LimeBike has unveiled its latest weapon in its turf war with its fellow dockless bike-share startups — electric bikes. While the bikes don't appear to be headed to Dallas as part of the initial rollout, Dallas bike-share riders could be moving around at as much as 15 mph in the near future.
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The Lime-E bikes are set to debut in Seattle; Miami; Scottsdale, Arizona; Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area this month. They feature 250-watt motors powered by lithium-ion batteries. The motors, according to the company, recharge using a "combination of battery, solar and pedal power," so they don't need docks.
“2018 is shaping up to be a landmark year for the global bike-share movement,” LimeBike CEO Toby Suns says. “Our electric-assist bike, Lime-E, will provide cities with a fast, efficient, equitable source of first- and last-mile transportation at absolutely no cost to taxpayers and minimal cost to riders.”
The Lime-E bikes have a 62-mile maximum range and cost $1 to unlock, plus $1 for each 10 minutes a rider spends on the bike. Anthony Fleo, LimeBike's director of operations in Dallas, didn't respond to a request for information about when the bikes might be in Dallas, but the company promises it will work to introduce the bikes to its other cities throughout 2018. Texas law regulates electric bikes the same as the standard, pedal-powered variety, as long as they aren't capable of going more than 20 mph.
There are between 3,800 and 5,000 LimeBikes in Dallas. Given current ridership numbers — each bike in LimeBike's Dallas fleet is being ridden less than once a day, according to the Observer's math — the e-bikes could change LimeBike's economic model. The company's pedal-only bikes cost $1 per half hour, but they also likely cost around $200 each, according to transit experts. The e-bikes certainly cost more and would hurt LimeBike's bottom line more if they disappear at the company's current 3 percent loss rate.