more slowly.”
Bao wrote that Lime executives “remain hopeful we can reintroduce Lime back into these communities when the time is right.”
In early 2019, the city of Atlanta legalized the electric scooters under a permitting and regulation policy. Following a string of fatal accidents, the city halted the issuing of permits for more scooters and banned rentals of the vehicles during night hours pending further review. Among the attention-getting accidents was a non-fatal injury crash involving a juvenile rider on Buckhead’s Peachtree Road.
The lone City Council vote against legalizing scooters came from Councilmember Howard Shook of Buckhead’s District 7, who said the vehicles are inherently dangerous.
Lime had a particular safety controversy a year ago when it revealed a software problem that sometimes caused the scooters’ front wheels to suddenly lock, resulting in crashes and injuries. Despite a pledge of transparency, Lime at the time refused to say whether the problem had resulted in injuries in Atlanta, when a proposed fix would be complete, and whether an independent organization was reviewing the solution.