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EMAILED ON October 29, 2019 BY Wes Schlagenhauf

Inside the business of the gig economy’s nightly scooter scavenger hunts


People in cargo vans have been burning rubber every night, picking up dead micro-mobility vehicles (scooters, e-bikes, etc.) and charging them so they’re ready to rip the next day. Lime calls these freelance contractors “juicers” — and to that we say, well-played, Lime. Well-played.  

Some juicers have reported earning up to $50 an hour. But, as The New York Times illustrates, the system has flaws — for both the contractors trying to make ends meet and the companies deploying them.

Get juiced 

Lime pays its juicers $3 to $10 per each scooter collected, rejuiced, and returned to the wild. While that seems like chump change in isolation, some scooter scavengers can make up to $160 a day — but it’s not always easy.

With over 37k scooters and e-bikes in Los Angeles alone, drivers are often met with critical-thinking obstacles (a dead scooter’s behind a locked gate, what you do?), hoarders (cheaters who collect scooters before they’re posted in the app), and repairs (AKA an extra trip to a “fix-it location”) that eat into their livelihood. Because, especially in this case, time is money. 

It’s also tricky for companies to employ juicers. Recent research found that companies were generating $2.43 per mile in revenue in 2019 but spending $2.55 per mile to keep the scooters running.

Then there’s the environmental contradiction…

A big reason for this whole scooter assault is to cut down on carbon emissions. But a recent study found that the average juicer drives between half a mile and 2.5 miles per scooter — accounting for 40% of a scoot’s total carbon footprint.

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