Popular Lime Bike Dumps Belmont To Pursue The Coolness Of Scooters

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.

Lime Or Orange: Town-Wide Bike Sharing To Start June 30

Photo: Spencer Gober with a LimeBike.

Belmont residents will soon be able to choose between lime or orange, and it isn’t the type of citrus-flavored water served at Town Hall. Rather, the fruity choice is the colors associated with a pair of bike-sharing companies which will soon be up and running in Belmont.

Walking into the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, June 11 with a bike owned by San Mateo-based LimeBikelime green with yellow fenders – Community Development’s Staff Planner Spencer Gober updated the board on the competing firms – the other being Spin located in San Francisco – as they prepare to begin operations in Belmont.

Both companies operates dockless bicycle-sharing systems in several cities and college campuses across the United States, using a mobile app to unlock and use the bikes for a dollar a ride. The Selectmen voted in April to join a regional bicycle-sharing program developed by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

The impetus in approving the agreement was to cut vehicle traffic from the neighborhoods to business centers. Gober noted Malden has a similar system in operation since May, generating 250 rides per day with the average distance of a little less than half a mile.

Spenser said both firms will have 17 bikes distributed about town that will roll out in three phases over the summer. The bikes will begin operating in town on Saturday, June 30 with the first rides commencing from the Belmont Media Center in Waverley Square.

‘Dockless’ Bike Share Comes To Belmont This Summer

Photo: Dockless bike share in Washington DC (Credit: Washington Post)

By early summer, Belmontians will be able to grab a bike for a buck and ride off to travel around Belmont and 14 nearby towns. When they’re done, the riders need only to park it at a centralized location and that’s it.

Welcome to bike sharing, Belmont-style, as the Board of Selectmen voted on Monday, April 9  to sign an agreement to join a regional bicycle-sharing program that is unlike the Hubway Bike Share program used in Boston (since 2011), Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville which require docking stations which municipalities need to invest thousands of dollars at several locations. Under the new “dockless” program, there is no cost to Belmont. 

“This will help take cars off the street,” said Spencer Gober, Office of Community Development staff planner, who has been working with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) which brought together a group of 15 communities to join in a joint request for station-free proposals. In addition to Belmont, Watertown, Arlington, Lexington, Waltham, Bedford, and Concord and other cities and towns in Metro Boston are interested in joining the system.

About a year ago, several bike-sharing companies were seeking to establish relationships with individual municipalities when the MAPC took the lead to find the two vendors which were recently chosen to supply up to 2,000 bikes over the member towns and cities. The new dockless bike share system is taking off with Seattle and Washington launching programs using thousands of bicycles.

The service brings bikes with locks on their wheels that are opened by using the company’s app on their smartphone. Users can use the app to find locations of bikes which have GPS locators. The bikes will be located at designated public locations around town, including business centers and transportation hubs. Between 35 to 50 bikes – which may also include e-bikes, electric pedal-assist bicycles – will be located in Belmont with the cost per ride at $1, said Gober. Riders can cross town lines without leaving the network.