Bike-sharing may not be all the rage in the U.S. (yet), but there’s one company looking to change all that. Meet LimeBike, a nine-month-old startup that is bringing two-wheeled methods of transportation to cities across the United States; a startup that is now worth around $200 million. Unlike many other fledgling companies that seem to aim to solve nonexistent problems, LimeBike is hoping to reduce traffic while saving the planet, one bicycle at a time.
While denizens of New York City may be familiar with bikesharing programs like CitiBike, these initiatives certainly aren’t nearly as widespread in the U.S. as they are across the world. Sure, Mobike and Ofo have made headlines in Asia, but they haven’t seen as much adoption domestically. However, LimeBike could herald a new bike-forward age in America.
Unlike CitiBike, LimeBike is peddling a dockless system, which involves naught but an electronic lock on a bike’s back wheel. In order to unlock it, you’ll need your smartphone and the LimeBike app. Simply find the nearest bike using the app, then point your smartphone camera at the lock. If you have the proper authorization (which is to say, an account), you’ll be able to unlock the bike, and be on your merry way. You’ll be charged by the hour, and when you’re done, simply notify the app, and the bike will automatically lock itself.
Founded by Toby Sun and Brad Bao in January of this year, the San Mateo-based company charges a very affordable $1 for every half hour.
“Bike-sharing is not new, and it has been around for many years in Europe,” Sun told VentureBeat. “But we brought the model of dockless sharing from China to the U.S., where only about 1 percent of the traffic is from bikes. The goal is to make riding a bike very affordable, available, and accessible to everybody.”
Thus far, the startup claims that it’s seen more than 250,000 rides and more than 150,000 users. But it’s unclear whether or not the company will be able to reach its goal of 70,000 to 100,000 bikes across the U.S. by the end of the year. Because there aren’t LimeBike docks, some of these two-wheeled vehicles aren’t being responsibly put away. Some have been found in lakes, in trees, and sometimes, even atop building awnings. But here’s hoping that we grow up.