Put it back where you found it.

A new electric scooter rental company is applying the simple doctrine that ruled wandering Legos and abandoned backpacks to a growing transportation industry. By offering round-trip rentals only, Lama Mobility of Key West stands out from scooter sharing companies in other cities.

You’ve seen them, the Bird and Lime stand-up scooters. They are in nearly 200 towns and college towns. Rented with a phone app, they are dropped off where the cyclist leaves them, then picked up at night to be recharged. But the floating economic model is facing increasingly harsh criticism. In many cities, discarded scooters clutter sidewalks, parks and businesses, while pedestrians complain that scooters take up too much sidewalk space.

“Floating scooters, like birds and limes, are left everywhere; it’s like the Wild West with no rules,” said Key West hotelier Marc Meisel, who instead developed Lama Mobility as a round-trip rental platform. “Key West is the first location for the round-trip rental model as a proof-of-concept test, but we have plans to expand nationwide.”

Lama-branded electric scooters are now available for hire at all three Meisel family hotels in the Old Town — Santa Maria Suites, Hotel of the South Winds and H2O suites.

Lama Mobility electric scooters are rented via a phone application from a hotel charging station and returned to the same terminal after an hour, a few hours or a whole day. LAMA MOBILITY/Contributed

Last year, Key West city officials put in place a year-long moratorium on new RV rental companies as they conduct a traffic study and draft bylaws to govern the proliferation electric scooters, electric bicycles and other vehicles. There is no moratorium on the retail sale and personal use of e-scooters and e-bikes, and a growing number of Key West residents have purchased them. But for now, Lama Mobility is the only company authorized to rent the electric scooters, Meisel said.

“As the city was writing its ordinance for these recreational rental vehicles, it put a moratorium on them to give itself time. But I got my approvals before the moratorium started,” Meisel told Keys Weekly last week. .

While some city officials have called Lama Mobility a pilot project for round-trip electric scooter rentals, Meisel said, “It’s not really a pilot program. I work with the city and share data regarding usage and locations. I don’t have the right to extend it beyond our initial three hotel locations, but the city can’t cancel or remove it.

Rentals are $8.50 an hour or $35 for the whole day, Meisel said. An electronic locking mechanism allows a user to stop and park the scooter on a bike rack while having lunch or running errands without fear of it being picked up and used by another rider, as is the case with the floating business model.

A telephone application allows you to lock the rented scooter. LAMA MOBILITY/Contributed

“Traditional dockless ridesharing programs operate on a first-come, first-served basis and do not allow the driver to pause the ride or reserve the scooter when not riding,” states the Lama Mobility website. “Hotel and marina guests and cruise ship passengers want to explore their surroundings, often stopping throughout the day to stop for a meal, shop, sightsee or visit an attraction. They must be able to ensure that their transport is not subject to someone else taking the scooter when they stop to enjoy their surroundings. Lama Mobility provides this while organizing scooters instead of cluttering sidewalks with abandoned scooters.

Lama Mobility customers are asked to park scooters on bike racks, not on sidewalks, and not to ride on city center sidewalks.

Meisel acknowledged the concerns and criticism faced by hover scooter rental companies in hundreds of cities.

“I know there has been some resistance to these types of e-scooter programs due to their perceived dangers,” he said. “However, I cannot stress enough that due to the security measures we have taken, unlike a floating program (like Bird and Lime), we require age verification, helmets and training safety and education throughout the experience via docking stations and the mobile phone app.This type of persistent education will help keep cyclists safe and keep them from riding on sidewalks. »

Lama scooters travel up to 34 miles on a single charge, so riders can use them all day and then return them to the hotel charging station where they started. The maximum speed of the scooters is 15.5 mph and geolocation technology prevents them from crossing the Cow Key Bridge. Helmets are compulsory and provided at the hotel reception.

The Lama Mobility phone app requires the user to upload a photo of their ID to show they are at least 18 years old. He must enter a credit card number and watch a security video before his ride can begin, Meisel said.

“Lama Mobility is a very exciting project for me,” he said, adding that the company’s name is a combination of his two children’s first names. “I hope I can do my part to help provide alternative transportation in Key West that reduces cars on the road and parking congestion while promoting an eco-friendly and fun way for tourists to explore our island.”

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