Mayor Ravi Bhalla took to Twitter on Sept. 12 to announce the city will terminate its contract with OjO, one of the city’s escooter ride-sharing providers. This comes after a young mother and her child were hit by a juvenile riding an OjO scooter on the sidewalk near Eighth and Clinton streets.
Bhalla’s decision has the full support of Police Chief Ken Ferrante.
OjO and Lime have been the two e-scooter companies participating in Hoboken’s six-month pilot program, which began in May.
“Overall, I believe e-scooters have been a net positive to Hoboken,” tweeted Bhaala. “However, this morning, after careful consideration and analyzing the two scooter companies over the past three months, I’ve made a decision to end our contract with Ojo.”
When asked if the contract was terminated because of the recent collision, city spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri said it was “ a culmination of many factors,” including lack of education, enforcement, and technology.
“1. Ojo’s technology hasn’t adapted to the needs of our community,” tweeted Bhalla. “Despite a waterfront restriction, Ojo hasn’t implemented a slowdown or taken action to prevent scooters on our waterfront. 2. Ojo has demonstrated an inability to provide adequate on-the-ground staff that a responsible e-scooter company needs to safely and effectively operate a shared scooter program. 3. Ojo hasn’t provided a robust public education campaign to ensure responsible ridership.”
According to Chaudhuri, the city overnighted the official contract termination notice to OjO. The company will have 48 hours to remove its seated scooters from city streets. As of 3 p.m. Sept. 12, the scooters could no longer be rented.
OjO had 50 seated escooters on city streets which had to be parked at Jersey Bike stations. Chaudhuri said the contract termination will have no negative impact on the city’s bike-sharing program despite being managed by the same company, P3 Global Management.
Bhalla said he believes the widely popular escooter program is a valuable green alternative to traditional transportation methods, but “the safety and well-being of our residents is my number one priority.”
“My administration remains committed to sustainable transportation options, along with safe riding through the implementation of protected bike lanes,” Bhalla said. “We will continue to lead in this field by working to improve all methods of transportation within our city, which includes the Lime e-scooters. I appreciate Lime’s continued efforts to improve the e-scooter sharing experience for all users and look forward to working with them to make even more improvements throughout the remainder of the pilot period.”
Since Lime and began the pilot program in Hoboken in late May, more than 60,000 unique riders have taken more than 400,000 rides. More than 17,000 users have taken at least five rides on Lime e-scooters.
Police Chief Ken Ferrante stated the incident with the woman and small child is still under investigation. No serious injuries had been reported.
The mother and her child, who was being pushed in a double stroller, were allegedly struck by a juvenile who was riding the OjO scooter on the sidewalk near the intersection of Clinton and Eighth streets.
The victim and her child were treated at the scene by medical personnel. The mother suffered a bruise on her leg. The juvenile rider waited at the scene.
While no complaint has been filed, the police department’s Traffic Bureau is exploring if there is enough evidence to file charges, but that “is still being determined.”
Ferrante said part of the investigation will include how the juvenile gained access to the escooter, because riders must be over 18 years old and show legal identification in order to rent the escooter.
As for the mayor’s decision to terminate the OjO contract, Ferrante said, “I support the decision, without a doubt.”
“We are aware of an incident involving an OjO Electric scooter yesterday in Hoboken,” tweeted OjO Electric. “We are investigating and cooperating with local authorities. Safety has always been our most important goal. We cannot allow irresponsible people to jeopardize the safety of our community. We take this situation very seriously and are extremely upset to hear one of our riders behaved so irresponsibly. We are looking into this situation and we are working with city officials.”