Lime Bikes were always a bad idea.
Don’t get us wrong. We love bicycles. We’d love our cities to become more bike-friendly. It’s better for the Earth, better for local traffic congestion, better for the health of the populace. But the best way to build a bicycle-friendly city is to build it—build more bike paths and more bike lanes.
Part of the problem is that the Lime Bikes were a novelty. Many of us rode a Lime Bike exactly once. It was something to try, not a way of life.
The vibrant green made them easy to spot—a plus for inexperienced bicyclists on the road—but also made them an easy target for social media clowning and pranks. Lime Bikes ended up atop an arch of the Virginia Street Bridge and on the island in Virginia Lake.
The company LimeBike seemed like they were making up their plans on the fly. They alienated the cities of Sparks and Reno by unexpectedly introducing electric scooters—which aren’t even currently legal on Nevada roads. They dropped the “Bike” from the company’s name because their rental bicycles were proving unprofitable.
The company demonstrated a lack of foresight and an unwillingness to communicate with municipal governments or to do basic research on legality and feasibility.
So, it was no big surprise that last month the Reno City Council declined to renew the company’s contract.
What was a big surprise was to see the photos—widely circulated online and published by the Reno Gazette Journal—of dozens of junked Lime bicycles piled high in a downtown scrapyard. By throwing away good bikes, they threw away plenty of good will.
Why were the bikes scrapped? Why not hand them over to, say, the Reno Bike Project to repair and repaint and donate to a homeless center or an orphanage? Or to replace the hundreds of bicycles stolen locally every year by thieves on their way to Burning Man?
City officials, including Mayor Hillary Schieve, blasted Lime for just dumping the bikes. And Lime’s company statements were vague at best. The RGJ published a statement the company sent them regarding the scrapped bikes. It read, in part: “Every Lime community is unique to the riders who live and work there—vehicle selection and availability varies across each and is determined through several factors including weather, regulations, usage, infrastructure availability and other analyses.
“In short, every city and district is different—there is no one-size-fits-all transportation solution.
“We are proud of the City of Reno for being forward thinking about micromobility and remain hopeful about partnering on solutions tailor-made for the Reno region in the future.”
We’re not sure how that explains why all those bikes were just tossed in a scrap heap, but we’d urge the City of Reno and other local municipal governments not to partner with Lime ever again. Especially not for electric scooters. Yuck.