Lime is bringing dockless bike share to Baltimore this weekend

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Photo by Lorianne DiSabato, via Flickr

Tomorrow, just shy of four months since the demise of the city’s ill-fated docked bike share program, one of the city’s new electric scooter vendors is bringing bicycles back to Baltimore.

Lime, which has already been piloting its rentable scooters in Baltimore since September, is introducing bikes and e-bikes this weekend, city officials announced yesterday.

Department of Transportation spokesman German Vigil said in an email Thursday that they’ll be rolling out the two-wheelers on Saturday, with 100 bikes to start. The cost for use is the same as the widely used electric scooters: $1 to start and 15 cents per minute thereafter. Lime offers the bikes in both conventional form and an electric-assisted model, though the company plans to only offer the latter this winter.

Lime, will be scaling their inventory up from there, according to cycling advocacy group Bikemore. In a release sent to Baltimore Fishbowl today, the company said there will be 250 e-bikes deployed here. The other 150 bikes should be here by the end of next week.

“The city of Baltimore has been a terrific partner in this effort and we could not be more excited for ongoing work with city and community leaders to best fill Baltimore’s unique transportation needs,” the company’s general manager, Sean Arroyo, said in a statement.

Liz Cornish, Bikemore’s executive director, praised the addition of a new dockless transportation offering in the city—especially one equipped with an electric boost for pedaling.

“A lot of what stops people using bikes for short trips is the effort it takes to navigate Baltimore’s hills,” she said in a statement. “Pedal assist e-bikes means more people on bikes, fewer people in cars, and more people experiencing the joy of seeing the city on two wheels.”

The city signed pilot program contracts with Lime and another nationally popular scooter-sharing company, Bird, this past summer. The announcement coincided with DOT’s decision to kill its 22-month-old docked bike share program with Canadian firm Bewegen Technologies. Baltimore Fishbowl had reported that the system was failing, with major inventory losses and maintenance backups.

The pilot agreements allow for both companies to bring up to 1,000 of their vehicles here through February, when the contract runs out. Under the original arrangement, both companies would pay the city $15,000 apiece, as well as $1 per vehicle, per day, for every scooter or bike they would bring, and then collect revenue from rentals.

But officials later amended the agreement for Lime to allow Lime to pay a flat rate of $20 per bike, after reported objections from the company over the fee structure being “not feasible” for bikes.

Vigil said the new payment scheme “allows for Lime to sustainably operate in a city,” and that DOT’s “goal is to allow the vendor to operate with the best benefit to both the City of Baltimore and Lime.”

The city’s spending board approved that amendment on Oct. 17.

Similarly to the highly competitive, crowd-sourced scheme used to keep electric scooters available and charged, Lime pays freelance “juicers” to collect, recharge and distribute their e-bikes daily.

This story has been updated.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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