Chase Boyer Lime Scooter

Chase Boyer rides a Lime scooter through the parking lot at the Washington riverfront Sept. 13. Washington city officials have implemented a 10 p.m. curfew for the scooters.

The time for moonlit midnight rides aboard a Lime scooter in Washington is over after the Washington City Council voted last week to impose a 10 p.m. curfew on the scooters. 

The curfew went into effect Wednesday, Sept. 8, according to Washington Community and Economic Development Director Sal Maniaci. Per the new curfew, Lime scooters will not be operational between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

“If you try to turn one on after the curfew, it won’t turn on,” Maniaci said. 

When the pilot program was first discussed earlier this year, city officials debated implementing a curfew but ultimately didn’t. 

“We had a lot of input from a lot of different people,” said Washington Ward IV Councilman Mark Wessels, who is also a member of the city’s traffic committee.

Since the program’s launch in Washington, users have recorded more than 28,000 miles on the electric scooters. 

“We were the first smaller market that they launched in, and even cities that are close to triple our size have not kept pace (with) the amount of miles we have logged,” Maniaci said. “It is definitely a program that’s being taken advantage of here.”

Wessels and Maniaci said imposing a curfew was necessary to ensure public safety.  

“After the bars close, it wasn’t really safe for people to be using this as an alternative to transportation after consuming alcohol,” Maniaci said.

Washington Police Chief Ed Menefee said there have been no crashes involving a scooter and another motor vehicle. 

Two people have suffered injuries after falling off the scooter, according to Washington Police Department officer Mike Grissom, who also sits on the traffic committee. 

The most recent crash, Grissom said, was when the scooter user crashed into a pole late at night. 

The council’s decision comes as the city’s six-month trial period with the e-scooter company comes to a close next month. The eight-person governing body is expected to vote at next month’s council meeting on a proposed two-year agreement with Lime Scooter. 

Under the terms of this proposal, Lime Scooter would have exclusive rights to operate battery-powered scooter rentals in Washington. The company would provide 60 scooters, which would be able to be rented by individuals at least 16 years of age with a valid driver’s license. The scooters can be rented using a smartphone app.  

The scooters would still be limited to only certain areas of Washington. He said the city is also looking to establish up to five parking corrals along Front Street.

“The idea is that we let them use the scooters to explore Washington, to explore the riverfront trail, but whenever you are operating a Lime scooter on Front Street, you can’t just hop off it whenever you’re done. You’re going to have to find an actual parking station,” said Maniaci, who added that two Front Street-based businesses had each offered to host a parking corral. 

The city is also seeking to retain, under this proposal, the $200-per-month “impact fee” from Lime Scooter.

“We don’t want any manpower from the parks, streets departments diverted from their work or any funds from the city to pay for the cleanup from Lime scooters,” Maniaci said. There have been reports of people using the scooters’ wheels to vandalize some areas downtown. 

Maniaci said the city is proposing that the $200-per-month fee paid by Lime Scooter to the city be used by the city to pay a third-party company to power-wash away those tire marks when needed. 

The city would still be able to cancel the agreement but would be required to give the company 60 days written notice.