This weekend in South Lake Tahoe I used the LimeBike bike share for the first time. This system is truly rootless, unlike the SoBi system that allows parking outside hubs but is hub focused. As a result, bikes are everywhere, including out of town. I saw a few parking way out the bike trail northeast of town, on Emerald Bay Rd. I’m not sure if there is some sort of outside geofencing beyond which one can’t ride or leave a bike, but the current use is quite expansive. I don’t know anything about what sort of rebalancing occurs.
LimeBike is app centric, you need an iOS or Anroid phone with the app installed, and an account with credit on it. Each bike has a unique QR code,which is scanned with the app to unlock the bike. The bikes have European style wheel locks, which unlock automatically, but are manually locked at the end of the ride.
The cost is $1 for 30 minutes, not prorated, but a very good deal. The Sacramento Tower Bike Preview is $4 per hour, other SoBi systems $7 per hour, and dock systems like Ford GoBike either are membership based or about $3 for 30 minutes.
The bikes are very simple and inexpensive. The weight is less than half of a typical bike share bike, but that means they are also less robust. I saw several bikes with broken or broken off baskets. The bikes have a rear red reflector, meeting legal requirements, but not what the typical rider would want. Front generator lights are provided, the sort older people will remember from childhood, where power is generated by a wheel that rides on the tire. Some bikes are missing their front light, victims of vandals. Most importantly, the bikes are single speed, no gears to maintain, and no gears to use. Though South Lake Tahoe is flat at least close to the lakeshore, it was challenging heading up a slight hill into a headwind. The bikes have standard disc brakes, that work reasonably well. And a twist bell on the left grip.
Apparently the business model for LimeBike is that by using inexpensive bikes they can offer lower rates, and easily replace bikes when necessary. Regular system bike share bikes cost $1000 to $1600, but I would guess these bikes are about $200.