Oh wise one, why have I not seen any Lime Scooters in the downtown area? Is this COVID-19 pandemic to blame? -- J.S.
J.S., it seems like COVID-19 gets the blame for everything these days, and it frequently deserves it.
Such is the case for the lack of those green scooters on city streets, as well as the general lack of downtown activity and commuter traffic.
The rental scooters, as well as the city’s bike share program, have been on hold until city officials determined whether they are safe to hit the streets without increasing the spread of the virus.
Last month, the Post Bulletin reported Olmsted County Public Health Director Graham Briggs said the risks are expected to decrease as warmer summer days approach.
"Based on our understanding of other viruses and some preliminary information from the Department of Homeland Security, it is likely that COVID-19 naturally degrades more quickly with higher temperatures, humidity and sunlight," he said.
"While there is a good chance risk that transmission for COVID-19 through shared outdoor equipment like bicycles would decrease during the warm summer months, we would still recommend routine disinfection between users."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also pointed toward reduced risk in using the shared devices this week, reporting the possibility of transmitting coronavirus through shared surface contact is lower than through person-to-person contact.
That means masks and maintaining safe distances will likely have a bigger impact in preventing the spread of the virus than keeping scooters and bikes off the street.
Still, city staff have been consistent in using caution and not rushing into things, which has been seen by the slow opening of golf courses and the recent opening of playgrounds with warnings to parents, regarding the lack of sanitation of equipment.
When they rollout, the scooters and bikes will likely come with their own “use at your own risk” warnings.
I asked my City Hall minion to see whether a timeline for the emergence of shared scooters and bikes has been established.
He was told the situation remains under study as city officials determine when, or if, the devices will be ready to roll this summer.
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