9 Replies to “Podcast #58: Ready for Light Rail”

  1. Hi Lizz! Glad to hear you join one of the podcasts.

    On requiring the bikes to return to the activity centers, I agree that it makes sense because it’s a way to maintain sufficient ‘density’ of bikes within the activity centers without flooding Bellevue with thousands of bikes and then dispersing them into the low density neighborhoods. It’s not that the suburban neighborhoods do not want bike-share or cannot be served, but that it’s hard to serve them in a sustainable way. Limiting bike-share to the activity centers seems like a smart way to ensure success, especially for a pilot.

    I liked the comment about “stitching” Seattle and the Eastside together. I agree that the political & social impact of East Link will be profound.

    1. I think that persons who ride bicycles regularly will purchase their own bike. I see bike sharing as primarily a way to ride home if transit isn’t running, to carry packages home when one can’t carry them, or to use when one is separated from their bicycle (like visitors). For that reason, rebalancing them towards activity centers makes sense.

      1. It also makes a ton of sense if you work, but don’t live, in one of the activity centers and want to use a bike for a midday trip.

        A regular user I could imagine using bikeshare instead of buying a bike could be someone who lives in a small apartment and doesn’t want to deal with bike storage. In that case, the appeal is similar to car share – don’t need to find long term parking.

  2. One of my concerns about Bellevue bike share that hasn’t really been discussed is pricing. The only E-assist bikeshare currently in Seattle (and Bellevue’s planned rules would allow e-bikes only) charges $1 + $0.15/minute. While this price point is certainly reasonable for people making an occasional trip or two, those that want to use the service for their daily commute are going to find out that those minutes add up fast.

    A low barrier to entry for first time users is certainly important (and not having it was one of Pronto’s biggest mistakes), at the same, you cannot neglect the frequent users, and if you want to really drive usage, you have to have some sort of membership option to make it possible to ride these bikes to/from work every day, without breaking the bank, ideally costing less than driving one’s own car.

    As of this post, LimeBike’s membership option specifically excludes e-bikes (the only bikeshare bikes to be allowed in Bellevue), so every rider is going to have to pay the full price for every single ride, with almost no discount for frequent users.

    I did some basic math to figure out what the cost of using an electric Lime Bike for a daily commute would be, and it’s not good. Assuming a 12 mph average speed, 2 trips/weekday, and 20 weekdays/month, the total monthly cost of using an electric LimeBike for a daily commute to/from work is as follows:
    2 miles (one way) – $100/month
    4 miles (one way) – $160/month
    6 miles (one way) – $220/month
    8 miles (one way) – $280/month.

    My personal commute is about 8 miles each way. And, while I have done it on an electric Lime Bike a few times, I use the service sparingly (about one one-way commute trip/week max) to keep the costs down. I like the service, it’s just not worth $280/month to me.

    Ultimately, if the service is going to get good use, they’re going to have to come up with some of membership scheme, ideally one that gets some sort of subsidy from major employers. A negotiated discount with major employers on behalf of their employees would do wonders.

    1. Spin has rolled out an unlimited monthly pass for $29, and Limebike is working on something similar. I imagine a higher price point for ebikes.

      But if you are riding the bike 16 miles per day, every day, shouldn’t you just buy your own ebike? They sell for as little as $500 on Amazon these days. Seems like it would pay for itself in no time.

      1. Lime has that program at the same price point (LimePrime), but it excludes e-bikes, as asdf2 said. I wrote their customer support asking if they’d do a LimePrime+ at a higher price point and include e-bikes, but have not heard back.

      2. The argument against buying your own bike is the same argument against buying your own car. If you use bikeshare, you 1) don’t have to deal with maintenance or risk of damage, theft, etc. and 2) don’t have to deal with parking, which might be key if your apartment and/or workplace doesn’t have convenient bike parking.

  3. I’m guessing that the folks at Lime are working on it, but it’s harder to come up with the right pricing model. They need to decide what to charge, what the limits are, both in terms of number of minutes and geography. Without geo-limits, unlimited ride memberships would result in many more bikes ending up in random, far-flung places.

    1. Just thought I’d point out that LimePrime isn’t unlimited, even for pedal-bikes. It’s 100 rides / month, which to me at the moment seems effectively unlimited, but I could imagine hitting that limit if I used it in place of every > 0.5 mi walk I did. Your point still mostly stands, of course.

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