After a three-month pilot project in 2017, the dockless bike-sharing company LimeBike is returning to South Lake Tahoe for a second season — and this year, they're bringing electric scooters, too.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, LimeBike Director of Strategic Development Sam Dreiman presented a recap of last year's launch on the South Shore and a look ahead for the coming year.
In 2017, LimeBike recorded more than 12,000 trips and around 6,000 riders with an average riding distance of 1.1 miles and trip length of 10 minutes. According to the company's calculations, the bike-sharing company saved the equivalent of roughly 6,600 vehicle miles.
"We are excited about the strong consistent ridership that Lake Tahoe offers during the summer months," said Dreiman. "It offers an excellent business case for us to be here, and the impact here is evident."
At a rate of $1 for a 30-minute ride, LimeBikes are booked using an app that scans a QR code and unlocks a mechanism on the bike, freeing it for use. The bikes do not have to be returned to any particular spot, though riders are encouraged through the app to leave them at business "hubs" or bike racks.
Last year five locally-hired employees and a manager from LimeBike handled "redistribution" of the bikes throughout town.
However, the program did receive some backlash from the South Shore community, citing bikes lefts in odd locations and an unfair advantage over local bike shops.
Dreiman noted that although there were instances of bike damage last year — some were put in trees and one was even thrown in the lake — the rate of vandalism was near the average for the other communities in which they operate: around 1 percent.
The company has made adjustments to its fleet in response to its first year in business, he said.
"We have added sensors to our bikes and scooters so we can tell when they have been tipped over and can go correct that," said Dreiman.
Starting in mid-May, LimeBike will bring around 200 units to South Lake Tahoe, including a mix of bikes and their newly launched electric scooters, Lime-S. The scooters rent for $1 plus 15 cents for every minute of use.
"We will scale up based on ridership," said Dreiman, noting that LimeBike ended 2017 with around 350 bikes in South Lake Tahoe.
Every night the scooters will be collected and recharged by staff — and possibly a group of local residents. A program called Lime Juicer, said Dreiman, would provide participating residents with a charger and pay them to plug in the scooters overnight.
This March LimeBike launched their scooters in Washington, D.C.
"We are seeing truly incredible ridership numbers," said Dreiman.
LimeBike also is working to get a pilot program for its dockless bikes off the ground in Reno. The company met with Reno City Council last November, and the Regional Transportation Commission conducted forums and research in late 2017 to get ready for the program. A launch date has not yet been set.
LimeBike began deploying its bikes in four communities last year, including South Lake Tahoe, and has since grown to operate in over 30 cities and dozens of college campuses around the country.