Lime is pulling its shared electric scooters from 20 countries and 21 states, including California, as the number of COVID-19 cases spread across the world.
Scooters will be pulled from California, Texas, New York and other U.S. states, as well as from most of Europe, including France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom.
In a statement Wednesday, Chief Executive and founder Brad Bao said that Lime will “begin winding down and pausing our service to reflect public health guidance.”
“Like you, we are worried about the cities we love and call home, the people we serve, and our colleagues on the ground,” Bao said. “Loving cities means protecting them too. For now, we’re pausing Lime service to help people stay put and stay safe.”
The company is the first major scooter provider to halt service in California.
The timing reflects the rapidly changing response to coronavirus in the United States. Two days ago, when Lime scooters were still available in every U.S. market, the company’s head of global safety told riders to consider wearing gloves and to wash their hands before and after riding.
The timing of the pandemic could pose major revenue problems for scooter companies, which see business contract in the winter and expand again when the weather gets nicer.
Lime said “all parts of the scooter that are touched by people” are being cleaned. Mechanics and field operators are required to wear gloves, the company said, and hand sanitizer is being distributed to workers in warehouses.
As of Wednesday morning, Lime was still operating in Denver, Miami, Tampa and Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C., but “will continue to adjust our operations as appropriate,” Bao said.
Most private systems and several publicly owned bike-share services are still operating, including L.A. Metro’s bike share, Metro Bike, and Santa Monica’s Breeze system.
For the next month, Breeze is waiving all fees for rides up to 90 minutes. The discount is available to prepaid monthly pass holders and pay-as-you-go users, according to the program’s Twitter account.
The decision by the city-owned service was made to “ensure the availability of reliable transportation options through this uncertain time for essential trips outside the home,” a Breeze representative said.
Before and after riding a scooter, every scooter provider said, follow the advice of public health officials and wash your hands.