Jul. 25, 2018: Has anyone been wondering what the green bikes with the name "LimeBike" or "Lime" are doing parked around the Village of Bronxville?
Lime (formerly LimeBike) is a one-year-old startup that runs bike-sharing programs. It has over 80 locations in cities and towns nationwide such as White Plains and Yonkers in New York and Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.; university campuses such as Duke, Notre Dame, and Georgetown; and European cities such as Berlin, Paris, and Zurich. In some locations, it offers electric bikes and electric scooters in addition to traditional pedal bikes.
Unlike the Citi Bike program in New York City, however, the Lime program is a dockless system. Within a municipality or campus that has the program, users may pick up and leave the bikes virtually anywhere and are not limited to leaving the bikes at designated docking stations such as the ones you see in the city.
The program works through an app, and the bikes are monitored by GPS technology. Through the app, a user can locate the nearest LimeBike and unlock the bike by scanning the code or entering a number. The charge is $1.00 for 30 minutes, with discounts for students and others affiliated with a school and a reduced-cost program for low-income individuals. There are also monthly plans.
According to LimeBike's user agreement on its website, LimeBike users agree that they "will only use the Products [the LimeBikes] in areas where the Products are allowed" and will not use them in any "restricted areas (such as cities that prohibit certain Products)." This is generally interpreted to mean that the bikes must be used within the area that has the service so, for example, the Yonkers bikes would need to stay in Yonkers and may not be used in Bronxville. LimeBike reserves the right to charge users up to $50 for using a bike in any restricted areas. LimeBikes that are left out of the service area can be found and retrieved by the company since the bikes are equipped with GPS tracking devices, and stolen bikes can be located.
Yonkers started its LimeBike program on May 21 of this year. According to lohud, in the first month, there were nearly 30,000 rides--an average of 1,000 trips a day. The program is run without cost to the city or the taxpayers.
Lime states on its website that it is "founded on the idea that mobility can be smart, equitable and fun. By connecting cities and improving the way people experience first and last mile transportation, we aim to leave future generations with a cleaner, healthier planet. ... We're committed to building strong social bonds, lasting community relationships and the world's most versatile smart mobility fleet."
Lime partners with municipalities, university campuses, businesses, and communities, tailoring each program to the needs of its service area. It has a program called Lime Access, which is designed to provide low-income individuals with access to bikes by offering 100 rides for $5, an option to pay in cash to accommodate those without credit cards, and the ability to unlock the bikes by text to accommodate those without smartphones.
Dockless bike-sharing programs are not without drawbacks. In a recent column in MyhometownBronxville, Mayor Mary Marvin laments that the LimeBike program "has left the village with abandoned bikes in numerous unauthorized return locations." The Wall Street Journal has had several articles on the burgeoning bike-sharing programs including the Lime program and has noted this problem as well. An article on citylab.com even raises the possibility that dockless bikes may be a cybersecurity threat. Mayor Marvin concludes her comments on bike-sharing saying, "No one in the suburbs has embraced the Citi Bike concept of numerous 'stalls' in front of their homes or businesses, so the solution remains vexing."
Pictured here: A LimeBike in Bronxville.
Photo by N. Bower