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Lime yanks some scooters from service over worry they can break apart

The e-scooter rental company says it's investigating concerns that the scooters can fall apart during rides.

Scooter in SF
A Lime rider in San Francisco.
James Martin/CNET

Scooter company Lime is pulling some scooters from service worldwide because they can break apart while being ridden. The news comes a little more than a week after Lime yanked some scooters over concerns their batteries could catch fire.

"We are actively looking into reports that scooters manufactured by Okai may break and are working cooperatively with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to get to the bottom of this," Lime said in an emailed statement Saturday. "As a precaution we are immediately decommissioning all Okai scooters in the global fleet."

It isn't clear how many scooters are being removed from service. Lime said only that "the vast majority" of scooters in its fleet are made by other companies. It said the questionable scooters would be replaced by newer scooters "considered best in class for safety."

On Oct. 30, Lime said in a statement on its site that it was "possible for Okai baseboards to crack or break if ridden off a curb at high speed" and that the company was "studying this issue and incorporating these learnings into our design process."

On Saturday, The Washington Post reported on the scooters being pulled from service and said that the day before, it had asked Lime about the scooters "breaking apart under the strains of normal riding conditions." Lime told the Post it was investigating.

In an email to CNET, Charles Wu of the Grandall Law Firm in Shanghai said the firm is representing China-based Okai and that, "We are very certain that the scooters mentioned in The Washington Post's news report are not manufactured by Okai ... We are collecting more information on this."

News of the scooters being pulled follows word of an earlier issue with some Lime scooters. In the same Oct. 30 statement mentioned above, Lime said it was removing some scooters from service after discovering they could contain batteries with the potential to catch fire. Those scooters were made by a different manufacturer.

Rentable e-scooters from Lime, Lyft, Uber-owned Jump and other companies have become a controversial topic as they show up in more US cities and regulators hurry to write laws around the new form of transportation. Some people say they love being able to scoot block-to-block around congested cities. Others complain that riders endanger pedestrians by ignoring traffic laws, riding on sidewalks and leaving the scooters wherever they feel like it.

And with scooter users starting to show up in emergency rooms, critics are also concerned about rider safety. In September, a 24-year-old Dallas man died after falling off a Lime scooter. At the time, Lime said it hadn't found evidence of a scooter malfunction.

On Monday, Lime announced a campaign called Respect the Ride and said it would invest more than $3 million in rider safety and education. The initiative includes improvements to scooters; an ad campaign focused on safe riding habits, including wearing a helmet; and safety fairs and scooter lessons.

CNET's Steven Musil contributed to this report.

First published Nov. 10, 1:21 p.m. PT
Update, Nov. 13 at 7:03 a.m.: Adds statement from Okai's law firm.

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