Bike-share company Lime began renting electric scooters Thursday in Meridian, its first market in Idaho.
Based in San Mateo, California, Lime is one of the biggest bike- and scooter-share companies operating across the U.S. and in foreign countries. None of its competitors has dipped a toe into Idaho yet.
For now, the company is renting only scooters — 200 of them, and that number will increase to meet demand, spokeswoman Megan Colford said. They cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute to use. Their top speed is almost 15 mph, Colford said. You have to be at least 18 to rent them.
Lime’s arrival comes a little more a month after Meridian’s neighbor to the east, Boise, enacted regulations for bike- and scooter-sharing companies. The rules sets minimum and maximum numbers of bikes and scooters that each company can operate in Boise and limits the total number of shared devices citywide to 750.
Boise’s regulations haven’t dampened Lime’s desire to operate there, Colford said. The company has been negotiating with Meridian and Boise for months, she said, and permission from Meridian came first, she said. Lime hopes to launch service in Boise in a few weeks.
How it works
Dockless, or stationless, bike-sharing services started popping up about a year-and-a-half ago in cities like San Francisco and San Diego. They were popular in Europe before that. Scooters have gained popularity lately in some cities as alternatives that don’t leave riders sweating as they arrive at work.
Customers download apps for Lime (formerly known as LimeBike), Ofo, Razor and Spin to their smartphones. The app shows the location of available bikes or scooters. A customer scans a QR code on the bike to unlock it. When customers are done using the bikes, they leave them on the sidewalk or at a bike rack and lock them again.
It’s a handy service, especially for people who need to cover “that last little bit of commute that might be needed from a bus station or from a park-and-ride,” said Craig Croner, Boise’s administrative services manager.
Lime offers 50 percent discounts for low-income customers who register and provide proof of low-income status.
Customers don’t have to lock their bikes to a rack or any other kind of station — a convenience that that has irritated some. San Diego learned the hard way not to allow dockless shared bikes in the area around Petco Park, where the Padres play baseball, Croner said.
On game days, people left hundreds of bikes littering the walkways around the stadium, and when the games were over, the exiting crowds tripped over them. San Diego has since banned dockless shared bikes around the stadium, Croner said.
Lime will try to avoid these problems in Meridian.
“To make sure our scooters are parked responsibly throughout Meridian, we are collecting them on a daily basis, charging them overnight and redistributing them the next day in approved areas so that they are on the sidewalks fully charged, maintained, and ready to be ridden every morning,” the company’s news release reads. “This also helps us ensure they are stood upright and parked responsibly so that they do not block pedestrian right-of-way or obstruct any sidewalks or roadways.”
Over the past several months, Croner and other Boise staffers have examined experiences of cities like San Diego. Their proposal for regulating dockless bike sharing services draws from the lessons learned in those places, Croner said.
Meridian has no bike-share regulations other than a memorandum of understanding that Mayor Tammy de Weerd and Lime Regional General Manager Jason Wilde signed Tuesday. The MOU allows Lime to rent electric scooters, electric bicycles and standard pedal-powered bicycles. It authorizes Meridian to stop Lime’s operations with a 60-day notice. It requires the company to repair any damage to city property that its equipment causes and to remove from public right-of-way any scooters or other devices that are inoperable or unsafe.
Meridian’s attorney believes state law prohibits riding electric scooters on sidewalks, city spokeswoman Kaycee Emery said.
For more information, call Lime customer service at (888) 544-6345.