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Pedal power: Farmville is first rural city to welcome LimeBike

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A LimeBike is parked outside of Rise & Grind in Farmville. The city's newest business will allow customers to rent a bike to ride around town by accessing a code through their smartphones.

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By ANGELA HARNE
The Farmville Enterprise

Monday, February 12, 2018

FARMVILLE — A new business is peddling into town.

LimeBike will open shop in Farmville in the near future. The company, which manages dockless bicycles, is launching its ride and pay program at East Carolina University in less than a month.

LimeBike plans to also supply Farmville's city limits with a dozen bicycles and set up its warehouse and maintenance shop in town.

Farmville will become the first small town in the United States to launch the LimeBike program.

The program is simple and easy to use. Customers must download the free LimeBike app onto their smartphone. Customers then locate a LimeBike, which are strategically placed throughout town in highly trafficked areas. The bicycles come enabled with GPS and 3G technology, allowing the user to locate a bicycle.

Using a QR code on their smartphone, they scan a license plate on the bicycle, which unlocks the bicycle for usage. The customer can then ride the bicycle to a destination or several. Cost is minimal. One can ride a LimeBike for 30 minutes for a mere dollar. College students also can access a LimeBike at discounted rates.

Once the user's destination is reached, the customer simply rescans the plate to lock the bicycle in place. This also turns off the charging timer.

LimeBike strives to provide a convenient, equitable option to transportation, while improving the quality of life with a "fun, safe, healthy option," according to Dan Hemme, the operational logistics manager of LimeBike.

LimeBike "aims to revolutionize mobility in cities and campuses by empowering residents with cleaner, more efficient and affordable transportation options that improve urban sustainability," Hemme said.

LimeBike picked Farmville since it is a "growing cycling community," Hemme said.

"Farmville has made great strides ... and is on the leading edge of a growing community ... we are not going somewhere that won't be a success, and we are looking forward to being here," Hemme told the Farmville Board of Commissioners at Monday's board meeting.

LimeBike requested permission to operate its dockless bike program in Farmville, which the commissioners granted by unanimous vote.

LimeBike will launch the program in town once town staff identify areas where they wish to park bicycles and areas where the bicycles may not be parked, Hemme said.

A dozen bicycles will be placed throughout town on sidewalks, right-of-ways and streets for easy access. The fleet will grow depending on demand, Hemme said.

"This is unique to our community," said Farmville Manager David Hodgkins, adding LimeBike programs are typically found in larger cities and in college towns. "This is another way to differentiate ourselves from our neighbors."

In addition to a unique service, its "a new business in town creating jobs," Hodgkins said.

LimeBike will hire a bicycle mechanic and staff to move the bicycles around town to high usage areas. The company plans to hire locals, Hemme said.

The company is in the process of piloting prepaid options in various cities to allow customers who do not have a credit card or smartphone access to their program. The pilot programs feature prepaid scratch-off cards and a prepay by phone option. Hemme hopes to bring a prepay option to Farmville, too.

"We want to be able to extend our program to all," he said.

Farmville Commissioner Jamin Dixon made the motion to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Neutron Holdings LLC (LimeBike).

The program is at no cost to the town.

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