Technology

Lime’s dockless electric bikes land in London, but its scooters aren’t allowed


Just days after app-based bikesharing service Lime made its U.K. debut in the British town of Stevenage, the company is now expanding its presence to London in what may mark the start of an aggressive growth strategy in the country.

From Friday December 7, residents and visitors in the west London boroughs of Brent and Ealing will be able to use the Lime app to unlock one of its bikes for one British pound ($1.27), with the ride charged at 15 British pence (20 cents) per minute. The company aims to have 1,000 of its bikes on the streets of the two boroughs by the end of this month, with more bikes, and more boroughs, likely to follow in 2019.

Several bikesharing services are already operating in the capital, but Lime’s is the first to offer electric bicycles The longest-running scheme is sponsored by Santander through Transport for London, which has 11,500 bicycles operating between 750 docking stations across the city. A Santander bike costs two pounds ($2.54) to unlock, with the first 30 minutes free. After that, it costs two pounds per 30 minutes.

The bright green bicycle’s 250-watt motor assists riders up inclines, though it can be used at any point during a journey if you’d prefer an easy ride. On level pavement, the motor can push the bike to speeds of almost 15 mph. It also comes with a handlebar-based smartphone holder for easy navigation, and a tracker beacon. This helps Lime to know the precise location of its bikes for recharging purposes, and gives it the chance to learn more about how its fleet is being used. It also works as a security device should anyone steal the bikes or dump them in rivers, behavior which ended up forcing bikesharing scheme Mobike out of Manchester. The company continues to operate in London.

Lime is also known in the U.S. for its scootersharing service. It would like to launch the same service in the U.K., but electric scooters are currently banned on British roads and sidewalks. Several firms, including Lime, have been lobbying the U.K. government to change the rules, but so far no progress has been made.

California-based Lime launched at the start of 2017 and already offers electric two-wheelers — whether bikes or scooters — in 100 locations in 30 U.S. states, and more than 20 cities in 15 other countries.

The company recently announced that it’s reached 20 million rides globally, taking just two months to increase its count from 10 million.


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