Thanks to the rapid expansion of Bird and Lime, you can find electric scooters on the sidewalk in scores of cities across America. Right as the scooter craze is settling in and cities are beginning to regulate the service, Lyft has stepped in with a scooter program of its own.
Lyft Scooter is Lyft’s attempt to break into the smartphone-enabled scooter craze, and so far it looks to be nearly identical to Bird and Lime: Point your smartphone at a barcode on the scooter, and you’re off. $1 to unlock the scooter, $0.15 for every minute of use.
So how does Lyft Scooter stack up to Bird and Lime, and why might you use Lyft Scooter instead of Bird and Lime? I rented a Lyft Scooter in Santa Monica California and found that if Lyft can put scooters on the streets in more cities, it might be able to easily tap into its massive existing customer base and give Bird and Lime a run for their money.
What is Lyft Scooter?
Lyft Scooter is an on-demand electronic scooter service that allows Lyft users to rent electric scooters that are placed at public locations around the city. To rent a scooter, open the Lyft app and tap the scooter icon to locate nearby scooters, then approach the scooter and scan the barcode on the handlebars to begin the rental.
How much does Lyft Scooter cost?
Lyft Scooters cost $1 to unlock and $0.15 per minute.
The maximum rental time for a Lyft Scooter is 12 hours. There is a $25 fee if you hold the scooter longer than 12 hours, and a $600 fee if you lose or steal the scooter.
Lyft scooter promo code ‘LYFTRSD‘ will give you a discount on your first ride! I may receive a bonus if you use my code to sign up.
Where are Lyft Scooters available?
- Santa Monica, California
- Denver, Colorado
Lyft is planning to launch Lyft Scooter in many more cities in 2018 and 2019. To see if Lyft Scooter is available in your city, open the Lyft app and look for the scooter icon on the home screen of the app.
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Lyft Scooter user requirements and rules
- You must be 18 years or older with a valid driver’s license
- You must begin and end your ride in the designated service area outlined in the Lyft app. There is a fee if you end the ride outside of the service area
- Service hours: The scooters only operate during service hours. In Santa Monica service hours are 6am – 8pm
- Follow traffic laws: In Santa Monica, that means you can’t ride on the sidewalk, you must use a helmet, and you must follow laws that apply to cars and bikes
- Don’t ride with a second rider on the scooter
- When you drop off the scooter, don’t block sidewalks or driveways
- There is a $100 pick-up fee if you leave the scooter in an unreachable area such as behind a locked gate or on inaccessible private property
- See the full list of rules on the Lyft Scooter terms of service
How to use a Lyft Scooter
Lyft Scooters are easy to use. There are essentially only 4 steps to ride a Lyft Scooter:
- Find a scooter inside the service area
- Scan the scooter barcode to activate it
- Ride! Brake on the left, throttle on the right
- Park the scooter in a safe area and end the ride
1. Find a Lyft scooter inside the service area
Start by toggling the Scooter mode, a button on the home screen of the Lyft app. The map will then display any nearby scooters and enable features that can only be used in the scooter mode of the app.
Lyft only allows scooters to be picked up and dropped off within a service area that is outlined inside the Lyft app. You can leave the service area, but you must return to the service area to drop off the scooter.
2. Scan the scooter barcode to activate the scooter
Any scooter that shows up on the map of the Lyft app is available to use. Walk up to the scooter and tap the Scan button inside the Lyft app. Scan your driver’s license bar code to confirm you’re 18. Then point your phone camera at the QR code on the handlebars of the scooter. When you’re ready to start riding, tap the Begin Ride button.
3. Riding a Lyft scooter
Lyft scooters are similar to other modern electric scooters Bird and Lime. They are simple to operate and don’t have many features; Only a throttle, brake, and kickstand.
- Point the scooter in a safe direction
- Kick start twice to get the scooter moving, then press the throttle on the right handlebar to speed up
- Squeeze the brake on the left to slow down
Lyft uses similar scooters and Bird and Lime. The top speed is around 15 mph and the range is up to 15 miles.
4. Park the scooter and end the ride
When your ride is over, find a good public location to park the scooter, then kick down the kick stand. Don’t block sidewalks, ramps, or driveways with the scooter. Most users place them near bike racks, near trees, or lampposts that are away from the main flow of a sidewalk. Never park the scooter on private property.
After you park the scooter, tap End Ride in the Lyft app. You may also be instructed to take a photo of the scooter to show Lyft the condition and location of the scooter when you left it.
Lyft provides free helmets for scooter users – So far
Lyft recommends that all scooters riders wear a helmet, and in some areas wearing a helmet is required by law. In Los Angeles and Denver, you can pick up a free helmet from Lyft at special Lyft Hub locations. Keep an eye on Lyft.com to see if they provide free helmets in new markets, or if they continue to provide free helmets in existing markets.
Lyft Scooter vs. Bird vs. Lime
Lyft is not the first major company to release smartphone-enabled electric scooters. Bird and Lime are the biggest names in the electric scooter industry, both are backed by millions in venture capital funding, and each has a big head start over Lyft in the scooter market. Here’s how they compare.
|Cost||$1 to unlock, $0.15 per minute||$1 to unlock, $0.15 - $0.20 per minute||$1 to unlock, $0.15 - $0.20 per minute|
|Minimum Age||18 with driver's license||18 with driver's license||18 with driver's license|
|Availability||Santa Monica CA and Denver CO||21 states. Bird locations||27 states. Lime locations|
|Max Rental Time||12 hours||24 hours||24 hours|
|Who Charges the Scooters?||Lyft employees||Independent contractors||Independent contractors|
Is Lyft scooter better than Bird or Lime? Is there any real difference?
Lyft, Bird, and Lime all offer a nearly identical service. The cost is the same, the scooters are the same, and the apps all function in essentially the same way. So why might you use one service over the other? For most users, the choice will come down to availability. The winner will be the scooter that is closest.
One advantage Lyft has over the other scooter services is that millions of people already use Lyft, so existing Lyft users won’t have to download an extra app to get started. When I used a Lyft scooter, I didn’t have to create a new account and enter payment info. All I did was tap a few buttons and I was on my way. If Lyft expands the scooter service to more areas of my city, I’ll have less reason to use Bird or Lime because I’m mostly in the habit of using the Lyft app.
Lyft scooter that some users might like is that they use employees to charge the scooters rather than independent contractors. On-demand services catch a lot of criticism for inappropriately classifying workers independent contractors, so by using actual employees, Lyft might avoid some criticism it has received in the past. Some people might be comforted to know that lyft scooter chargers receive all the protections and benefits that a full-fledged employee is entitled to.