With community discussion on the future of dockless mobility options a hot topic on Santa Monica streets, Bird Scooter and Breeze Bike competitor Lime has pedaled in under the radar to launch their dockless e-bikes with little fanfare.
Appearing on Santa Monica’s street corners this week, Lime e-bikes mirror Bird’s dockless, app-driven model and are quickly drawing a following among non-car commuters.
“We are currently the only company offering dock-free e-bikes in Santa Monica,” Thomas Lord, Lime’s L.A. General Manager told The Mirror. “The electric assist bikes can be used in many ways but have a much longer range than a scooter. This makes them the perfect option for someone regularly commuting into the city for work, or for someone visiting who wants to see as much of the city as they can in a day.”
A Lime e-bike costs $1 to unlock and then charges $0.15 per minute, a similar formula to Bird Scooters. Santa Monica City’s Breeze Bikes work on a range of plans, however their per-minute rate is a little cheaper at $0.12, but adds a $2 out of hub fee it not docked correctly and has to be prepaid with a $7 minimum.
Santa Monica City is supportive of new transportation entries to the market to get more people out of cars, activating our streets and living carbon light, according to City of Santa Monica Mobility Manager Francie Stefan.
“These new choices complement Breeze and Big Blue Bus services that also provide equity access through pass programs, TAP payments, income and senior-qualified programs,” Stefan told The Mirror.
In terms of competition, it stands to reason that Lime will impact City coffers, perhaps even encouraging further innovation in the market.
“Because of the extra boost our electric assist bike gives, it can be used as first and last-mile transportation to public transit stops (as our classic pedal bike generally is), or used as an alternative for car and rideshare trips. We believe the flexibility of the product is perfect for Santa Monica because of the various reasons residents and visitors will use it, from commuting to exploring the city,” Lord said.
“We have seen these options slightly impact Breeze ridership in recent months, but overall ridership is still strong and Breeze is still a great option for trips and first-last mile connections both in our business districts and neighborhoods,” Stefan replied. “We are continuing to make improvements to the system, including regional integration and upgrading bikes to ensure it continues to be an appealing option.”
The issue of safety has also been raised with the entry of Lime, as social media has recently come alive with Bird Scooters and their dockless operations. Several residents have reported stumbling over a stray Bird that has been left in the middle of a street or sidewalk.
“The City is working with these operators to encourage safe operation,” Stefan explained. “We also have a pilot in development to guide the longterm strategy for dockless mobility options, including where and how many devices fit the need and scale of Santa Monica.”