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Ready to roll: LimeBike comes to ECU

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LimeBike is a new, affordable form of transportation available for students and faculty on ECU campus. The smart bike unlocks and activates by a smartphone and is tracked and monitored by a GPS, so the bicycle is unable to be stolen. LimeBike is also available to non-students.


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Making a quick trip across East Carolina University’s campus just got a little easier, now that a ride-sharing service is in high gear.

LimeBike offers students, staff and faculty the chance to cycle wherever they need to go. And they do not have to worry about bike racks, padlocks or leaving their bike unattended.

LimeBike is a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of dock-free smart bike-sharing services. The company launched in January 2017 and now operates in 46 U.S. markets and two European cities.

ECU is the second location in Pitt County offering the service. Farmville launched its LimeBike service last week.

As of October 2017, the ride-share service had more than 150,000 registered users. And in select markets, the company has introduced electric bikes and scooters.

Dan Hemme, 29, a current ECU graduate student and avid touring cyclist, learned about the company last summer.

“I'm a touring cyclist, which means I ride very long distances at very slow speeds,” Hemme said. “It's sort of a form of travel by bicycle as opposed to road racing or mountain biking. My little world is touring and sightseeing essentially.

“I've always been a big fan of bicycling, a huge proponent of cycling, and over the summer I was invited to sit in on LimeBike's presentation to ECU staff,” he said.

With more than 45 markets nationwide, LimeBike provides solar powered “smart bikes” equipped with GPS units and scannable QR codes which allow cyclists to locate and unlock available bikes through a mobile app.

“Smart bikes mean they are solar powered,” Hemme said. “Every bicycle's GPS unit is powered by a battery and that battery is charged by a solar panel that's on the bicycle itself. So, it powers itself. Its front light is powered by a dynamo hub, so when you pedal you're generating the energy that lights up the bike. Every bike comes equipped with GPS so it can be easily identified. All you have to do is scan it, unlock it and go.”

Hemme said that LimeBike recognizes that not all students at ECU have smartphones.

“LimeBike operates through an app and that's how you identify where bicycles are on the map, but we are always looking to provide more affordable and equitable transportation to as many people as possible,” he said. “We are looking at ways of serving populations who may not have access to a line of credit or to a smartphone. Those are things that are on our radar.”

Currently, the LimeBike app is available for download on i0S and Android mobile devices. Buyers link their credit card to the app and scan a QR code to unlock the bike. The price for a 30 minute ride usually is $1, but for college students, faculty and staff the cost of a half-hour bike ride is 50 cents.

“What LimeBike and what bicycles represent is an affordable, environmentally friendly, equitable transportation option,” Hemme said. “(If) the cost of driving a vehicle or owning a vehicle are cost-prohibitive, this is an attractive option.”

“For students looking to be more environmentally friendly while they're getting around campus and the community, this is an attractive offer for them as well,” he said.

Hemme said the bikes are available for rent 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even with high use, maintaining the fleet of green and yellow bicycles is not a concern, he said.

“We have a local operations team and we can identify if a bicycle needs maintenance,” Hemme said. “Our operations team is on hand and available to pick up those bicycles and to do any repairs or maintenance that's necessary and redeploy them into the field.”

So far, the reaction from students has been positive, he said.

“We've had a lot of enthusiasm from the students that are on the campus,” Hemme said. “They are very excited to see the bikes deployed on campus. We're excited to be able to provide the service.”

To learn more about LimeBike, visit www.limebike.com or follow the company on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com and 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR