It’s official – Lime bikes are now on the streets of St. Pete. The bike share service began today as Lime debuted its Gen4 e-bikes throughout downtown and neighboring districts.
Riders can access the bikes either through the Lime app or in the Uber app, courtesy of Lime’s micromobility integration with Uber, making it so that many won’t even have to download a new app. Lime says the new Gen4 e-bikes “will provide riders with the smoothest and most environmentally friendly e-bike ride in Lime’s history.”
St. Pete first introduced a bicycle sharing program back in 2016, and in the years since its popularity has consistently grown. Now, the bike share program is taking the next step forward as the St. Petersburg City Council voted to enter a contract with Lime Bikes to bring their popular micromobility bikes to the Burg.
The original contract with Coast Bikes ran out on March 31 of this year, paving the way for Lime to come to town with a larger footprint at a cheaper cost to the city. Because Lime bikes are not solar powered, as the Coast Bikes, more corrals and bike racks can be put up in areas that didn’t receive enough sunlight, adding more accessibility for those either visiting or already inside the city.
And in fact, the proposal from Lime estimated that it will save the city around $50K per year in operating expenses. Lime will deploy the initial 300 bikes at their own cost, and will be responsible for picking up and recharging them, much like the current Razor and Veo scooters in town. The number of bikes could grow to up to 500 in the future based on demand.
“We are excited about Lime being selected as the new vendor for the City’s bike share program,” said John Barkett, Chair of the Transportation Committee for the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. “It is an excellent step up in available mobility options for residents and visitors alike. A differentiator is that Lime does not run its displays off solar which allows for more flexibility and options in regard to rack locations across the City, which will be expanded upon including along SunRunner stops.”
The Lime bikes are available for short-term rental at hubs throughout the city, and e-bikes will have a governor that regulates their maximum assisted speed to 15mph, consistent with escooters. Lime also provides a significant discount – 70% off – for users who qualify for their Lime Access equity-based programs.
As for the leftover bikes from the original 2016 deal, the majority of the 6.5-year-old bikes have reached or are close to the end of their shelf life, so the city is “in discussions with various charitable organizations who may wish to repurpose the bicycles.” More than 250,000 rides have been taken on the Coast Bikes, with numbers expected to grow under the new deal with Lime.