With one season nearly complete for the LimeBike system, City leaders are proclaiming it a huge success in terms of helping residents get around the city.
Transportation Planner Jay Monty said they regularly analyze the ridership and have found it’s quite higher than they would have expected.
“It’s been a tremendous success,” he said. “The total number of rides has been around 30,000 rides since it launched in April. That’s a big number. We have tracked 7,000 individual riders that use the system. That’s a great percentage for a new system. Riders have logged about 20,000 miles ridden.”
LimeBike is a dockless bike rental system where users activate the bikes using their smartphones, paying the fee via the phone and leaving the bikes on an appropriate sidewalk when done.
The bikes have been in place since the official launch in the spring, with Everett being one of the first communities in the metro area to adopt Lime. Since that time, many other communities are also using Lime as a dockless biking option. Other systems, such as BlueBike in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, use a docking system whereas bikes must be taken from the dock and returned to the dock.
Monty said they have been surprised by the short trips that Lime has been used for. He said many of the trips are less than a half-mile and many are also coming from young people – likely going to school or sports practices.
“What is fascinating is the individual trips are short,” he said. “We’re seeing a half-mile or less and 12 minutes. A lot of young people we are seeing using them for school trips and jobs in town. The thing we thought is that it would be recreational and on Sundays and people would use them on the bike path. Consistently, though, the widest usage is not recreational and not on Sunday…What that says is there are people taking these bikes to work and school.”
He said the highest ridership, Monty said, came on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He said it was quite evident people were using the bikes as a transportation service and not for a recreational activity.
Also, Monty said they quietly introduced e-bikes to the system over the summer – which is a bike with a small motor to help propel a rider easier. There are about 20 or 30 e-bikes in Everett, as opposed to about 150 regular bikes. The rate of riding those bikes, Monty said, was quite high.
He said the e-bikes were averaging about four rides per day, and about 4,000 total rides since being introduced.
“They are very popular,” he noted.
The e-bikes are not scooters, but have a battery pack above the back wheel that allows it to propel the bicycle.
As far as the locations, Monty said they get a “heat” map every day from Lime showing where the bikes are at and where they’ve been used. There is no particular hot spot, he said, but they are being used all over the city.
“What we’re seeing is they are everywhere,” he said. “You couldn’t look at these maps and say there aren’t places they aren’t being used, aside from Hospital Hill, for obvious reasons.
By contract, LimeBike will take up the bikes for the winter after the first snow. They will be back in the spring, however.
City ready to embark on BlueBike system, joining Boston, Cambridge and Somerville
City officials announced this week that they are only days away from agreeing to join the BlueBike system – a bike rental system that uses docks and already is heavily used between the communities of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.
“We are in the process of signing the contracts today and next week,” said Transportation Planner Jay Monty. “It’s working its way around City Hall to be approved. We will look to launch them in late April or early May. We’ll have a total of 8-10 stations. We have to go through a process of determining where to place the stations this winter.”
He said Encore Boston Harbor is sponsoring two of the stations on Lower Broadway, but the City would have to pay for the remaining docking stations – which are anticipated to go on the main corridors.
The BlueBike expansion to Everett will allow a new option for riders looking to go longer distances, perhaps into Boston, Cambridge or to Sullivan Square. Riders can pick up a BlueBike in Everett, ride to a station in Boston, and leave the bike there. Then they could do the same coming back. Currently, that option doesn’t exist.
Monty said they hoped to expand the network with time to provide even more stations in Everett as funds become available.
“I think it will start to fill a gap that exists now,” he said.