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LimeBikes: Novelty Fad or Legit Ride in Spokane?

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WHAT THE HELL ARE THESE GREEN THINGS?

I’m sure she was laughing at me. She was looking right at me. It wasn’t a cute, flirty smile to encourage conversation. No, the way she was laughing was more like a slapping-your-thigh, short of breath, hysterical type of laugh. She wasn’t laughing with me—I wasn’t laughing. It was 2:30 a.m., I had just finished my closing shift, and I was beat.  It had taken me all of about 3 minutes to be standing at my front door. At that point I couldn’t give a shit that “Britney” was laughing at me and the neon green bike I had just pulled up on. Especially with her 4-inch heels, a “Bride-Zilla to be” sash, screaming at her UBER driver. “It’s been like six minutes and it said you’d be here in TWO… What are you even doing? I’ve been out here freezing for like, literally forever!”

LimeBike Spokane WA Green Scooter

I’ll admit I was self-conscious about how I looked riding around on one of those #Lime green bikes that have invaded downtown and some surrounding neighborhoods. However, I was sold after my first ride and, overnight, transformed into an unpaid spokesperson, announcing the innovation and ease of this new concept. Hoping to be the chosen alternative to driving in cities all over the world, Lime has not come without its fair share of growing pains in the process. In this article, I’m going to highlight what you need to know about #Lime, as well as their plans for the Lilac City a year from now and beyond.

Lime Bike App Spokane Green Scooter Bike

WHAT IS LIME?

Lime is one of many “Bike Share” companies providing rentals through the use of their app available for download on the App Store through Google for Android or on the Apple App Store for iOS and the company chosen for Spokane’s Pilot Program.

WHY BIKE SHARE?

As Spokane works to revitalize the downtown core, one of the main obstacles to address is the availability of parking and transportation in and around the city center. The Bike Share programs provide a convenient and affordable alternative to driving, walking, or having to buy and lug around your bike everywhere you go.

Lime Bike Spokane App Iphone Green

HOW DOES LIMEBIKE OR SCOOTER WORK?

Let’s walk through the steps of your first #Lime ride. First, download the Lime app. Input all required information, just as you would for Lyft or Uber: Name, address, payment info, etc. (Use my promo code RB6ZAUA at registration for $3 in ride credits). Next, use the app to find a Lime bike, e-bike, or scooter. Upon launching the app, you’ll find a map of available Lime products, as well as the current battery charge of the electrically assisted options. Press “Scan to Ride,” throw on a helmet, and off you go! All bikes and scooters are $1 to start, after which classic bikes are $1 every half hour and e-bikes and scooters are $ .15 a minute. 

Ending your ride is simple; the bikes feature a built-in lock which, once activated, will promptly end the ride. With the scooters, a simple click of the “end ride” button in the app will launch the camera function within the app, prompting you to take a photo of the Lime and its location.

"FAQ!" WHAT DO I DO?!

The FAQ section within the app or on their website will answer most questions about the app itself and how it works, but I will address the most common ones quickly.

Do you have to wear a helmet?

Yes. I mean, you can do whatever you want, but when you agree to the terms & conditions within the app you are agreeing to follow all local Bike laws. Spokane Regional Health District and Spokane Cares can answer most questions you have about rules in Spokane.

What do I do with it when I get where I am going?

You leave it. Yes, you leave it right there where you end up. That being said, don’t be an asshole and leave it right in the doorway of a business, in the middle of the sidewalk, or someplace where it will get damaged.

Can I ride on the sidewalk or do I have to ride in the road?

No, it is against the law to ride your bike or scooter on any city sidewalk. In the words of the Knit’s charismatic Larry Buck, “It isn’t a F@$#!$! Side-Ride! It’s F@$#!$! Side-WALK! Get in the F@$#!$! Street you @$hole!” (The preceding may or may not have been a personally witnessed interaction and quote from our beloved stage manager…)

IS IT HERE TO STAY?

Those first few nights I heard many of the same sentiments from people all over the city. The consensus was either A) It is a welcome and affordable alternative to driving, while also much more convenient and time-efficient than walking, or B) It’s nothing more than a stupid fad that will be gone in a month, leaving behind streets littered with broken scooters and twisted-up neon green bike frames. Sure, there are both positives and negatives surrounding this program, but it is a learning process nonetheless, which is why Spokane commissioned the Bikeshare Pilot Program to begin September 4th, and weather permitting, could run into November. At that point, the city will analyze the collected data and public feedback, as well as any and all risks/benefits associated with a permanent LimeBike or other Bikeshare Program. It will be a concerted effort to work together by the city, residents, and Bikeshare companies on how to best utilize a phenomenon that doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. Venture capitalists are wasting no time to go “All-In” on Bikeshare apps and believe that the future of urban mobility will be on two wheels. I am inclined to agree.

As for me…

I’ve lived downtown coming up on two years, now. I walk everywhere and I love it. However, as much as I love walking around downtown, I’m also interested in getting where I’m going faster and more efficiently. There is no alternative to transportation downtown that can come close to the ease of the #Lime app, not to mention the affordability. STA could make an argument for the bus system, but wouldn’t you rather be in control of your route while avoiding someone else’s screaming kid or slobbering “service” animal? The icing on the cake is, it’s fun! I’ve been having a blast with #Lime. So much so, that I’ve begun looking into buying an electric scooter of my own (screw “Britney”). This may very well be the way to move for the downtown dweller. I’ll let you know what I find. Until then, shoot me an email with some of your best #limelife stories. Cheers.

UPDATE: Make sure you don’t let your phone die while cruising around town. If you can’t end your scooter ride (photo included), it continues to charge (yours truly might have paid $55 for a two minute ride).
Thankfully, their customer service does appear to be  pretty awesome!
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Mike Oehm

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