Charlotte says it didn't approve Lime scooter program. Will officials shut it down?

Charlotte says it didn't approve Lime scooter program. Will officials shut it down?
Lime is bringing electric scooters to Charlotte, starting Tuesday. (LimeBike)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Steve Harrison/The Charlotte Observer) - A new ride-share scooter program launched Tuesday could be on hold.

The city of Charlotte said Wednesday that Lime's new electric scooter ride-share program "has not been approved by the city at this time."

But it's unclear whether the city will move to shut down the scooter service, which Lime — formerly LimeBike — started Tuesday. The start-up company held a scooter demonstration at the Bland Street light-rail station.

Lime and three other companies — Spin, MoBike and Ofo — are part of a pilot program launched by the city in November. The companies are each allowed 500 bicycles, which can be parked on sidewalks and other parts of the city right-of-way. They are mostly found in uptown and South End.

The number of rides on the bikes has increased each month, and the companies have said that Charlotte is one of their better markets. Lime said Charlotte is the third city on the East Coast to receive the scooters, after Washington D.C. and Miami. It has also launched the scooters in San Diego, Austin, San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles.

The electric scooters cost $1 to unlock plus 15 cents per minute and are unlocked with a cellphone app. That's more expensive than the regular price of dockless bikes, which is $1 for 30 minutes. The bikes and scooters can be left anywhere.

In a statement, the city said "creating a high-energy, hyper-connected, safe community is a core component of the city's vision. We are excited about the possibility of expanding our bike share program, and we have been in discussions with shared electric scooter programs."

But the city said it's "communicating with scooter-sharing companies to evaluate options and establish safety guidelines." The city did not say Wednesday morning whether the scooter-sharing would continue.

Lime couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.