The City of Everett and LimeBike announced the launch of the dockless bike rental service last Thursday, June 7, in a ceremony at City Hall that featured City officials, biking advocates and staff from the Wellness Center.
Already, the lime green colored bikes have hit the streets of Everett with numerous riders utilizing them at a price of $2 per hour – though a promotion running now allows a $5 credit for rides through Dec. 31. The launch of 300 bikes in Everett is part of a regional network of launches that has already happened in Malden and Chelsea. LimeBike was chosen by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) as the preferred dockless bike company for the region earlier this year. Bike systems with docks also exist in other locales (such as HubWay/BlueBike), and the City of Everett has said it is working to also provide that service in the future too.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he was excited to launch the bicycle program, and he was so excited that he jumped on one of the bikes and took a few laps around City Hall.
“You may not think so, but I can move fast on these bikes,” he joked with those assembled on Thursday. In all seriousness, though, he said it was an important cog in the larger wheel of reprogramming transportation in Everett.
“Providing alternative and active transportation for Everett residents is key to reducing congestion, air pollution and growing economic opportunity, health and well-being in the City,” Mayor DeMaria said. “I’m excited to be partnering with LimeBike to bring bike sharing to the City that will help us achieve these goals.”
Scott Mullen, Lime Director of Expansion for New England, was present on Thursday and he said it was exciting to be in Everett.
“Launching in Everett is particular exciting because the City has proven to be an innovator already in the transportation space,” he said. “The Bus Rapid Transit they did last year was so simple and so groundbreaking at the same time. Everett has shown itself to be a leader in transportation and now they are continuing that by adding dockless biking.”
Steve Winslow, of Bike to the Sea (and also a Malden City Councilor), said Malden launched earlier this spring and is seeing upwards of 400 rides per day.
He said they are seeing people in both communities choose LimeBike who may not ride a bike otherwise.
“A lot of cities like Malden and Everett have a lot of three-family homes and it doesn’t make it easy to keep a bike,” he said. “We’re seeing a whole new range of people that are now bicycling to get around on these bikes. Usually about 1 percent of people travel by bike around here. It gives people another option. It can really help people to have another option to get around the city or to get home and not have to wait for a bus that comes less frequently on the weekend. It’s also very easy to use.”
Transportation Planner Jay Monti said the more options available, the better.
“This system is a great way to give opportunities for mobility to folks who don’t rely on a car to get around,” he said.
Already, however, there have been concerns.
City Councilor Fred Capone called on Monday night for the City to revoke the contract with LimeBike because the bikes were causing a problem all over the city.
Indeed, the system does allow people to leave the bikes on the sidewalk, and LimeBike is responsible for corralling the bikes each day into designated areas. They are also responsible for moving unwanted bikes.
Many councilors said they got numerous calls all weekend.
Mayor DeMaria said anyone who has a problem with LimeBike can call 3-1-1 and it will go directly to the company for action.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) announced on April 13 that LimeBike was one of the two vendors selected to provide dockless bike share services for 15 participating communities in Metro Boston, including Malden, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Chelsea, Everett, Lexington, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Needham, Newton, Revere, Waltham, Watertown, and Winthrop.
Currently available in 60 markets, Lime is the leading American smart mobility company. All of its bikes are GPS and 3G-enabled, making it simple for riders to find, unlock and pick up a nearby vehicle using their smartphone. When the ride is finished, riders simply end the ride with the Lime mobile app and responsibly park by the street curb, or at a bike rack