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December 24, 2018

Bird hunter or Lime juicer

Living in Denver for the last 11 years and Boulder before that, Michael Schultz and his girlfriend Mia know the Coloradans have a reputation for enjoying all-season outdoor activities. If anything, the cold's has been good for Schultz's side hustle as a "Bird hunter" or "Lime juicer," as the gig economy chargers for the two biggest scooter companies are called. "The competition has thinned out a lot because a lot of the chargers are fair-weather chargers," says Schultz. "It's actually making it easier for me."

Scooter operators such as Lime, Bird, Skip, Spin, Lyft, and Jump all have plans to continue to deploy scooters where they can, weather-permitting. The companies all have plans to monitor for cold temperatures, icy conditions, and snowfall, to pause service or remove scooters from the roads. It's all a little vague, with promises to assess each day on a case-by-case basis, with local teams responding to the weather accordingly.

As wintertime bike commuters know, this season provides formidable challenges for two-wheeled travelers; unplowed bike lanes and roads, early darkness, and beard-shattering cold all provide compelling reasons to choose heated, enclosed alternatives.

That's a shame, if you consider that one the main goals of scooters is that they are better for cities and the environment than cars. (And gas-powered cars get worse fuel economy in the winter.) As Eric Jaffe noted on CityLab back in 2016, cycling mode shares typically experience shrinkage in the cold. But we're also seeing some signs that bike sharing has begun to turn that around: Motivate, which operates Citi Bike in New York, reports that it is seeing higher ridership in New York each winter.