Difference of definition: the heart of the argument in Reno's Lime scooter saga

FILE: A LimeBike e-scooter in operation, as seen in this file photo.

It's been a little more than 24 hours since the surprise arrival of Lime e-scooters in the Biggest Little City, and they rolled in with plenty of controversy in tow.

The City of Reno sent a 'cease and desist' letter to local Lime representatives Tuesday saying, in part, that the launch was "premature... disingenuous and irresponsible," and poses a safety risk to the community.

City officials said in a statement Tuesday that Lime's e-scooters classify as 'mopeds' under Nevada law, and that any usage must comply with the state's according motor vehicle statutes.

RELATED | City of Reno's full statement: "stunned and disappointed" at the roll out of Lime e-scooters

The City of Reno wanted to carefully review these statutes prior to the official launch of e-scooters in the Reno area, according to a statement.

Representatives from Lime told News 4-Fox 11 on Wednesday morning that the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and Nevada Highway Patrol both consulted on e-scooter operations and have a different take on the issue.

Both entities classify Lime scooters as 'electric bicycles' by NRS definition.

This DMV representative said the e-scooters are given this classification because of their speed and design, and -- though user must comply with rules of the road for bicycles and pedestrians -- they are not intended to operate like motor vehicles.

The following is an excerpt from the email provided to News 4-Fox 11 from the DMV.

An electric bicycle must follow all of the bicycle and pedestrian laws in Nevada. Meaning, they are not technically allowed to operate on the roadway like a vehicle. They can operate on the sidewalk, and bicycle lanes, where applicable. If a sidewalk and/or bicycle lane is unavailable, which forces the electric bicycle into the roadway, the rider must obey all traffic laws until such time as a sidewalk and/or bicycle lane becomes available. Electric bicycles do not require registration or a driver’s license, however, the Nevada Highway Patrol strongly encourages the rider to be at least 16 and possess a driver’s license.

A spokesman with the Nevada Highway Patrol said NHP also considers the scooters to be 'electric bicycles' and that they will be enforced as such.

According to NRS 484b, electric bicycles are not allowed to operate on the roads like a vehicle. If a sidewalk or bike lane is not available, riders can go on the streets and obey traffic laws. Riders must move back to a sidewalk or bike lane once one becomes available again.

City of Reno spokesman, Jon Humbert, told News 4-Fox 11 in an interview Wednesday that the City disagrees with the 'electric bicycle' classification. "We believe that these scooters are considered mopeds and because of that they have to follow the rules of mopeds," Humbert said.

Humbert continued to say that the City is interested in working out a solution.

"We do want to have these items and vehicles out there, but we have to do that right," Humbert said. "I think now we have that opportunity to iron all this stuff out, get on the same page, and we're really confident that we can do that."

A representative with Lime also expressed a willingness to work with the City. Here is Lime's statement:

Lime is hoping to shed light on next steps in the next day or so and we're working toward a resolution.

Lime addressed that there will be lifting the geofence at UNR as well as the "no parking" alert since they are complying with the city of Reno's request for no scooters.

Lime told News 4-Fox 11 Wednesday morning that the list of supporters of the scooter program includes several midtown business owners, a UNR faculty member, and UNR student:

  • Mark Trujillo, Hub Coffee
  • Matt Deacon, Dutch Bros Coffee
  • Rich Seldon, Cafe DeLuxe
  • UNR Professor Todd Felts
  • Gino Scala, Great Full Gardens
  • Tim Healion, Laughing Planet
  • David Lorenz, Michael & Son's Jewelry
  • Taylor Little, UNR PreMed student and regional paramedic student

While the scooters were out for a brief period of time, the community appeared to thoroughly enjoy the new transportation. Some took to Twitter:

Others have expressed disbelief in the City's actions:

The Lime's contract is being reviewed at Wednesday's city council meeting.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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