A Jump bike. Credit: Jump

CNBC:

Uber Technologies CEO Dara Khosrowshahi outside the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the company’s IPO, May 10, 2019.

Uber is leading a $170 million investment round in Lime, the electric scooter and bike rental company announced Thursday.

Bain Capital Ventures, Alphabet and separately its venture capital arm GV are also participating in the financing round, Lime said.

Under the deal, Uber will transfer its own electric bike and scooter division called Jump to Lime and the companies will further integrate their apps. Lime global head of operations and strategy Wayne Ting will become CEO of Lime while outgoing CEO Brad Bao will become chairman.

Lime had recently suspended bike operations here in Seattle and was in the process of switching to a scooter-only offering once the city’s scooter pilot was in place. Lime’s valuation has dropped by 80%, according to The Information ($).

Now it appears that Lime bikes will be back and Uber’s JUMP brand will be disappearing. I think most people agreed that the JUMP bike experience was superior (I know I felt that way), so it’s good to read that Lime’s new CEO agrees.

Despite a huge drop in bookings due to the coronavirus, Uber still has $10B in cash on hand to try and be the last one standing in the shared economy business: the company is reportedly looking at taking over Grubhub as well.

Meanwhile, Lime is optimistic about post-COVID prospects:

[CEO Wayne] Ting’s bet is that people are going to emerge from the pandemic wanting more socially distanced transit options, like bikes and scooters, instead of opting for crowded transit options, a stance echoed by rival Bird.

Already in some of its restarted cities, like Berlin and Columbus, Ohio, Lime is seeing average trip fares go up as people ride scooters for longer distances. Seoul is back to nearly all-time highs, Ting said.

62 Replies to “With Uber’s investment, Lime is getting back into the local bike share game”

  1. I this why Jump bikes have abruptly disappeared in Seattle? As an essential worker (Metro operator) whose shift ends 2 miles from where it begins, I’d been relying on Jump bikes to return to the base.

  2. At the current prices, Lime (and Jump) have gotten just too expensive to ride more than a small number of times or for more than a very small distance. At $0.30/min and 10 minutes to go one mile (including stoplights), the fare adds up to about $1.50/mile. For comparison, riding in an Uber car also costs about $1.50/mile.

    At this cost level, renting a bike almost never makes economic sense. If you need to ride on anything resembling a regular basis, it is far, far cheaper to simply buy your your bike (or e-scooter) and ride that. For occasional one-off trips, you may as well just ride the car service if you’re going to be paying the same price, anyway.

    It is true that for extremely short trips, the bike service can still come in cheaper than the car service, due to minimum fare rules, but those trips tend to be short enough where it’s feasible to just walk or jog for free.

    The fact that, even that these prices, Lime has still been losing money indicates to be a fundamental flaw in the business model – between the needs of charging, maintenance, and re-balancing, every bike trip requires, on average, nearly as many vehicle miles in a car or van as what the customer is traveling on the bike itself. This means that in order to not lose money, a bike ride for n miles has to cover the cost of a car ride for close to n miles with a paid driver. At which point, you immediately lose the business of consumers who simply want to get from point A to point B, because if the bike and car end up costing nearly the same, you may as well ride in the car.

    What’s left are customers who simply want to ride around on a bike and don’t really care where they’re going, but they don’t have a bike and don’t want the hassle of buying or renting one from a bike store. Not only is this not a lot, but it also relegates the service to a mere novelty, no longer serious transportation.

    1. If you’re making the entire trip by bike, owning your own bike is the way to go. But if you are taking a bus or train into Downtown or Capitol Hill or the U District it is easier to get a bike there, rather than bringing it on the bus or train from home.

      In comparison to a ride in a car, a short-term bike rental would make sense if a bike trip was faster. Suppose if we changed our priorities by allocating more street space to bikes rather than cars. Someday, maybe some American city will actually do this. I’m not optimistic.

      Otherwise, I agree, this whole business is not really viable.

      1. The problem is, doing that every day, twice a day on a Lime bike is still very expensive. Even at 1 mile/6 minutes each way, you’re still looking at a bike fare that costs more than the train fare, but without the option to get a discount through a monthly pass.

        Ultimately, the cheap solution is to walk or jog that last mile if it’s short enough. Barring that, people can buy a second bike to park overnight at the train station. Lots of people do the latter in Copenhagen, and it does work, although the key is both lots of bike parking and very cheap bikes, made possible by flat terrain.

    2. I’ve never had much hope that this would ever be profitable as a stand-alone business. With the virus era, it may be even less profitable as many people are afraid to touch anything. It’s like trying to rent specialized kitchen appliances like mixers for a profit — requiring substantially more cost in annual labor than in the capital investment.

      I think it’s going to require community subsidy to ever be financially sustainable. That could be in the form of taxes, community association fees, partnering with a non-profit organization like the boy/girl scouts for low-cost labor or some other way. I just remain skeptical that it will survive on its own.

      Without a subsidy, I think it’s sustainability will probably require that it becomes offered through a business that would provide complementary benefit from offering it like a grocery, pharmacy or coffee house. I guess you could put Uber in that category but the complementary benefit seems more tangential.

      1. Why would we want to subsidize a bad idea like bike/scooter shares? They’re little more than rideable litter. The city’s pedestrian landscape would be much better without them.

      2. Oh I am not advocating a subsidy or community funding! I’m just observing that it seems like a doomed business venture without it.

      3. The community subsidy should be a significant increase in safe biking infrastructure. The damage to public transit is going to take years to overcome and increased SOV transportation shouldn’t be the only viable option after permanent transit cuts are announced.

      4. Even with better bicycle infrastructure — and lets be frank here that most bicycle infrastructure is for safety more than convenience so most places are reachable by bicycle already (unlike transit service) — this business venture seems financially unsustainable. If bicycling is made more safe and that makes it more attractive, I expect people will just buy more bicycles for their own use.

        It’s akin to the demise of video stores and the rise of streaming services. It’s not the demand for this mode of travel (akin to the demand for films), but in the logistics of delivery.

        Subsidies are a political issues. Private business ventures are economic issues. While private business ventures can be affected by political decisions, I don’t see that here.

        Maybe if it was substantially more expensive than owning a bicycle through taxing everyone $200 a year just for owning a bicycle, I could see bike share being more potentially profitable, for a theoretical example. I’m not saying this to advocate for it, but to put forth an economic perspective at the relationship between business and policy.

      5. For me, the ultimate goal would be for every household to own several bikes and use them extensively because safe infrastructure exists for biking and the neighborhoods are scaled to be convenient for biking.

      6. For me, the ultimate goal would be for every household to own several bikes and use them extensively because safe infrastructure exists for biking and the neighborhoods are scaled to be convenient for biking.

        Nice goal, but it has absolutely nothing to do with bikeshare. Bikeshare users can be separated into three categories:

        1) Those who own bikes.
        2) Those who don’t own a bike, and have no interest in owning a bike.
        3) Those who wish they could own a bike, but don’t.

        The third groups is a teeny, tiny, group of users.

    3. It seems like Lime didn’t think through the maintenance cost when they made the pivot from pedal bikes to pedal-electric bikes. Perhaps if they would have stayed pedal only, their business model might have succeeded.

      1. I don’t think it’s so much repair cost, more of the following:
        1) Electric bikes cost more to replace than pedal bikes, but don’t last any longer, since they’re exposed to the same weather, plus risk of vandalism/abuse.
        2) Electric bikes require their batteries to be kept charged. This means every 20-30 miles of use, a paid staff member has to physically visit the bike to charge the battery. Paying people to drive around is expensive, and this cost adds up. With pedal bikes, this is not an issue – until somebody complains about a bike being broken or improperly parked, they can just leave it alone, indefinitely. Note that with a docked system, you can simply connect the docking stations to the power grid, and nearly all the labor costs associated with keeping the batteries charged goes away.

        This is even a larger issue with scooters, whose smaller batteries require more frequent charging. Lime’s business model has been to try to use cheap labor through the gig economy to do it. But, at the end of the day, it’s still labor and it’s still expensive.

        It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if you want bike share to be cheap to operate, it is necessary to keep the amount of driving around the city to a minimum. If I were the CEO, I would pay careful attention to the ratio of staff-car-miles to customer-bike miles because being profitable with low fares is fundamentally impossible unless this ratio is low. If the ratio starts to approach 1.0 and your drivers get paid similar to Uber drivers, this means a bike fare has to be as high as an Uber car ride for the same trip, just to be able to pay the drivers, not even including the cost of the bikes. That’s bad news is the goal is to ever attract a non-trivial modeshare of the transportation market.

      2. Some other tidbits on bikeshare economics:

        1) Fleet replacement costs – a vehicle which costs 2% that of a car, but lasts only 2% as long as a car must generate daily revenue similar to a rental car, just to pay for its own replacement cost. Bikeshare bikes cost around $300-$400 each and last no more than a couple of months. Check, check.

        2) Keeping the amount of staff driving down requires behaving in a way that cities don’t like. It means no fleet rebalancing, plus very slow response times to remove broken or illegally parked bikes. Basically, you never want to send a staff member out just to retrieve one bike, it’s only worth it when they can do several bikes on the same trip. You would also probably want a small service area that cherry picks small sections of the city with the highest demand, ignoring the rest.

    4. It’s remarkable how much money they’re burning through considering how expensive these bikes are to use. I personally look forward to the day they give up and these bikes end up in the bargin bin at Goodwill.

  3. Some lady in some article I read some time ago said something like cities should eliminate fees and fleet size limits for bike and scooter rentals, and should start subsidizing them so more people have access to them. Then it would go from niche to mainstream.

    I think we need a Sound Transit-like agency for bike and scooter infrastructure. An agency that would build aerial bike paths all over the place.

    1. Seattle and Bellevue have made some streets local-only to expand the bike/ped/scooter infrastructure. Those are you bike paths in all but aerial.

      What does a Sound Transit-like agency mean? Something that spans three counties? Has a larger tax authority than local transit agencies? Is more likely to get a yes vote? How would you convince the legislature to create it? If Sound Transit is so good, why not add it to Sound Transit?

      Starting with aerial is choosing the mode first. We should start with the need first: what are the corridors, what should the travel time and trail quality be, where specifically are we deficient? Make a map of that and publish it for validation. Then decide on the mode. The advantage of aerial is bypassing stoplights, a view, and not competing with other ground-based land uses. The disadvantage is an elevated concrete structure that people will complain about.
      An aerial way may make sense in some places but surely not everywhere.

      Biking is such low speed that I don’t see the need for a multi-county approach. If it takes 2 hours to cross Seattle why does it matter if the design changes at the city borders?

      1. Sound Transit-like not so much in terms of multi-county, but more in terms of we’re going to create this new, separate public entity that is tasked with building an elevated bike network throughout the greater Seattle area. I believe, there is a large, untapped potential number of bike riders who would ride if such a thing existed. No amount of green paint and planter boxes will get them to ride, otherwise.

        Another idea. Make bikeshare use completely free for the homeless, and people who have the virus. Free-up space on public transit for essential trips, and encourage people who are sick to distance from others when traveling.

    2. I can see it now. STRIKE, the Sound Transit bikeshare network with exclusive right-of-way. When it opens in 2035 it will be perfect provided riders are happy to end up a half mile or more from their final destinations.

  4. This is good news, given all the transit cuts that are coming next month. I went ahead and purchased a car yesterday, so I can more easily get around. I forgot how liberating it is to drive. It’s nice not having to share a ride with strangers. Bikes are good for those that can’t afford a car.

    1. I may eventually succumb to that myself. Although, I’m hoping not to and, if nothing else, every month a car purchase is postponed means another $200-300 saved, maybe more if a down stock market means this is the time to invest.

      In the meantime, I’ve been leaning on my electric bike as a car, using it to go anywhere too far to walk to, in lieu of the bus. Even at 20 mph, door-to-door travel travel times are often as good as or better than the bus, even for one-way distances in the 10-15 mile range. And I don’t have to worry about which bus trips are or are not running.

      I also expect to be renting cars significantly more often this summer than in years past, possibly 2-4 weekend days each month. If it gets to the point where my monthly rental car costs start to approach a car payment for several months in a row, at that point, I will seriously consider a car purchase.

    2. Good and bad, John, news is in the checking account number of the beholder.

      Since Intercity Transit went Advanced-Arrangement only, my gasoline, insurance, and car maintenance providers are getting clobbered by the shower of wind-fall. Also hope my de-preciation beneficiaries ap-preciate the gift.

      For its own duration, a worldwide catastrophe has finally granted us true automotive freedom by removing just about everything else from the roads. Sadly, though, when the danger’s past, both our cars will mainly offer us a parking place without refreshment or restroom.

      And liable to a heavy ticket if State Patrol sees us use our phone to call our boss at any time after the hour we first get stuck. Guess Freedom Isn’t Free, is it? Somebody like a judge or State legislator needs to write a “phoning while motionless” exception to a rule I otherwise support.

      So for now, no complaint over your car, or apology for mine. Just so when the roads open up again, nobody’s succeeded in permanently destroying the transit system that’ll return to being the main positive item in my car’s maintenance column.

      Which I’ll also put forth serious short-term effort to be sure includes reserved lanes and preempted signals for my buses and railcars when they’re returned to me. For getting my car out of your way? Believe me, pleasure will be all mine.

      Mark Dublin

    3. And why, Dear John, did you just have to come to Seattle Transit Blog to bloviate about your purchase. Is it to “own the libs”? Is it to make us all demand, yet again, that Frank include a “Block” button?

      Because, you know what, we don’t give an yingflay uckfay about your new car.

  5. This feels like a last attempt at consolidation to stave off failure for all the scooter/bike rental firms, and almost surely means Lime is in very deep trouble.

    One missing element in the announcement from Lime is how much cash is being invested. The headline number is $170 million, but that includes Uber giving Lime all of the JUMP assets. If Uber were putting in very much cash, they would probably have said so.

    Uber’s investment is structured as a convertible loan. So they get a share of the assets even in bankruptcy alongside other debt holders. If Lime is able to turn a profit, Uber can convert to equity and harvest the upside.

    In the meantime, Uber gets to separate the auto lines of businesses which have a path to profitability from the ongoing losses on bikes. So obviously, great for Uber. More like a Hail Mary play for Lime.

    1. Yeah. I’ve been trying to read the tea leaves on this one since details of the deal were first reported on a week ago. The VCs involved in this latest round of Lime funding must have access to some financial data/plans that us everyday schmos haven’t seen. The last funding round put a valuation around $2.4B; this round puts it at just over $500M. Lime says it currently has about $90M in cash and is burning thru about $20M per month. And still CEO Ting says he expects Lime to have positive cash flow sometime next year. I just don’t see it.

      Speaking of that convertible note, here are a few more tidbits:

      “As part of the deal, which is structured as a convertible loan, Uber will have an option to buy Lime outright in the coming years. Lime could also choose to proceed with an initial public offering or continue to fundraise privately, the spokesperson said.”

      https://www.ft.com/content/b1c17bc1-f75e-4e4e-93cb-7ba295cd264e

    2. Yes that was my read on it. They’re consolidating and at the same time moving bike share off Uber’s books and entirely onto Lime’s. So when it goes under it doesn’t look as bad.

      1. And Uber will have all the data, which many say is what drove the private bikeshare business in the first place. These companies just want that sweet, sweet data.

      2. The more I reflected on the deal after posting my comment above I started to think that this is really all just a balance sheet play by Uber (to spin off their Jump division as you’ve noted). I’d love to see the internal financials for Jump to see what their BS and IS for the last two years look like. I imagine that the subsidiary is sitting in a pretty significant negative equity position, but without seeing the internals I can only speculate on that. I know Uber had been intent on improving its BS in 2019 and accomplished that despite having a massive $8.5B operating loss for the year*. This tells me that they have reconsidered their position on Jump and now see it as a drag on the parent company and thus are willing to jettison the division in full for some sort of equity position in Lime. Without seeing additional details about the deal, it’s hard to say how this $170 million has been structured for each of the parties involved, but I doubt any cash from Uber/Jump was involved.

        *https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/UBER/uber-technologies/total-liabilities

  6. Sam, thank you for the opening to an Earth-shaking expose of the pernicious powers of closet Socialism. Though for “closet”…we really should substitute “Really Huge Garage.”

    Because the Tax-Theft you’re proposing for bicycles in the Greater Puget Sound Region? For the century since Dwight Eisenhower looked past German highways and saw Pearl Harbor, our Governments Federal and State have been doing it with total immunity for private cars!

    Well. Since disasters tend to occur in three’s, same could hold for their opposite. The National Defense Highway Act being Event One? Then of course the National Defense Transit Act is Two! And Three? Like you just said, but chain-drive coast to coast and border to border.

    And since fatal flaw of Socialism is socialists’ total inability to either agree what it is or stop arguing about it, at same Board Meeting when bikes get included, Sound Transit needs to become a worker owned cooperative.

    Because Eastside or Westside store, NOBOBY gets into Olympia Food Co-op without a 20 second hand-wash, plastic gloves and an M-word hanging on their ears.

    Like in Mark Dublin

  7. A joy, agreed one hundred percent. Every single rush hour, KING Radio verifies real-time that our region’s every Interstate, two-lane, and arterial is blocked solid.

    This morning’s airwaves are verifying that a certain west-side structure is causing climate-related effects up and down the whole Duwamish!

    Average Sikorsky Sky-Crane helicopter with an electromagnet the size of a manhole-cover on the end of its “long-line” will re-locate ten tons of truck, let one of those hundreds of thousands of motionless cars. So take heart, A Joy. This Rideable Litter is a temporary problem!

    Mark Dublin

  8. If anyone wants to say “good-bye” to the Jump e-bikes, they are parked at Terminal 5 and easily visible from Jack Block Park.

  9. Remember when Seattle was all excited, and thought we were different, and didn’t have to follow the science behind bikeshare systems, and private industry was going to save us (because it is just inherently better) and … and … Scooters!

    Remember that? Sure you do.

    Seattle should stop pretending we are different and special. We don’t need electric bikes. We don’t need bikes that can be parked anywhere. What we need are lots and lots of docking stations, close together so that you don’t have to walk too far to get a bike, or park one. Then you charge a small amount of money and lots of people will use them. In short, you need to do what every other city did when it comes to bikeshare, and then we will have a good bikeshare system.

    1. I’m not about to support private industry taking more public ROW with bike docks. If bikeshare companies want to build them on private property, that’s their choice. Public property should be for the public.

      1. You do realize that almost all bikeshare systems are actually operated by the city, right? Right?

        This is another example of the provincial assumptions made by folks when it comes to this, or many other issues. Holy cow, you don’t have to venture far (Portland or Vancouver) to find that yes, the local transportation agency operates the bikeshare. I even made a point — in my fairly short comment — about how private industry alone can not solve this problem. Yet you blindly assumed that all bikeshare systems are just like ours — controlled by a corporation.

        Jeesh.

      2. Well the article we’re commenting on IS referring to a for profit organization running our local bikeshare. That is kind of the topic. If it is provincial, that’s on STB. They wrote the story, after all.

        This city, the one we live in, has a robust method of providing people with free and low cost bicycles through an NPO. One in Rainier Valley, where the flat land and low income individuals are. We don’t need a bikeshare system to provide low cost alternatives to automobiles. We’ve got Bikeworks. If other cities had Bikeworks like NPOs, they wouldn’t need bikeshares either. Why use docks and potentially spread disease through shared use items when you can instead provide those items to every individual who can’t afford them?

        Bikeshares, docked or not, private or public, are a solution looking for a problem. That’s provincial behavior.

      3. @Mike Orr:

        http://www.bikeworks.org

        I assume the program A Joy is referring to is this one (quoted from their site):

        “Free Bike Giveaways

        The Bikes-for-All! program works with adults in our community and is designed to address the perceived obstacles to using a bike as transportation, and to cover the basics of becoming a confident cyclist on shared roadways. This program operates monthly and provides low-income adults from Seattle who do not have access to a bicycle, with a commuter bike complete with a lock, a helmet and lights along with quality bicycle safety instruction.”

        I do not know how they define “low-income”, nor what their ability to scale is (it looks to be volunteer/donation-based, so a huge spike in demand may overwhelm their resources). I hope A Joy can add detail here since it would be useful to understand the limitations of the approach.

      4. I keywords takes unwanted bicycles throughout the region that are donated. Volunteers extensively overhaul the bikes, and most are given away to those in need (the most valuable are sold at reduced market value to keep the NPO going). They have hundreds of bikes in various states of repair. They also have low cost bike maintenance classes, where people can learn everything from fixing a flat to respoking and rebranding a tire (often doing a first stage overhaul, with someone more trained rechecked everything).

        With hundreds of bikes available, they could take a spike in need fairly well. With just a slight bit of help, they could easily fill the gap for increased need. Their current site is somewhat crowded, so in an ideal world they’d need bigger digs. If the city simply collected the bikes they trash during homeless sweeps, Bikeworks could easily double their supply. While I’m against the sweeps, since they seem unstoppable, the least we could do is have them help other parts of the community.

      5. @A Joy: Thank you for the information, it is very useful.

        One question that could be raised: currently, my understanding is that only low-income people qualify for donations, but that everyone else can buy refurbished bikes at low prices. The question, I guess, is whether people who are above that low-income threshold would prefer the higher amortized cost of renting bikes (through whatever commercial offerings) vs. the higher up-front cost of a one-time refurbished bike purchase. My guess is that likely some will, but hopefully not enough to detract from the overall proposal to rely on such non-profits. Do you have any intuition of how that might play out? Or other suggestions to alleviate the concern?

      6. It is my belief that the up front price for a refurbished bike is low enough to make ownership a very enticing prospect. There’s also the convenience of constant availability. You don’t have to walk to the nearest docking station, hoping there’s a bike there, or to find a dockless bike on the street.

        I could be wrong, of course. But in this case, I do not think I am.

      7. If other cities had Bikeworks like NPOs, they wouldn’t need bikeshares either.

        [Ah] Both Boston and D. C. have very successful bikeshare programs. Both also have very similar programs as Bikeworks:

        Boston: https://bikesnotbombs.org/youth
        DC: https://tinyurl.com/ydeyw5xv

        Got it? Your ignorance about programs that help low income people fix their bikes is called provincialism. The inability to realize that bike ownership is not a substitute for a bikeshare system shows complete ignorance about the purpose of bikeshare systems.

      8. What purpose do bikeshare systems serve that cannot be solved with groups like Bikeworks or bicycle ownership? That last one seems quite confusing to me.

      9. Purpose: Parking. Same as the difference between carshares like Zipcar vs owning your own car.

      10. Once hidden advantage of bikeshare over bike ownership is that, in many apartment buildings, beginning and ending a trip in a person bike can be cumbersome. Depending on how/where bikes are parked, this may entail removing a bike from a rack overcrowded with other people’s bikes, lugging the bike up/down a flight of stairs, lifting the bike to get it onto a vertical rack in a storage room, etc. And, if you ride infrequently, every time you do ride, the tires are likely to be under-inflated, so every ride requires more time to pump air in the tires (which may involve multiple trips up/down stairs to bring the tire pump to the bike, then return the pump back to the apartment again).

        Add it all up, it is very easy for a trip in a personal bike to involve 10+ minutes of overhead before you even get on the saddle and start riding anywhere – enough to make riding a bike simply not worth it for short trips. For example, if you’re trip length is one mile, 10 minutes of overhead + 5 minutes of riding = 15 minutes; many people, including myself, would prefer to simply spend those 15 minutes doing a brisk walk.

        Granted, the ideal solution might be not bikeshare, but simply for apartments to have better bike facilities for their residents, but the problem is real, and it definitely impacts people’s decision whether to ride.

      11. What purpose do bikeshare systems serve that cannot be solved with groups like Bikeworks or bicycle ownership? That last one seems quite confusing to me.

        [ah]

        If you follow the link I had up above, you would find this, in the introductory paragraph:

        Bike share programs extend the reach of existing transit, make one-way bike trips possible, and eliminate some barriers to riding such as bike ownership, storage, maintenance and concerns about theft.

        The Wikipedia page for bikeshare (
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle-sharing_system) has this in its introductory paragraph:

        A bike share scheme, is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals on a short term basis. Many bike share systems allow people to borrow a bike from a “dock” and return it at another dock belonging to the same system.

        The key being, you pick it up in one area, and drop it off at another. In that same article, there is a section labeled “Goals of bike sharing”. In there, it has the following sentences:

        Their central concept is to provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips in an urban area as an alternative to motorised public transport or private vehicles, thereby reducing congestion, noise, and air pollution. Bicycle-sharing systems have also been cited as a way to solve the “last mile” problem and connect users to public transit networks.

        Still confused? OK, here are some scenarios. You take public transit to work. During your lunch hour, you decided you want to go visit a restaurant about a mile away to meet with a friend. The bus can get you there, but it would take a while. Likewise, you could walk, but that too would eat up most of your lunch hour. So instead, you hop on a bike, and just go.

        Another scenario. You live in Belltown, and want to visit a friend on the east side of Green Lake. You can take transit, but it requires another twenty minute walk (https://goo.gl/maps/AgZqXvZXjwQsQKgw7). You could try putting your bike on the bus, but sometimes the spots are full, and besides, you feel kind of guilty holding up a bus full of people while you fiddle with the bike system. You could ride the whole way, but that is a long bike ride, with a fair amount of hills. So instead you take the fast and frequent E, followed by riding a bikeshare bike. This is what is meant by solving the “last mile problem”. (There is a Wikipedia entry for that as well).

        Keep in mind, these are the *types* of trips that bikeshare enables, not the only ones. The key aspect to bikeshare is that you can pick it up in one place, and drop it off in another. It works really well with transit, and actually encourages it. Some people drive to work because they need their car for work, when a bike would work just fine. There are lots and lots of articles about bikeshare. There are even some locally, here: https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/. What you will find is that even though the author, and just about everyone who comments owns a bike (of course — it is a bike blog) they still are strong proponents of bike share, and would use it more often if it was similar to the successful systems in the rest of the country (which are publicly owned and have lots and lots of docks).

      12. “Bike share programs extend the reach of existing transit, make one-way bike trips possible, and eliminate some barriers to riding such as bike ownership, storage, maintenance and concerns about theft.”

        Bicycles also extend the reach of existing transit. Bike ownership being a barrier can be addressed other ways. Bikes are not large, making storage a false issue. Maintenance is surprisingly easy, and I’d argue concerns about theft aren’t even worth addressing. We don’t build transit infrastructure based on feelings.

        “A bike share scheme, is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals on a short term basis. Many bike share systems allow people to borrow a bike from a “dock” and return it at another dock belonging to the same system”

        Sure, but this doesn’t address what the value of said system is, and assumes there are bikes at the closest dock to start your trip as well as space at the dock closest to your end point. That’s one hell of an assumption.

        “Their central concept is to provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips in an urban area as an alternative to motorised public transport or private vehicles, thereby reducing congestion, noise, and air pollution. Bicycle-sharing systems have also been cited as a way to solve the “last mile” problem and connect users to public transit networks.”

        Again, none of this proves their value over private ownership. It is an alternative to private bicycle ownership, but that does not make it a valuable alternative. This is why I called bikeshares a solution looking for a problem.

        Your scenarios are incredibly forced. We should design an entire alternative transit mode for people who can’t decide where they want to have lunch before they leave for work? Or for people who don’t want to take less than 30 seconds to load their bike onto the front of the bus? I’ll grant you sometimes the bike rack on the front of the bus is full, but I would suggest to you that a robust light rail system and better bike racks are the appropriate solutions, not bikeshares.

        “The key aspect to bikeshare is that you can pick it up in one place, and drop it off in another.”

        That’s just it though. Docked bikeshare doesn’t do this. You can’t guarantee a bike will be at any one place or that you can drop it off in another. Bikes have transit and usage patterns too. Which is why dockless would work somewhat better if people didn’t just park them anywhere on the sidewalk, obstructing pedestrian traffic.

      13. I would rather see more widespread programs like Bikeworks than bikeshares, but one nicke for bikeshares is visitors who are only here for a short time.

        How is Pedal Anywhere doing? That’s a service started by a former STB reporter a couple years before bikeshare came to Seattle, where they deliver you a rental bike in a van, and pick it up the same way.

      14. Wow. This is quite the spirited discussion.

        First things first. I need to make a correction to my comment above: Lift = Lyft. (Chalk that one up to my aging brain.)

        Secondly. The NYC bikeshare program is now nearly 900 stations. I mention this because, imho, it was the lack of docking stations in some of the densest neighborhoods of Seattle that was probably the biggest problem with the city’s ill-fated Pronto program.

        Thirdly, what’s the deal with the term bikeshare (bikesharing)? I’ve seen it written as “bike share(ing)”, “bikeshare(ing) as well as “bike-share(ing)”. (I personally have opted for the second format.) We have a tendency in American English to consolidate such compound word phrases over time, either pushing the words together or eliminating any hyphen between the words, regardless of the intended part of speech the compound word is serving. Currently I think I see the “bikeshare/bikesharing” format used most often in the articles I’ve come across, but the experiences of others may cause them to draw a different conclusion.

      15. “Bikes are not large, making storage a false issue.”

        Storage can certainly be an issue for those living in apartment buildings and condominiums. For example, one of the apartment buildings my spouse’s employer owns (they’re a residential developer) forbids tenants bringing bicycles into their units. Tenants in that building who own bicycles have the following options:
        –storing the bicycle in the allocated secure storage area (optional monthly fee, currently $50)
        –storing the bicycle in their personal storage space (optional monthly fee, currently $50)
        –keeping the bicycle attached to the bike rack on their vehicle (additional lease option for the vehicle space, $250/mo)

      16. Tlsgwm, are you suggesting such bicycle restrictions are common among Seattle rental units, properties, or HOAs? Seattle is the 12th largest city in the US by population. if you stare long and hard enough, finding a niche case is easy.

      17. @A Joy

        STOP TROLLING. Moderators, please read these comments — don’t they strike you as trolling?

        Let me quote here:

        “Bikes are not large, making storage a false issue. ”

        Yet they are mentioned in Wikipedia as well as scientific studies as one of the benefits of bikeshare system. They are, to anyone who as actually live in an apartment, demonstrably false. I’ve lived in plenty of apartments where storing a bicycle is a pain, and this is in relatively low density Seattle.

        Maintenance is surprisingly easy, and I’d argue concerns about theft aren’t even worth addressing. We don’t build transit infrastructure based on feelings.

        Again, trolling. I’m quoting from Wikipedia, and this A Joy character is saying that real, valid reasons for bikeshare are based on “feelings”.

        “A bike share scheme, is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals on a short term basis. Many bike share systems allow people to borrow a bike from a “dock” and return it at another dock belonging to the same system”

        Sure, but this doesn’t address what the value of said system is.

        Again, clear trolling. The value is self evident. Yet this person — a troll — is simply begging for more explanation. Do I really have to explain the inherit value in being able to drop off a bike in a different place?

        “Their central concept is to provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips in an urban area as an alternative to motorised public transport or private vehicles, thereby reducing congestion, noise, and air pollution. Bicycle-sharing systems have also been cited as a way to solve the “last mile” problem and connect users to public transit networks.”

        Again, none of this proves their value over private ownership. It is an alternative to private bicycle ownership, but that does not make it a valuable alternative. This is why I called bikeshares a solution looking for a problem.

        This was another quote from Wikipedia, and yet this troll continues to ignore the clearly stated value of the service. Put it this way. Imagine if someone got on this blog and basically said:

        All this money for transit is a waste. We should just pay people to own cars.

        Then, after someone patiently explained the value of transit, they doubled down, feigned ignorance, and called each explanation and example insufficient. Do we really accept such conduct on this blog, or is it open season. Because if it is the latter, why can’t go to town, and talk about their mama.

      18. ““Bikes are not large, making storage a false issue. ”

        Yet they are mentioned in Wikipedia as well as scientific studies as one of the benefits of bikeshare system.”

        What scientific study would do such a thing? Seriously now. Scientific studies do not mention, or suggest. They posit a hypothesis, perform an experiment, and record results. What experiment could be conducted to prove bike storage is an issue?

        “Maintenance is surprisingly easy, and I’d argue concerns about theft aren’t even worth addressing. We don’t build transit infrastructure based on feelings.

        Again, trolling. I’m quoting from Wikipedia, and this A Joy character is saying that real, valid reasons for bikeshare are based on “feelings”.”

        Where do you see the word “feelings” or any derivation thereof in my quoted statement? The average bike rider does no more maintenance on their bicycle than check their tire pressure. I’ve ridden thousands of miles on a single bike without once regreasing bearings, adjusting my brakes, brake lines, derailleurs, etc. Bikes are surprisingly well built these days.

        As for the rest of your post, a subjective statement is no less subjective just because it is written on Wikipedia.

    2. You’re probably right in theory, I just don’t think the city would be would be able to stomach either the up-front capital cost or the ongoing operating subsidy to make it a reality. Especially with COVID and I-976 blowing big holes in the city budget, and money to keep basic buses on the road in jeopardy.

      To really have enough bikes and docks to be useful, the up-front setup cost per square mile of service area would have to be many times what it was for Pronto. This would mean taking tax money from all over the city, concentrating it all onto a few neighborhoods which have the strongest demand and first-class bike infrastructure (perhaps downtown+SLU+UW+the perimeter of Lake Union all the way around). It would mean enduring the howls of the progressives and conservatives alike – the conservatives will call the whole thing a waste of taxpayer money, while the progressives will play the race/social justice card and argue that whatever service area is chosen based on demand/bike infrastructure excludes people of color, and that the cost of housing in those neighborhoods would make the bikeshare system effectively a subsidy for the rich.

      The result is that when something is opposed from both the left and the right, it will probably fail, and you’ll get nothing. This is why I don’t see Seattle having a public bikeshare system any time in the foreseeable future. I suppose one could theoretically do a Rainer Valley launch coupled with a simultaneous narrowing of Rainier Ave. to two lanes to make room for a bike path. But, good luck consider car drivers – or riders of the #7 bus – to go along with that.

      1. Yes, it would mean doing what EVERY OTHER CITY did to create a successful bikeshare system. Somehow that is really difficult for this city.

      2. Just to be clear, Rainier Ave S carries almost 38K vehicles at Walker St. That’s more than 4th Ave S at Spokane St, Fauntleroy at Oregon St and just under what Aurora carries at N 68th according to SDOT’s public count records.

        Unless you’re willing to sacrifice lanes on similar roads all over Seattle, please don’t single out taking lanes on Rainier. Especially since there is a plan to move traffic off of MLK around Walker St and Rainier Ave is about the only place that the traffic could go combined with new traffic from the 2,000 new housing units going up adjacent to Rainier Ave in this area.

  10. Sam, Would really like to hear from the bicycle-riding community on their thoughts about fully-reserved elevated lanes.

    Would seem to me a major consideration would be high enough side-barriers to make sure nobody and their bike gets “pitched” over the side of one of the structures.

    And also stout enough pillars that a single-car contact with a pole won’t take down the whole thing and kill a dozen people. For choice of agencies….who’s handling bikes at this level now? Sounds kind of Parks Department, but what do I know?

    And also, “Separate Agencies” don’t by any chance come with their own little costs, do they? Good thing none of them ever cause any complications over fares and schedule connections, do they?

    But above all, warning still holds about this organized campaign whose final goal is to kill transit by seeing to it nobody can ride it.

    I’m calling Discrimination for wasting all my effort to carry my ORCA card folded in a confirmation letter from the manager of my apartment that I have not yet been Evicted and am therefore ’til further notice completely NonHomeless.

    And since in point of fact, calls to both KCM and ST information leave me informed that ride Essentiality is between the passenger and the reader sign. …You callin’ MY coach’s nice big sign “Soft on Distance?”

    Mark Dublin

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