In the last decade, New York City and Washington, DC, have been America’s two de facto bikeshare leaders. Now it appears that various private companies might swoop in and corner their market, leading to services that are far cheaper and more convenient. The leader of these private sector actors, so far at least, has been Limebike.
On September 22nd, Toby Sun, co-founder of the San Mateo-based startup, announced on Limebike’s website that it will start a 400-bike trial period in the nation’s capital. Several days later, Metro reported that the company is also talking with public officials about expanding into New York City.
Limebike’s presence would disrupt what is considered the nation’s two leading public bikeshares, Capital Bikeshare in DC and Citi Bike in Gotham. A March report by Greater Greater Washington found that they were 2 of the nation’s 3 largest public bikeshare systems (Chicago’s Divvy Bikes being another) and they are certainly the two most renowned. But Capital Bikeshare has required large government subsidies, while Citi Bike is plagued by high costs and inconvenience for consumers. The price of a 3-day Citi Bike pass is $24, and riders must dock their bikes at one of only 600 stations throughout New York City and Jersey City. A Limebike membership costs $29.95 per month, $1 for an individual ride, and the company runs a dockless system. This means bikes can be found and unlocked by a phone app, and locked back again anywhere, rather than at a designated station.
This has made the service popular in the eight cities it’s been tried, namely Seattle, where the company’s lime green bikes have already hit critical mass in certain neighborhoods. In two months, the average total trips per day went from zero to 2,500, and according to data from The Market Urbanism Report, the company had more daily rides per bike in the first week than Seattle’s now-defunct public bikeshare service had after 3 years in operation.
[This article was originally published by Forbes.]