North Carolina

Charlotte becomes the latest city where Lime is ditching dockless bikes. Here’s why

Lime introduces electric scooters in Charlotte

Lime, which already offers dockless bikes in Charlotte, is rolling out electric scooters in the city on Tuesday, May 8. It will be Lime's third city for electric scooters on the East Coast, after Miami and Washington, D.C.
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Lime, which already offers dockless bikes in Charlotte, is rolling out electric scooters in the city on Tuesday, May 8. It will be Lime's third city for electric scooters on the East Coast, after Miami and Washington, D.C.

Bike shares are out. Scooters are in.

That’s the case for at least a few ride-share companies around Charlotte including Lime, which has phased out its bright green bikes over the past several weeks.

Lime launched its dockless, GPS-enabled bikes in Charlotte in late 2017, as did other companies such as Ofo, Mobike and Spin. The next year, in a pilot program with the city, Lime put out 400 of its e-scooters throughout the city. Two other companies, Bird and Spin, also launched scooters in Charlotte.

Spin started with about 500 bikes in Charlotte, but as of early December, the company’s now operating only electric scooters here.

Lime, known as LimeBike until last May, has similarly pulled its bikes from other cities, including Wake Forest and Durham last month, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

LimeBike Model
A LimeBike model Kala Moreno Parra Courtesy of LimeBike

Despite arriving in Charlotte six months after dockless bikes, electric scooters quickly supplanted bike shares in popularity. Since November 2017, there have been just over 269,900 dockless bike trips made in Charlotte, according to the Charlotte Department of Transportation. Since May 2018, there have been over 963,900 e-scooter trips.

Lime’s change in Charlotte comes because people simply prefer electric scooters to bikes. Riders are “voting with their feet,” Lime spokesman CJ Shaw said in an email.

“The best way for us to maximize the positive impacts of Lime in local communities is to demonstrate our agility and willingness to adjust based on patterns of preference, utilization and needs,” Shaw said.

Charlotte City Council approved new rules for e-scooters in January. Those rules capped scooter speeds at 15 mph, banned scooters from sidewalks in the densest part of uptown (an area bounded by Stonewall, Seventh, College and Church streets) and lifted Charlotte’s 400 scooters per-company cap.

Charlotte will also start charging e-scooter companies differently than it has in the past.

Instead of a fixed annual fee per scooter like most other cities have done, Charlotte will use “dynamic pricing” to charge variable monthly fees to encourage what the city terms “good behavior.” This includes wearing helmets and parking near transit stops, the city has said.

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As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.


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