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Lime bikes not returning to Calgary; e-scooters more popular, company says

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WATCH: Mobile transportation company Lime is pulling its fleet of bikes out of Calgary, as the popularity of its scooters saw a surge last summer. Adam MacVicar reports – Feb 1, 2020

A dockless electric bike program won’t be coming back to Calgary this spring.

In a statement to Global News on Saturday, a Lime spokesperson said that every city is unique, but in Calgary, riders are overwhelmingly using its scooters over bikes.

“In the spring, we plan to return to Calgary with our scooter fleet and will discontinue providing our e-bikes,” the statement read.

READ MORE: ‘Hop on just for fun’: Lime electric scooters launched in Calgary

The shared e-bike and e-scooter pilot started in October 2018 with Lime deploying 500 electric pedal-assist bikes in Calgary, according to the city. One thousand Lime e-scooters and 500 Bird e-scooters were launched in July 2019.

Ridership

According to a December 2019 city report, 40,000 people used e-bikes between Oct. 31, 2018 and Oct. 31, 2019, taking 168,000 trips.

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But far more chose scooters: 166,000 people took 750,000 trips from July 2019 to Oct. 31, 2019.

‘More economical bang for the buck’

As a Lime bike user, Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said he is unhappy.

“They were a great addition to the mobility options for Calgarians, specifically inner-city Calgarians,” he said. “I’m disappointed that this is the way the marketplace has taken us.”

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

He called the industry a “bold, new frontier” for micro-mobility in a shared economy. He thinks the scooters are more economical for Lime.

“[These companies are] starting to sort of dig into the economics of their operating models, and what we’re finding is that those scooters are way, way, way more economical bang for the buck for them… The cost of maintaining a fleet of bikes is way more expensive than maintaining a fleet of scooters, so I get that,” he said.
“[Bikes are] more expensive to fix, they’re more expensive to move around. It just makes sense from a private sector perspective. What’s next is going to be an interesting question and I’m glad we have the scooters.”
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Lime electric bikes outside of Calgary City Hall in late 2018. Michael King/Global News

Carra said there needs to be a conversation about what role the municipal government will play to fill holes the private sector can’t fill economically. In the meantime, he hopes that another company will emerge.

“Understanding how important a role these things play in the [lives] of our citizens and their mobility, I think that we’re going to be a lot more interested in working with any and all players to find solutions that work for all parties,” he said.

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