AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a busy day at Skip Scooter’s newest Austin headquarters. Employees work quickly to get their inventory out the door and on the road for the first day of the launch.
Five-hundred Skip scooters are being deployed in Austin beginning Monday and continuing until Friday.
While Skip can line the streets of Austin with its blue fleet, a city on the east coast has pulled them off the roads.
Washington, D.C.’s transportation department suspended Skip’s permit for 30 days after a fire broke out in the company’s warehouse last week. It’s reported to have been sparked in a bin of the scooter’s lithium batteries.
Last year, D.C. outlets also reported a Skip scooter caused a warehouse fire. And, last month, a picture went viral of a scooter on fire in the greater D.C. area.
A spokesperson for the City of Austin’s transportation department said officials were made aware of reported issues with Skip scooters on Monday. They are working with the company to make sure the scooters are safe for Austin city streets.
“We are aware of the issue and remain engaged with the operator to make sure that the shared micromobility devices that are deployed in Austin are safe for the public to use in our right of way.”City of Austin Transportation Department
The Austin Fire Department is also working with the city to develop recommendations and requirements for safely storing and charging scooters.
A spokesperson for Skip said the recent warehouse fire was an isolated incident and is unrelated to their scooters out in the field.
“We’ve watched with enthusiasm as Austin has encouraged micromobility options that transform how people get around their streets. Skip is excited to support these efforts by expanding access to new mobility options for Austinites and visitors.”Spokesperson, Skip Scooters
Austinites KXAN spoke to said they love to ride all kinds of scooters, but they want to be sure what’s being offered is safe.
“I’ve come across a lot of defective ones. Brakes aren’t working, they are a little rattled, and anyone can still open them up and ride them,” said Scott Phillips, who lives in Austin.
“It’s up to me if I choose this transportation, so if something bad did happen, that would be pretty scary because I don’t know who I would call or what would happen,” said Marilyn Greer, who spent several years in Austin but now lives in Los Angeles.
“Any time you are not on your own two feet, you need to be careful and be aware. So whether that is a scooter, car or bicycle, you have to pay attention and be as safe as possible,” said Kristi Barron, who lives in Austin.
One of Skip’s competitors has also faced similar problems.
Last year, Lime pulled its scooters off the street after discovering a number of them had been carrying batteries that could catch fire. Lime confirmed some of their scooters manufactured by Segway Ninebot contained defects in the batteries. Those scooters were removed from streets in L.A., San Diego and Lake Tahoe.
The company said it represented less than point-zero-one percent of their entire fleet.
Lime is one of the biggest operators in Austin. It has 5,000 scooter permits.