Photo: A Lime bike, now part of history.
Lime, the popular bike sharing concept that won a growing number of local converts, has decided that cycles are just not as cool as e-scooters and will not bring back the green colored bicycles to Belmont sidewalks in the spring.
The bad news was confirmed by a forlorn Select Board on Monday, Feb. 3.
Belmont’s partnership with Lime came through the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a regional planning agency that negotiated a contract with Lime and more than a dozen municipalities. Since that agreement recently ended, “there is no option for a bike share program in Belmont,” said Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s Town Administrator.
“That’s a real shame,” said Board Chair Tom Caputo, as Garvin said ridership was growing each month it was in town.
The reason San Francisco-based Neutron Holdings – Lime’s parent company – is reducing its dockless bike-sharing offering is due to a shift in its business model in which the firm will focus on electric scooters which have proven to be popular in major cities and university towns.
In locations such as Washington DC to San Diego, Paris and Berkeley, e-scooters have become a convenient and cheap option for short trips. Scattered through out those cities, tourists and residents eagerly hopping on machines as they are easy and fun to use.
Garvin said she has not heard from Lime if it would approach the town with an option to locate e-scooters in town. “Would the town have to pay into that … or if docking stations will be required a whole level of complexity,” said Garvin.
“And we never agreed to do the scooters,” said the Select Board’s Adam Dash.
The Board’s Roy Epstein asked Garvin if it was possible if there was any interest by Bluebikes Bikes Share to expand into Belmont. A non-profit operated by the City of Boston and sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Bluebikes has more than 2,200 bikes using 210 docking stations throughout Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. Unlike Lime, Bluebikes are required to eventually be returned to a docking facility.
Garvin said issues to bring Bluebikes to Belmont would include if a fee was required, where the docking stations would be located and if the town would need to find a sponsor.