More rentable scooters and e-bikes are coming to Baltimore.

Lime, the company behind green and white scooters that once zipped all over downtown, will once again deploy dockless vehicles on city streets, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation said Thursday.

The burnt orange Spin scooters will continue to be available as the transportation department is renewing their permit for another year. Lime’s permit begins July 1. The company, which lost its position in the Baltimore market a couple years ago because of permit violations, said it will deploy a fleet of 1,500 scooters and 500 e-bikes in Baltimore on Monday. Vehicles accessible to people who use wheelchairs or have limited mobility will also be available on demand, a company spokesperson said.

Rentable dockless vehicles like scooters and e-bikes have become increasingly utilized in Baltimore both for fun rides around the Inner Harbor and for commuting. The announcement means the transportation department’s dockless vehicle program will once again be whole after one of its partners suddenly shut down operations at the end of last year and took half of the city’s scooters and e-bikes offline.

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Two orange Spin scooters are parked in front of a colorful, linear gradient Visit Baltimore poster that has a poem by Kondwani Fidel on it.
Two Spin scooters are parked in front of a Visit Baltimore poster in Inner Harbor on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

“We are committed to providing equitable and accessible transportation options for the residents of Baltimore, and shared mobility has become just one of the integral parts of our broader transportation system,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott in an emailed release.

A transportation department equity program, which requires dockless vehicle providers to offer reduced-rate plans and deploy vehicles into specific zones with limited transportation access, has helped better connect some city residents to work, grocery stores and more.

Some view the scooters as a nuisance, though, saying people too often ride them where they shouldn’t or improperly park them in front of sidewalk ramps, blocking access for people in wheelchairs.

More than 1.3 million trips were taken on dockless vehicles in 2023, according to the city transportation department. About 110,000 — roughly a quarter of the ridership on an average month for the light rail or metro lines — were taken in May.

“This newest round of dockless vehicle permits will help to close first-and-last mile gaps to transit for Baltimoreans,” said Corren Johnson, the transportation department’s director.

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Rentable e-scooters started proliferating in the U.S. in the late 2010s as a “first-and-last mile solution” — promoting transit use by making the gap between a person’s doorstep and a train or bus station faster to traverse. The global scooter market has been a trendy but volatile one, with companies burning through venture capital, expanding and going under in quick succession. Lime may have bucked the trend though, claiming to be the first such company to be profitable back in 2022.

A line of orange Spin scooters divides the frame in half, with a man waiting for a green light on a bike on the left and a woman walking on the right.
Spin scooters are lined up in Inner Harbor on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Lime was previously squeezed out of Baltimore when the city declined to renew its permit in 2022, consolidating its dockless vehicle program from three companies to two. Lime was the odd company out in part because it had dinged too many violations against its agreement with the city.

Companies agree to a laundry list of regulations and pay the transportation department for the right to operate on city streets. Permit violations can look like not maintaining vehicles properly or not deploying them in equity zones, among other things.

In an emailed release, Lime said its pitch to Baltimore for coming back included a plan for how to “come back even better than before.”

“Lime is ready to hit the ground from day one with a focus on safe riding, proper parking, and building relationships with the Baltimore community in order to ensure the best possible experience for riders and non-riders alike,” the release said.

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The company claims it accounted for more rides than any other while it was previously in Baltimore.

Baltimore was down to just one dockless vehicle provider after Superpedestrian, the company behind the highlighter-yellow Link scooters, suddenly shut down its entire U.S. operation at the end of last year. The company gave employees two weeks to pack up as many scooters as they could and prepare them for auction. Some were left behind and still litter city streets.

A snow-covered electric scooter in Charles Village on Jan. 16, 2024. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)