- Lime announced in a safety update that it recently detected a firmware bug that, “under rare circumstances,” was causing scooters to brake suddenly. A series of software updates have been made across Lime's scooter fleet, which the company says has "resulted in a material reduction of occurrence."
- The issue mainly arose when scooters were riding downhill at top speed and hit an obstacle, such as a pothole or another barrier. Lime said the problem has only affected 0.0045% of all rides, but “some riders have been injured, and, although most have been bumps and bruises, any injury is one too many.”
- As the final firmware update is rolled out, Lime recommends that riders test the scooter brakes before hopping on, and use “extra caution in the next few days,” especially when riding downhill.
This is not the first time Lime has addressed safety issues around its scooter fleet. Last fall, The Washington Post reported that some scooters fell apart during use, causing rider injuries. Lime also recalled some of its vehicles in November in response to concerns that some batteries could catch fire.
In response to a number of reported injuries in New Zealand related to this new braking bug, Lime director of government affairs and strategy Mitchell Price wrote an op-ed in the New Zealand Herald noting, “Our teams have been working around the clock to rigorously assess our fleet while working to pinpoint the cause of this issue and rectify it swiftly."
These equipment flaws are on top of increasing scrutiny of injuries sustained by riding scooters. A Consumer Reports investigation linked 1,545 injuries across the country to scooters, many of them involving riders not wearing a helmet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also doing the first epidemiological study on dockless scooters' health risk in Austin, TX, which will bring new data and attention to the safety concerns around scooters.
After initially dropping their vehicles on unsuspecting cities to create a market, some scooter companies are now finding themselves subject to regulations and permitting requirements. Although the companies themselves have promoted safe practices and urged consumers to make sure their equipment is operable, these troubles with vehicles could invite more attention from regulators.