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Companies making it tougher for Omaha kids to rent scooters

September 12, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Two companies are making it harder for kids to rent their electric scooters in Omaha, following the crash of a 9-year-old boy into the side of a bus.

Spin and Lime officials said they’re now requiring people to use driver’s licenses to verify their ages before renting the battery-powered scooters. The verification will be done through the rental apps the companies provide.

The companies have been operating in Omaha as part of a pilot program approved by Mayor Jean Stothert in May. Before the change announced Wednesday, the Lime and Spin apps required riders to confirm they were at least 18 years old but allowed them to vouch for their own ages.

Alex Youn, of Lime, said his company is pleased with the Omaha program and said most people ride responsibly.

Concerns about injuries to young riders prompted Councilwoman Aimee Melton to ask the city legal department whether the city could end the program before its scheduled completion in November. She cited the boy’s accident Tuesday and that of a 16-year-old girl in May. The girl was treated at a hospital for an ankle injury. The boy was hospitalized for head injuries that officials said weren’t considered life-threatening.

Local hospitals have said more than 65 people — adults and children — have been injured riding scooters since the pilot program began, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

People took more than 148,000 scooter rides from May 13 to Aug. 20, most of which lasted less than 10 minutes, according to city data.

The city agreed to the pilot program to gauge public interest and see whether the city could handle the scooters, Stothert said Wednesday.

The city also is requiring that the companies to do a better job of highlighting local rules, including age restrictions and the prohibition on riding on sidewalks, she said.

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