Motivate and LimeBike participated in a forum held by Nice Ride in partnership with Our Streets Minneapolis and the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition to share their thoughts for a dockless bike share in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Motivate and LimeBike presented their ideas for how they would incorporate their bike shares into Nice Ride’s current docked system and into the Twin Cities. The companies then participated in a Question and Answer section with questions from the audience.
Motivate is based in Brooklyn, New York and has bike shares in nine cities. LimeBike is based in California and is a relatively new company launching in June this year. LimeBike has bike shares in seventeen cities and on six college campuses.
Motivate’s dockless bikes are called Flex Bikes, they hope to integrate these bikes into Nice Ride’s current system by adding a bike rack for them next to the current Nice Ride docks so users can get used to the system alongside the system they already know. Motivate plans to serve Minneapolis and St. Paul equally, rebalancing the bikes between the two cities, particularly focusing on underserved areas, where inexpensive rides can be of a greater use. They promise to have at least 30% of the bikes in St. Paul, either by the Bike Angels program or moved manually by Motivate if need be. Motivate plans on putting out 2,000 smart bikes in 2018 going up to 5,000 in 2019 and 20,000 in 2020.
A Motivate bike.
LimeBike, because of the youth of the company, has only ever operated a dockless system, rather than Motivate who has primarily operated docked bike shares. LimeBike hopes to have a similar balance of bikes in both cities, moving their bikes back and forth between the cities if need be. Their bikes have a solar panel in the basket that powers a GPS tracker and rear light, they are eight speed bikes, and can hold up to 880 lbs. LimeBike plans to put out 2,000-3,000 bikes in 2017 and then see how those are implemented, adding up to ten thousand if the market demands in 2018.
Both companies plan to have their rides cost $1 per 30 minutes. Motivate has a $95 per year membership along with a $9.95 day pass for 3 hours total and as low as $5 per year for some low income individuals. LimeBike has a $30 for 100 rides membership along with 50% off for students and government employees and a 50% off discount for low income individuals.
Both companies have systems where users can pay cash in person, this money placed into an account for them so they can rent a bike in the future. Motivate’s system works off a physical key and LimeBike’s systems allows an individual to call and give the number on the bike to an employee who can unlock the bike remotely. The problem of how to find a bike without a smartphone and the mapping capabilities that go along with it, still remains without a solution. Motivate mentioned that the docked stations will continue to exist for at least a year, so those without smartphones can always use those, knowing where those stations are located. LimeBike acknowledged research shows most low income people have smartphones but are less likely to have computers or a banking system, making the ability to pay in cash a more important focus point.
Both companies hope to operate in the winter by using winterized bikes and proper maintenance. Motivate cited their operation in Chicago as proof they can handle a Minneapolis winter.
Both companies plan to service their bikes at least once every month and their bikes should last at least 2-5 years. Motivate works on a system where a user can flag a bike and then that bike can not be checked out and will be picked up within 24 hours and serviced.
A big problem in cities around the world with a dockless bike share has been improper parking, both companies have done research on cities where this has been a problem, both having visited China where piles of bike share bikes have popped up because of the huge influx of bikes and improper bike parking. Both companies plan to use geofencing to keep their bikes in the city and direct people to good areas to park their bikes. LimeBike acknowledged there will be parking issues without a doubt and that many problems can be solved will proper education and communication with the city.
A pile of bike share bikes in China.
An important issue for bike shares is that of racial and economic equity. A company moving into Minneapolis and St. Paul will have to look at how their bike share will accommodate areas and individuals historically under served by a system that could greatly benefit them. Motivate plans to use their partnership with Nice Ride to create an equity program to address these problems along with surveying riders to see how diversity plays into their membership and user-ship. LimeBike plans to watch how people use their bikes and acknowledged that with a dockless system, bikes end up where they are most needed and used rather than being attached to wherever a dock station is located meaning it can reach more people across demographics.
Finally the companies talked about how an exclusive deal with the city of Minneapolis will benefit the customer, the company, and the city as a whole. Motivate talked about competition affecting affordability and how regulation keeps prices low and allows the company to subsidize low income areas. LimeBike addressed having a good relationship with the city and how competition has affected their bike shares in other cities and how a partnership with the city will keep prices low.
Nice Ride accepted comments from the general public until Tuesday Nov 7 and is now working on making a decision as to which vendor, Motivate or Limebike, will be the dockless bike share vendor for the Twin Cities.