Lime knows when you're riding on a sidewalk, and will warn you if you do

The scooter company says its new tech can determine with up to 95% accuracy the type of road you're riding on.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

To avoid cars, some scooter riders take to the sidewalks. But many pedestrians say that makes sidewalks dangerous.

James Martin/CNET

Not all electric scooter riders follow the rules of the road. Those rules include obeying traffic signals, signaling, and not riding on sidewalks where the motorized vehicles can endanger pedestrians. 

Lime said Tuesday that it's launched a new initiative aimed at stopping such sidewalk riding. The scooter company calls it a "first-of-its kind technology" that can detect when someone is cruising along pedestrian corridors. Using artificial intelligence, an accelerometer and speed data on each ride, Lime said it can determine with up to 95% accuracy the type of road a person may be scooting on. 

If the company determines the rider is on a sidewalk 50% or more of the time, it'll send them a push notification saying to abide by the law.

"Lime has been working on sidewalk riding detection since hearing concerns from some city and community partners," EV Ellington, the company's Northern California general manager, said in a statement. "We believe we may have finally cracked the code on this issue and developed a technology that is effective, safe and scalable."

Electric scooters go up to 15 miles per hour, and city officials around the world have complained the vehicles endanger pedestrians when used on sidewalks. One woman in Barcelona was killed after a scooter collided with her on a sidewalk. And there have been hundreds of other accounts of people being injured in such accidents. Regulators in Denver originally allowed scooter riding on sidewalks, but revised the law in August to ban such activity because of the danger to pedestrians.

Lime is launching its sidewalk detection tech as a pilot in San Jose, California. As part of the program, the scooter company will share the data it collects with the city to highlight zones that tend to have high sidewalk riding. Lime said this can help cities better address infrastructure needs.


What riders will see in Lime's app if they ride on sidewalks 50% or more of their trip.


"It's great to see Lime answering our call to action," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. This initiative "pushes the entire industry to make it safer for scooters and pedestrians to equitably share our streets."

Lime scooters come affixed with a sticker that warns riders not to go on sidewalks. But on busy streets, some scooter riders opt for the sidewalk rather than share the road with cars. 

Another goal of Lime's sidewalk detection tech is to give riders more information about their scooting habits. At the end of each trip, riders will get a summary showing where their sidewalk riding likely occurred. This could then help them avoid busy streets on future rides.

Watch this: Electric scooters are sending scores of people to the hospital