We take the Lime ride-share electric scooters for a spin on the San Jose streets
Everywhere you look here in San Jose you will see plenty of electric scooters parked on the sidewalk. They are available to anyone who wants to ride them to their next meeting or just for fun instead of catching a taxi or calling an Uber
But, unlike the shared bicycles littering Australian streets, these electric scooters – from companies Lime and Bird – are collected every night and recharged before being deployed to the San Jose streets bright and early at 6am for the commuter crowd.
We’ve seen the scooters in use during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, with attendees using them to get to and from the McEnery Convention Centre.
Tech Guide decided to give the electric scooters a try on the streets of San Jose.
We chose the Lime scooters (the Bird scooters were very similar) and downloaded the Lime app to our phone.
From the app, users are presented with a map showing the locations of all available scooters.
If you tap on the nearest scooter, you will see directions to make your way and pick it up.
Riders can also find out how much charge is left on that scooter and the remaining ride range.
Once you spot the scooter you click on the Ride button at the bottom of the map and scan the QR code on the scooter with your phone to unlock it.
The app also includes instructions on how to ride the scooter but it’s pretty simple.
Once you’re ready to go, you just push off and start rolling and push down on the throttle button to keep moving.
There is a digital speedometer on the handlebars as well as a brake, of course.
The Lime scooters can hit speeds of up to 28km/h (17.4mph) and offer a smooth stable ride to get you where you need to go.
There’s also a GPS tracker onboard so the scooters can be tracked at all times.
And they are cheap to ride.
It cost you $1 to unlock the bike and then 15 cents for every minute you ride.
For our ride, we travelled 1.3 km in 16 minutes and the cost was $US2.40.
And when you’re done riding, you simply leave them in a clear, safe place on the sidewalk so the next rider can find it.
We left the scooter near our hotel on its stand against the wall so no one would trip over it.
Within the app, you can see how much money is left in your wallet – we paid $US10 into our account to get started – as well as seeing your ride history complete with a map of each journey.
This is a handy service by start-up companies trying to get a slice of the pie Uber and Lyft are feasting on.
And it’s no surprise the service is proving popular here in Silicon Valley.