They’re becoming an increasingly common sight on city streets in the U.S., and now Lime’s electric bikes and scooters are coming to Australia for the first time.
The California-based company entered the Aussie market for app-based two-wheeler rentals this week, with its bikes and scooters showing up first in Sydney and Melbourne. The news comes as Lime announced it has reached 20 million rides globally with its service – only two months after clocking up 10 million.
Lime is operating 300 of its dockless bikes in Sydney, while Melbourne is the location of a three-month scooter trial on the campus of the city’s Monash University. Plans are afoot to take the scooters to Sydney and Brisbane, too.
“Sydney’s need for innovative transport solutions, which cater to the first and last mile, gives us confidence we will see high uptake of Lime bikes within the community,” said Lime executive Mitchell Price.
Price said Lime’s bikes have become popular in cities similar to Sydney “such as Seattle, whose community is looking for cleaner, cheaper, and more accessible transportation,” adding that its fleet of two-wheelers “work together with existing public transit by increasing the accessibility of public transport so people can rely less on personal cars.”
Safety on the streets
While safety on city streets has become a growing issue in the U.S. when it comes to scooter and bikesharing schemes, the Lime executive insisted this week that his company has been working closely with officials in Sydney to ensure smooth integration in the community.
Lime is currently the target of a class action lawsuit in California — along with rival firm Bird — accusing the companies of gross negligence in the way they run their respective services, with a number of riders and pedestrians reporting injuries sustained in accidents involving the scooters, which have a top speed on level ground of 15 mph.
The company recently announced it’s splashing $3 million on a campaign to encourage its users to ride more safely and responsibly.
The proliferation of Lime and other app-based services offering scooter and bike rentals has certainly taken local governments by surprise. Lime, for example, only launched at the start of 2017 and now offers electric two-wheelers in 88 locations in 27 U.S. states, and 17 cities in 10 other countries.
Officials in a growing number of cities are finally starting to play catch-up, rolling out regulations for the schemes and insisting operators apply for permits. San Francisco, for example, recently imposed a blanket ban on rental scooters while it created a permit-based system to limit their numbers and free up space on the streets again. In August, the city announced only two permits (for Scoot and Skip), while denying requests from 10 other companies, Lime among them.
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