Lime scooters not welcome in Clovis, as Fresno rolls out pilot program

While electric scooters are days away from zipping around Fresno, they won’t be welcome in Clovis anytime soon.

Lime scooters will be allowed tentatively next week in Fresno for a six-month trial period, but a number of restrictions would keep the electric scooters away from college campuses and popular shopping centers.

The Clovis City Council decided unanimously this week to be included in the scooter dead zone, and will ask the company to block the city out.

Lime has implemented scooters in cities around the world and the company has used “geo-fencing” – a way of electronically blocking the scooters from operating in or near specific locations – successfully in college towns, according to the company.

The idea is when a scooter enters the geo-fenced area, the global positioning satellites that track the devices would alert the scooter to slow from a top speed of 15 mph to 3 mph. People generally walk at the speed of 3 mph.

Lime has not reached out to the city of Clovis, staffers said.

Clovis city leaders said they wanted to send a clear message to Lime that they won’t necessarily follow the plans of Fresno’s leaders. “The city of Fresno may be happy with what happens. We may not,” Clovis Councilmember Bob Whalen said. “We have different standards sometimes than the city of Fresno.”

Popular in many larger cities, e-scooters are small stand-up motorized vehicles that generally are rented on the street through a mobile app. They’ve been met by mixed reviews from people who find them to be convenient, while others call them a public nuisance.

Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua expressed a hesitance to allow the scooters without a full assessment from Clovis city staff. He said he’d also want to hear from park and bicycle enthusiasts.

“We value our trails so how do we protect that, as well?” he said.

Track record of scooters

Concerns around electric scooters typically are related to safety for pedestrians as well as riders – who may not wear a helmet or who ride unsafely near cars. California code prohibits the scooters on sidewalks, so they have to be ridden on the street or designated bike paths.

Despite California law, some riders do use them on sidewalks.

Fresno and Clovis each had bad experiences with Bird scooters – another company that tried to roll out its services, but without notifying city leaders. Fresno issued the company a cease-and-desist letter in 2018.

Regardless of what Fresno determines in its scooter pilot program, Clovis Councilmember Jose Flores said there could be a place for them in Clovis, such as Old Town Clovis. He said he has used electric scooters before and enjoyed them.

“We have one of the best bike trail networks in the Valley,” he said. “Even though it (might) not work in Fresno, it might work in Clovis.”

Fresno has some of its own geo-fencing planned at Fashion Fair and River Park shopping centers, as well as Fresno State, Fresno City College and Fresno Pacific University.

Scooter and other shared mobility companies have been met with some opposition in other cities, like San Francisco. Some people have even been killed in crashes involving e-scooters.

Many cities banned them before reworking regulations to allow them to operate. Boston this year gave the green light for the e-scooters, and Minneapolis is allowing the fleets to expand.

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.