When you don’t feel like walking, but you’d rather not call an Uber or Lyft let alone use traditional forms of public transportation, there is Lime.
Lime says it its founding principle is to provide “smart, affordable” mobility for short-distance needs, with the intention of reducing the use of personal vehicles. Founded at the beginning of 2017, California-based Lime has expanded to cities and college campuses all across the U.S., and to Europe, South America, and Australia. With 10 million users around the world who have taken 26 million rides on e-pay electric scooters and traditional pedal-yourself bikes, Lime is growing fast.
Intrigued? Here’s what you need to know to get started using Lime’s services.
How Do I Use a Lime Scooter or Bike?
Before you can ride a Lime scooter or bike, you have to register and set up an account with the proper requirements, like a driver’s license (scooter only), a method of payment, and other personal information. You’re going to need a smartphone for this, or you’re going to be walking.
Once the formalities are done, unlocking a Lime bike using the smartphone works exactly the same way as it does for a Lime scooter. Except, naturally, you provide the propulsion. Regardless of your selection method to Lime, put on a helmet (some municipalities may not require a helmet when riding a bike or scooter, but it’s plain good common sense). Same for eye protection; motorcyclists wear them religiously for darned good reasons.
After stepping on the e-scooter and kicking off from a stop, depress the thumb throttle on the right handgrip to apply power. The left side handgrip works the brake just like a bicycle. Turning the scooter requires the same principle as on a bike; lean into the turn and the scooter will follow your lead.
A Lime scooter is a motorized vehicle, so you must follow all traffic laws, including restrictions from using sidewalks. There are a few extra ones, too. Rocks and small debris that don’t pose a threat to a car or even a full-sized motorcycle mean serious business when you have small, 8-inch-diameter wheels, so avoid road hazards. Finally, park the scooter carefully, away from pedestrian traffic, driveways, service entrances, and private property, rest it on its kickstand, and lock it back up using the smartphone app.
This last part of Liming has become a nuisance in some cities. Bikes and scooters from all e-pay short-distance mobility companies have been found littering sidewalks in both San Francisco and L.A., to the extent that it’s caused a backlash with some residents who’ve taken to vandalizing them, even tossing them in trash cans.
In addition, some cities are taking action regarding broken scooters littering their landscape. Some large players have pulled out of the dockless bike-sharing market in places like Washington, D.C., due to new city-specific regulations. Time will tell if this affects the scooter-sharing market, too.
But the positives for the user remain. Scooters are easier to use than bikes since they require no real physical effort. And depending on what you wear to work or for play, it’s far easier to ride a motorized scooter than a conventional bike, because you merely stand up and need not pedal.
What is a LimePod car, and how do you use one?
With its scooter and bike operations rapidly expanding, Lime now wants to compete head-to-head in the car-sharing market. The company aims to have 500 white-and-green striped “LimePod” cars in operation in Seattle early this year and plans to expand to other cities once Seattle is launched.
For its car-sharing operation, Lime adapts the smartphone-based unlocking feature used by customers to access its bikes and scooters. To unlock the car, you simply scan the QR code on the sides or rear of the vehicle, and then you’re in. This is a bit easier than entering PIN codes on your phone or into the car’s dashboard, as with some other car-sharing systems. The car’s hard-key remains in the ignition at all times.
Lime uses the Fiat 500 as its vehicle of choice, a small, cheeky, little runabout that offers plenty of room for two. There is a back seat, but room is somewhat limited. Also, the 500 isn’t known to be the safest car you can drive. It’s light, and its crash-test ratings are pretty pathetic. The company equips each LimePod car with a good smartphone holder, though.
User requirements for LimePod include a valid driver’s license, a minimum age of 21, and a minimum of one year of driving history. Plus, of course, you’ll need to set up an account through the app on your smartphone.
Lime takes care of insurance and gas, like most other services. As with Lime’s bikes and scooters, you must also photograph the vehicle at the end of the trip. Lime offers the cheapest car-sharing rates in Seattle – only 40 cents per minute – where others charge 45 cents per minute. But there is also a $1.00 charge to unlock a LimePod.
Though adding cars to city streets with the top goal being a reduction in congestion and emissions seems at odds within itself, some studies have shown results.
But the reality of Seattle actually supporting a huge jump in sharable vehicles is not a given. Seattle’s already home to the biggest free-floating car-sharing fleet in the country. Car2Go alone accounts for 127,000 member cars in Seattle. (Seattle does not permit scooter-sharing services, citing that the practice is unsafe.)
So, Lime’s car-sharing advantage (in Seattle only, for the time being) is really cost. At 40 cents per minute, it’s cheaper than the other car-sharing services in Seattle. Combine this with the $1.00 charge to unlock the vehicle, and being limited to just one small and not terribly good model of car, and the LimePod offer is equal parts sweet and sour.