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Hoboken will launch an e-scooter pilot as momentum stalls in NYC

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Hoboken is the first city in the tri-state area to authorize e-scooter usage

Uber To Partner With Electric Scooter Rental Company Lime In $335 Million Deal
A Lime scooter in Los Angeles.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The e-scooter revolution has yet to make headway in New York City, but at least one city in the tri-state area will soon have the motorized micromobility method on its streets.

The city of Hoboken announced that it would roll out a six-month-long e-scooter pilot next month, with Lime and P3GM—the firm that operates the state’s bike share program—participating in the program. Lime will use its own scooters, while P3GM will partner with Ojo to bring its motorized scooters to city streets.

“Electric scooters will help residents easily travel around our city, reduce congestion on our roadways, and improve access to transit stations and business districts,” Ravi S. Bhalla, the mayor of Hoboken, said in a statement. “This is another way Hoboken is leading the way in implementing environmentally responsible transportation initiatives.”

Per the new rules, scooter riders will be required to use bike lanes in the city rather than ride on sidewalks, making clear a rule that other cities have struggled to enforce. (Not that it will necessarily stop people from taking scooters on the sidewalk.)

“Lime is thrilled that access to e-scooters is rolling forward in Hoboken,” Phil Jones, Lime’s senior director of East Coast government and strategic partnerships said in a statement. “Dock-free e-scooters are a great way for New Jersey residents to enjoy their cities and towns, and to more easily connect with mass transit, shortening commutes.”

But on the other side of the Hudson River, the e-scooter revolution has stalled: Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed allowing localities throughout New York to authorize e-scooter and e-bike usage, the measure did not make it into the final state budget. According to Gothamist, it wasn’t included in either the state Assembly or Senate’s version of the budget—a move that a spokesperson for Assembly speaker Carl Heastie said was because “it does not have a fiscal impact and could be considered outside the context of the budget.”

That may spell doom for City Council legislation aimed at legalizing those modes of transport. A law passed by the City Council in 2004 bans all forms of motorized scooters and imposes a $500 fine on those caught using them. (That hasn’t stopped some folks from taking Bird scooters out in the city.) But last year, Council members Rafael Espinal and Ydanis Rodriguez introduced a package of bills that would legalize both scooters and throttle e-bikes—pedal-assist ones are already allowed—and implement a scooter pilot program in the city.

“Hoboken’s newly-announced e-scooter pilot is yet another clear indication that e-scooters and e-bikes aren’t just a passing fad: they are pointing the way toward a better, more equitable transit future,” Espinal said in a statement to Curbed. “Study after study shows that they are popular with low-income populations, and help connect people to transit hubs that might otherwise be too far away. I am committed to bringing these revolutionary vehicles to New York, starting with a pilot program that targets neighborhoods with low access to public transit. We can’t pass up this opportunity to make our transit landscape safer, greener, and more equitable.”

Lime, which has been lobbying to bring scooters to NYC (along with Bird, another company that operates the dockless transit option), says that if e-scooters were legalized, an additional 1.5 million New Yorkers would have better access to nearby modes of transit—scooters could put them within 10 minutes of subways, docked bike-share stations, or other options.