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The Pioneer

LimeBike offers a new ‘green’ way of transportation

Photo courtesy of JoeInSouthernCA via Flickr

Photo courtesy of JoeInSouthernCA via Flickr

Veronica Hall,
Head Layout Designer

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Ride sharing applications like Uber and Lyft are an easy way for people to get to their destination for a low price with ease of accessibility. Sometimes a car ride isn’t always necessary, but bike sharing is the newest way of transportation.

Bike sharing has become popular in big cities as a means of getting to places not too far away and causing less traffic. Docking bike stations such as FordGo bikes have popped up in the Bay Area, but were not a huge success due to the high pricing. While many people wanted to bike more, there was a lack of convenience.

Oakland resident and avid bike rider, Shirley Patrick, was excited to see more bike sharing. “It was cool to see these bikes that way people can get outside more but then I saw the prices for them and it seemed a little bit high. I know a lot of people that want to be active and nothing can be free but three dollars for 30 minutes on those Ford bikes is a racket,” said Patrick. “That’s pretty much three dollars to bike around Lake Merritt, no thank you.”

LimeBike burst onto the bike sharing scene with a new agenda, one dollar to ride and dockless. Like most bike sharing companies, LimeBike is run through their app using location services. A user opens the app on their phone and can see where bikes are around them based on a lime symbol that pops up for each bike.

Upon finding one close to their location, the user walks to the bike and unlocks it through the app by scanning a QR code displayed on the front or back of the bike. A short jingle plays and the automated locking system that goes through the rear tire is released. After completing their trip, the rider has the freedom to park their bike wherever it’s convenient. They press the red lever located under the seat to activate the back tire lock followed by selecting end trip on the app.

The simple process is intriguing but also left me wondering what it would be like to get around on only LimeBike’s for a day. Thankfully, my hometown of Alameda was one of the two cities in the Bay Area to have a pilot program of LimeBike’s on the island for six months. 300 bikes were placed in Alameda as the start number and sure enough when I opened the app, the map was packed with limes all throughout the streets.

Upon downloading, a person receives three free rides. I referred a friend which gave me another three free rides so with six free rides in total, I wasn’t worried about the price. I found one two blocks away from my house and briskly walked to it. There could always be the chance that someone else was going after this bike too.

I found the bike parked on the corner which made me less nervous about possibly taking someone’s ride. I opened my app, scanned the code, danced with the jingle and then took off. I was never especially great at bike riding, but the cruiser style of the bike made it feel more casual. The bike had easy to access brakes and a gear shift which gave me some peace of mind.

I was jamming through the Alameda streets when I came to my first stop. It was a drugstore so bike racks were in abundance. I parked the bike near the racks and proceeded to go through the process of locking up the bike. As I walked into the store, a wave of anxiety washed over me about how the bike was up for grabs now and anyone could take it.

I laughed at myself for thinking that I wouldn’t be able to find another bike after opening the app to see at least five bikes all in the vicinity. After my temporary insanity of laziness, I went shopping and then walked out to find the bike still there. I threw my purchased goods in the LimeBike’s front basket and was off on my journey again.

My next couple of stops were not far from each other and relatively short errands to run. Each time I came out, the bike was there. I began to wonder if anyone else was even using the bikes. However, when I came out of the post office a couple asked me about the bikes and said they had seen them all over Alameda. I gave them a breakdown of LimeBike and they seemed impressed, I continued my ride.

The last destination was my job which was on the other side of town. This gave me the chance to really get a feel of the bike and how it travels. On the LimeBike app, the user can see how many miles they traveled and how much calories were burned during the trip so I was excited to see how much I burned in my day of cycling.

To my surprise, outside of my workplace were two LimeBike’s parked by the front door. I was ecstatic and told my coworkers all about it. After our shift we took the bikes and went to a local winery, discussing how much fun the bikes are and how it’s been so long since any of us had gone bike riding.

As we wrapped up a few glasses, we went outside and prepared to get back to riding. But for the first time all day, the bikes were gone. We checked the app and the lime symbol was way too far from us. On our walk back to the job, we laughed about how we weren’t meant to drink and cycle.

LimeBike’s business platform emphasizes convenience and accessibility which I believe it does a great job of doing. In total, I biked 5.4 miles and burned 653 calories in my one day of riding. I had fun and felt healthier by the time I ended my last trip and arrived home. The experience made me realize just how easy it can be to get around with bike sharing and not break my bank in doing so. It’s a cool feeling to know that there is a quick and green form of transportation never too far away.

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