Shared transportation companies Bird and Lime are both increasing the rate they clean their electric scooters during the coronavirus pandemic.

The two US firms rent out electric scooters that are unlocked via a mobile app, with scooters available in more than a hundred cities around world.

Lime said in a blog post published today that it is “enhancing” its cleaning methods and has “increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting our scooters” in light of the coronavirus, which is spread via cough droplets.

A Bird spokesperson told Verdict that its staff that look after its electric scooters, dubbed “Bird watchers”, are now sanitising electric scooters as they do their rounds.

Bird’s electric scooters receive a deep clean every time they are collected for charging – a measure in place pre-coronavirus.

Lime is also encouraging riders to wipe down surfaces of scooters and bikes before using them and added that riders could also “consider wearing gloves as a precaution”.

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By GlobalData

Internally, both firms have been distributing hand sanitizer to their office and warehouse workers and are also encouraging staff to work from home.

Lime said its operators in the field “are required to wear gloves and wash their hands regularly”.

In a statement to Verdict, a Lime spokesperson said:

“Safety is priority number one at Lime for both our riders as well as the valuable members of our team. The Coronavirus presents a sad and alarming new challenge for companies around the world, and Lime remains vigilant as the outbreak is managed by the appropriate health authorities.

“We continue to monitor developments, educate our staff, and make the best and safest decisions for our team and community.”

Coronavirus takes toll on gig economy

Meanwhile, technology firms operating in the gig economy have been taking precautions against COVID-19. However, the coronavirus has exposed the financial vulnerability of those working in the gig economy, with workers fearing they won’t get paid if the coronavirus forces them to stay at home.

Ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Lyft said they will suspend the accounts of drivers and delivery people affected by the coronavirus. The US firms, which have a combined market value of $50bn, said they will offer financial assistance to those taking time off.

There have more than 127,000 cases of COVID-19 since the novel virus spread from China’s Hubei province. More than 4,700 have people have died from the disease, while travel restrictions and disruptions have triggered a global economic downturn.

Read more: Coronavirus disruptions: How CIOs can prepare