There’s little evidence the scooter startups seem daunted by the prospect of rolling out in Chicago, where the January mean temperature hovers in the low twenties, to say nothing of the heavy snow or the winds that blow off Lake Michigan. Last month, the Chicago Reader reported that LimeBike (the dockless cycle arm of Lime) was already rolling out on the city’s South Side, and that Bird was lobbying for city legislation to allow dockless scooters to be ridden on sidewalks and bikeways.
A spokesperson for Lime also confirmed for Inverse that they’d debuted electric scooters within the city at a pop-up that took place during the Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk last weekend on July 21–22. Bird did not confirm or deny its plans to debut dockless scooters in Chicago.
Bird currently operates in 17 markets, but over half of those are consolidated in California, Arizona and Texas — a far cry from Chicago’s Lake Effect Snow-filled winters and damp, cold springs. Two of these markets are in the Midwest — Milwaukee and Indianapolis — but only as recently as mid-June. A spokesperson from Lime told Inverse that LimeBike ridership continued throughout the winter, even in cities where temperatures dropped below freezing.
“All Lime products (scooters, bikes, and electric bikes) are built to withstand the toughest weather conditions, including snow and rain,” the spokesperson added. “We don’t see it being an issue.”
Dealing with Midwestern politicians may pose and even greater challenge. Since their mid-June launches, both Indianapolis and Milwaukee have filed a cease-and-desist order against Bird for their guerrilla rollout of the scooters, with Milwaukee instituting a $100 fine against people who ride them at all. Even the rollout in Bird’s own hometown of Santa Monica has been litigious, the company settled a nine-count misdemeanor case against them to the tune of $300,000 in fees for failing to obtain the proper permits, and for ignoring citations.