Officially, the City of Hoboken’s bumpy scooter ride officially came to an end exactly one year ago, as Lime’s pilot scooter rideshare program expired on November 20, 2019. It was not renewed.
A year later, however, a new breed of scooter is roaming the streets of Hoboken, hoping to mitigate some of the many concerns lingering after the last attempt.
White Fox Scooters, a New Jersey-based micromobility company, has launched a docked e-scooter program in municipalities across Northern New Jersey. Docked is a key word in that description, as White Fox partners with both public and private entities to host docking stations where their scooters can be securely stored and recharged—rather than casually left along the streets and sidewalks.
“We are the first dock-to-dock company in the U.S.,” said Sidd Saxena, Founder and CEO of White Fox, in a phone conversation on Friday. “We initially launched in Jersey City, partnering with developers. We’ve grown organically from there, and currently have a wait list for docking stations.”
After nearly 675,000 trips taken on Hoboken’s Lime pilot, the market for micromobility in the Mile Square City is certainly established. In January, the City launched a request for information, soliciting companies to present their programs for another attempt. White Fox Scooters maintains it was part of that outreach, but has meanwhile established their own relationships with private property owners in Newark, Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken—setting up the potential to become a player in personal rideshare transit region-wide.
While Hoboken’s previous program was popular, it was certainly troubled. Scooters in Hoboken came under immediate and intense scrutiny following their rollout on May 20. With over 1,000 calls to Hoboken PD within the first 24 hours, a rider was arrested a month later for attempting to flee police on the Waterfront after colliding with a pedestrian. In September, a scooter collided with a mother and child on the sidewalk, prompting Hoboken City Council to crackdown on safety with bans in parks and on the Waterfront. Meanwhile, incidents of DWI on scooters in Hoboken made headlines across the country. The City went on to announce the hiring of mission-specific micromobility enforcement officers. Even with that move, the skepticism remained—in the face of volumes of anecdotal and documented concerns over safety.
On the very day that Hoboken ended its program with Lime, a 16 year-old boy in nearby Elizabeth, New Jersey was struck and killed while riding a scooter, more than to underscoring those concerns.
In an op-ed for hMAG.com last year, it was noted that, “It will take thoughtful, pragmatic urban planning and inventive strategies for effective enforcement. It will take a coalition of stakeholders—residents, politicians, vendors, law enforcement—prepared to remain focused on a common goal.”
With laws already on the books in Hoboken regarding micromobility, and passions high about the enforcement of those laws, White Fox may potentially face more scrutiny here than they might in other cities—and they seem to be prepared for that.
“Lime measured their success on the number of rides logged,” said Saxena. “[White Fox]’s metric for success will be safety and a minimizing injuries.”
White Fox maintains they are developing a helmet locker system, which will give riders free access to helmets when renting a scooter via their mobile application. According to Saxena, that design is being tested for rollout over the next few months.
“We will also provide test rides and pop-ups to familiarize riders with the scooters,” he said. “Being local to the area, we want to bring the best version of an e-scooter program to our home.”