The electric scooter fad sweeping Columbus is unlikely to hit Worthington any time soon, according to local leaders.
Lime, known as LimeBike until recently, is a bike-, e-bike- and e-scooter-sharing service based in California that functions through an app, which tracks the equipment through GPS.
Users can see locations of nearby bicycles and then can check in to a bike to unlock it and pay $1 for 30 minutes of use.
The company began an agreement with Worthington in June, placing 50 bikes in the city for a six-month trial period. At the same time, Lime put bikes in Columbus and Dublin and has plans for expansion in central Ohio.
Lime also added electric scooters to its fleet in Columbus over the summer. Bird, a scooter-only concept, launched around the same time.
The scooters have become popular, prompting Columbus leaders to propose legislation that would ban the scooters from sidewalks, mandate the use of helmets and specify the traffic laws that must be followed while riding the scooters. On Sept. 11, Columbus issued an emergency order banning electric scooters from riding on sidewalks and making other rules. Columbus Department of Public Service director Jennifer Gallagher issued the order as city officials wait for Columbus City Council to return from its summer recess and vote on permanent code changes.
"In Columbus, we are excited about the expanding options to navigate our great city," a press release from Mayor Andrew Ginther read. "It's our responsibility to both promote these mobility options and protect everyone sharing the road with bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters. Our proposed legislation and limited emergency rules are grounded in those goals."
But in Worthington, parks and recreation director Darren Hurley said, scooters are "not part of our agreement," which expires in November.
As such, they are unlikely to appear in the city in 2018.
"We're just taking an educational approach to it," Hurley said. "We don't know much about them. I think our big concern and question at this point is how they're regulated. It's not clear where you can and can't ride them -- I think that's what some communities seem to be struggling with."
Hurley said much more research would be required before any scooter-related decisions are made.
He said he and other city leaders are trying to understand exactly how the scooters would be regulated in Worthington. He said clarifying biking laws is difficult enough and scooters are "a whole other animal."
"I don't fully understand how what is already in the law relates to scooters," he said. "So there would definitely need to be clarification with what's already on the books and how and what applies to scooters.
"Both users and nonusers are not aware and educated on where they can be and how to interact with them."
Law director Tom Lindsey said he hasn't done enough research to know exactly what laws would govern scooters in Worthington. For instance, he said he's not sure if the same rules that apply to golf karts in Ohio -- which must be explicitly approved by a city for use on streets -- would apply to the scooters.
Like the bicycle-sharing services, any scooter company that wanted to work in Worthington would need approval from the city, Hurley said.
When Lime launched its scooters in Columbus, Hurley said, the company approached Worthington to see if it would work in the city. He said representatives from Lime talked with the bike-and-pedestrian advisory board.
Although the group thought "it might be cool," Hurley said virtually no one was "comfortable going to scooters" just yet.
"They expressed some interest on whether we'd be open to scooters," he said. "Our stance was that we spent lot of time getting community input on bikes and we didn't want to throw the scooters out when they were not a part of that process."
Kyle Bivenour, a Clintonville resident and Lime's operations manager for Columbus, declined to comment on the topic. Lime corporate spokeswoman Emma Green did not respond to requests for comment.
Hurley said he isn't ruling out a future where Lime or other electric scooters come to Worthington. But the first priority would be to assess the bike-sharing program over the winter. After that, anything is possible with the correct preparation.
"Maybe there'll become a point where scooter introduction is a good idea," Hurley said. "But we haven't crossed that threshold yet."
Rick Rouan of The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story.