12/29 Letters: A word from Lime scooters

Electric scooters in Raleigh and Charlotte’ are growing in popularity.
Electric scooters in Raleigh and Charlotte’ are growing in popularity. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Tough on scooters

Thanks to visionary leadership and forward-thinking individuals, global firms have repeatedly chosen to invest in Raleigh and across the region. Those same leaders would be baffled by the Raleigh City Council’s approach to innovative new transportation options. Companies like Lime offer ubiquitous, carbon-neutral transportation at affordable prices. But instead of embracing this subsidy-free solution, the City Council seems bent on suffocating it.

First, a majority of council members classified our stand-up scooters in the same way as mopeds, obligating us to seek titling and registration at the DMV. Our stand-up electric scooters are slower and take up less space. The GA surely never had our scooters in mind when they crafted regulations for traditional mopeds.

The council instituted one of the highest permit fees in the nation — a cost that we cannot help but pass on to our riders. Councilman Dickie Thompson almost single-handedly tripled the fees that our riders will pay. The hundreds of thousands of members of the Raleigh community who have depended on scooters to plug the gaps in public transportation or get to work at a low cost are not a “problem” at all.

Finally, council has compelled us to purchase a level of insurance that far exceeds any comparable city, a cost burden that ultimately our riders will bear.

Since launching this summer, Lime riders have completed hundreds of thousands of trips, without requiring investment of tax dollars like the still-missing bike share. One might be tempted to assume that our ridership skews towards young people, but our data show strong ridership during commuting hours. The council is making it more expensive for commuters to get to work.

The City Council can correct this mistake by amending the terms of its agreement to embrace affordable, ubiquitous transportation options for all members of the Raleigh community. We urge them to do so at their first meeting of the year.

Todd O’Boyle, Director of Lime Strategic Development


Advancing technologies

In 1964, I worked at the Willow Run Laboratories on a contract from the Department of Defense. At that time, we were improving air-borne infra-red sensors to detect enemies under dense jungle canopy. By now, sensor technology has probably improved so much that you could tell if the enemy had shaved that morning. Coupled with sophisticated drone technology or technologies that I do not even know about, we should easily be able to monitor the entire U.S. border with Mexico at a fairly reasonable cost. We may need to add more border guards to respond to the sensor detections and we clearly need many more judges to process amnesty requests. But we certainly do not need to spend billions of dollars on a wall. Why are we not seeing alternative, practical, contemporary and effective methods for the important task of securing our southern border? It’s really not that complicated.

Larry W. Tombaugh


All of the Americas

As two Guatemalan families mourn the loss of their children in U.S. custody, it occurs to me that we will never “Make America Great Again” unless we make the Americas great. We in the U.S. would not be so divided over “border security,” if our southern neighbors had the economic strength to attack their own political and societal troubles. I believe the U.S. has the ability to help. But we need our brains and resolve, not hysteria.

With troops and expenditures soon to be pulled from Afghanistan and Syria, let’s turn our attention to these Americas. Instead of all the negative energy spent keeping them out, let’s join with them. Use our powerful public and private resources to strengthen and improve their way of living. Invest in their well being, their infrastructure, education, medical needs, factories.

It’s much easier and more humane to decrease the incentive to come here.

Linda Sutton


Profitable enterprise

Ted Van Dyk’s op-ed on expanding the region’s rail service covers virtually all the bases except the most important one: can it operate as a profitable enterprise. Amtrak receives about $2 billion annually in subsidies. Apparently, he has forgotten the history of the automobile and how it helped to develop the rural community and small towns. Moreover, what do we do when we exit the trains? Walk to our final destination or get in an automobile?

If a rail system can operate at a profit, some entrepreneur will get it done.

Bob Fuller