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