LimeBike Bikeshare is coming to Folsom, and my guess is you're either going to love it or hate it.
What's a LimeBike? LimeBike is a dockless bike-sharing company based in San Mateo, and they have plans on bringing 200 bikes to Folsom and Rancho Cordova.
What's dockless bike-sharing?
Well, few years back someone came up with the idea of making short-term bike rentals available to consumers. The bikes would be parked at docks (bike racks) in strategic locations, and users would unlock and pay for pay rentals using phone apps. When finished, the user would return the bike to the dock.
The idea was pretty successful, but people were limited in that they had to either return the bike to where they got them, or to another dock in one of the few locations where they were located. So, if there was no dock where you were heading, you had to dock it at the closest one, and walk or otherwise get to your true destination.
Along came 'dockless' bike sharing.
It's the same concept, in that you use a phone app to rent a bike, but the difference is, you can find them and drop them off anywhere in the city.
These became hugely popular, and the concept has spread around the world. If you're in San Francisco, for example, say you took bart into town to see a Giants game. Rather than waking, taking public transit, taking a cab or a ride-share, you would use your app to find and unlock a bike, ride it to the ballpark and leave it outside.
Pretty soon, these bikes were being used by commuters, sports fans, partiers and tourists.
It's so convenient, and cheap, too. Standard bikes generally rent for $1 per half hour, and the electric ones go for an initial $1, then ten cents per minute.
Jump was the first company to offer the service, and was bought out by Uber. Then, along came LimeBike, Motivate and others.
Pretty soon, there was no shortage of bikes to get you around the city.
Everyone seemed to love the idea of cheap, accessible transportation, helping people move around town while getting cars off the road.
There are issues, however.
The biggest complaint is the fact that people are leaving bikes all over the place; in the middle of sidewalks, bike lanes, driveways, in front of businesses, and in residential neighborhoods, where they can become tripping hazards and eyesores.
There is also the potential danger in that most riders don't carry helmets, and there is no training required, so inexperienced riders were soon zipping in and out of traffic and through crowded sidewalks. I don't have any stats on accidents, but you can google and find several reported fatalities.
City governments are logging complaints, and in some cases, confiscating bikes and issuing fines. Some citizens are striking back by tossing bikes in dumpsters, chaining them up, or vandalizing them.
The bike-share companies are doing what they can to pick up abandoned bikes, and to keep their bikes in good repair, but they haven't figured out a way to get riders to do the right thing when finished, and we're not sure what the right thing is.
Now, we get to see first hand what bike-sharing can do for, or to, Folsom. The 50 Corridor TMA (transportation management association) is teaming up with LimeBike to bring a 200 bike pilot program to Folsom and Rancho Cordova.
Will residents commute into town and ride home, leaving their bikes in front of their homes? Will we see bikes abandoned up and down East Bidwell? At shopping centers? At schools?
Time will tell, as Limebike is expected to launch here in the coming weeks.
By the way, the latest issue for cities is 'scooter sharing'. Just as with bikes, you'll be able to rent an electric scooter, take it to your destination, and leave it... anywhere.