U.S.-based Lime to launch 1st Canadian bike-sharing program in Calgary ‘within days’

Click to play video: '‘Dockless’ bike-sharing could set up on Calgary streets by summer'
‘Dockless’ bike-sharing could set up on Calgary streets by summer
Tue, Jan 23: Some downtown Calgary office buildings will be offering bikes for employees to share this summer. And as Sarah Offin reports, the city is considering a system for rental bikes all over the city – Jan 23, 2018

A California-based dockless bike-sharing service is eyeing expansion north of the border. LimeBike said Wednesday its launch in Calgary is just around the corner.

“We are very, very close with Calgary on our e-bikes,” Lime spokesman Nico Probst told Global News. “I honestly think we’re within days.”

READ MORE: Calgary councillor proposes city move ahead with bike sharing service

The service operates through an app. Users open the app to see where the nearest bike is and are then charged $1 to unlock the bike and 30 cents per minute to ride.

“When we get up and running, that’s sort of the beauty of this whole dockless system — it’s where it’s most convenient for the user in terms of trip destination and origin,” Probst said.

“What that means is we typically see, once we launch, the products really move all across cities… As people use the product, they park them where it’s most convenient for them and then the next user can take it from there.”

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READ MORE: Riders in Belleville modifying e-bikes to travel twice the speed limit

Lime-E Electric-Assist Bikes are equipped with a 250-watt motor and can travel at a maximum speed of 23.8 km/h.

Lime has been in talks with several Canadian cities about how its services could supplement cities’ transit options. Lime offers e-bikes, pedal bikes and electric scooters.

READ MORE: E-scooter share pilot program underway in Waterloo, first of its kind in Canada

Waterloo became the first Canadian city to pilot the scooters just two weeks ago.

While the scooters aren’t designed for winter weather, Probst said the bikes are.

“We do really feel like they’re winter applicable. The use-case is a little bit different — not everyone is going to want to utilize a bike in cold winter days, but some people do.”

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Still, he admits launching a bike-sharing service in Alberta just ahead of winter isn’t ideal in terms of timing.

“Obviously, we would much rather be there in June and July and really have the good, warm months to operate. But we started conversations a few months back and we really focus on having a good relationship with the city that we enter and really look at it as a partnership opportunity.”

READ MORE: ‘Dockless’ bike-sharing could set up on Calgary streets by summer

And the timing was right for the city of Calgary. City officials have been working with Lime for some time and felt it might be a good way to encourage more Calgarians to bike.

“The city has really done just some incredible work in building really robust bicycle lane infrastructure.

“They’ve had that infrastructure ready to go and are really focused now on getting that utilization of those lanes up,” Probst said. “They’ve been looking for a vendor like us I think for quite a number of months. So the timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

READ MORE: From e-transportation, to virtual reality health care: How Toronto is fostering high-tech start-ups

As with all the products in its fleet, Lime is responsible for taking care of, repairing and rounding up any stray bikes.

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“We are a subsidy-free mechanism to every city,” Probst said. “Because we are not asking the city for anything other than the staff time it takes to negotiate with us and setting a good regulatory environment for us to enter, it really is on us to manage our fleet product.”

He said when Lime enters any new market, it brings with it a local operations team in charge of managing, redeployment and retrieving abandoned or damaged bikes.

“We have local mechanics on staff as well who can repair products as needed. That is all on us.”

Lime has operated dockless bike and share programs in San Francisco, Berlin, Chicago and 70 other cities worldwide.

Probst said the company’s been in talks with Edmonton but couldn’t say how far along in the process it was or if and when it might launch there.

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