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LimeBike rides its national growth with eyes on New York City

“We respect what Citi Bike has done, and we would be very happy to cooperate with them in the city,” co-founder Toby Sun said.

With Citi Bike nearing 50 million total rides since its 2013 launch, it’s safe to say that New Yorkers love cycling around town. And with the success of the program, other bikeshares are now champing at the bit to get their wheels on the ground.

Among them are Spin, which last month tried to hold a pop-up demonstration in the Rockaways, and LimeBike, which has been in talks with city officials to bring its lime-green bicycles to town, co-founder Toby Sun told Metro.

“We’re thrilled to have the potential opportunity to serve New York,” he said. “We’ve been doing a lot of communication with city officials, the Department of Transportation and also the people, so it’s not just getting the city on board but the community and local businesses.”

Since it was founded in San Mateo, California, in January, LimeBike has rapidly expanded from its first location on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in June to now serve 17 markets across the country, including nine cities and eight college campuses.

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“So far we’ve done 400,000 trips in total in three months and over 200,000 users registered, and we see over 13,000 trips a day,” Sun said.

It launched in its first major East Coast market, Washington, D.C., last Thursday, and Sun hopes New York isn’t too far behind — if approved by city officials.

“I don’t know the exact date,” he said. “We hope as soon as possible, but we’re patient. When we go into a new market, we make sure the stakeholders, the users and the community see what’s coming and work together to not ruin a good program by not mismanaging that.”

The contract Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, has with the city gives it exclusivity for the first two phases of its expansion, which will be completed by yearend.

Beyond this year, “the DOT is evaluating the viability of the newest generation of bikesharing technology in order to expand the system,” a spokesperson told Metro. “This includes meeting with the industry, though our immediate focus remains the continued expansion of (Citi Bike’s) Phase II, which began this month.”

So about that bikeshare technology …

Unlike Citi Bike, which must be picked up and returned at one of its 600 docking stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City, LimeBike is dockless, meaning users can pick up and drop off the bicycles at just about any bike rack or designated area — with no additional costs to the city or taxpayers.

After entering their credit card info into LimeBike’s iOS or Android app, riders can locate nearby bicycles and scan its QR code or enter its plate number to unlock it. After the ride, which costs $1 each or $0.50 for 30 minutes for students with a valid .edu email, they can then leave the bike at an appropriate location and press the lock on the back wheel to end their trip.

The company also offers LimePrime, which gives 100 rides for $29.95 per month or $14.95 for students.

Comparatively, Citi Bike offers a $12 day pass with 24-hour access and a three-day, 72-hour pass for $24. Both feature unlimited 30-minute rides, with each additional 15 minutes an extra $4. Annual membership is $163 and includes the first 45 minutes of each ride. Each additional 15 minutes is $2.50.

“To us, anything that promotes driving less and riding more we are the No. 1 advocate for, so kudos to Citi Bike for pioneering bikeshare at a time when there was no workable dockless program out there,” Sun said. “Eventually, the market and user should have the right to choose what’s the best for them. We respect what Citi Bike has done, we would be very happy to cooperate with them in the city.”

 
 
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