On November 18, Lyft announced that it would be pulling its scooter service from six cities across the United States. In Nashville, San Antonio, and Columbus, Ohio it will end this week; in Atlanta, the e-scooters will depart November 23. Lyft will also be pulling the e-scooters from Dallas and Phoenix. The move will result in 20 layoffs; about 5 percent of the department and outside contractors that charge and reposition the scooters will be affected too.
Lyft believed that there was not enough demand in the cities it pulled the scooters from, instead focusing on cities with the greatest population density and opportunity for growth for e-scooters. “We’re choosing to focus on the markets where we can have the biggest impact,” the company said in a statement. “We’re continuing to invest in growing our bike and scooter business but will shift resources away from smaller markets and toward bigger opportunities.”
In addition to lack of demand and growth opportunity, Lyft could also be pulling from the Nashville market because the mayor proposed an e-scooter ban in response to a fatal accident; though the proposal failed, the city limited the number of e-scooters and initiated a curfew in August. In Atlanta, e-scooters are banned from 9pm to 4am after fatal nighttime accidents.
Other micromobility companies have also pulled from different markets. Uber pulled JUMP bikes and scooters from a few markets including San Diego, Providence, and Atlanta; in part because of regulatory challenges. Meanwhile, automobile makers are venturing into the micromobility market.
Electric scooters are controversial due to the lack of regulation and the reports of clogged sidewalks, injuries, and deaths. Cities have begun to regulate in response; The Centers of Disease Control stated that most of these injuries are preventable. “A high proportion of e-scooter related injuries involved potentially preventable risk factors, such as lack of helmet use, or motor vehicle interaction,” a preliminary summary of the study CDC said.
The CDC study indicated that “[o]f the injuries reported, 45% were head injuries, 27% an upper extremity fracture, and 12% a lower extremity fracture. The majority (52%) of e-scooter injury incidents occurred in the street, 29% involved first-time riders, 18% involved motor vehicles, and < 1% of riders reported helmet use…the e-scooter related injury incident was 14.3 per 100,000 trips.”
Lyft will continue to have scooters in San Diego, Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, and Washington DC metro areas, as well as the Bay Area. Lyft will be bringing its electric bicycles to San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. The e-bike announcement comes after Lyft pulled the bikes due to a potential battery fire issue.