The hilly streets of Seattle and San Francisco are often intimidating to would-be cyclists. LimeBike hopes to help them get over the hump with new additions to its fleet.
Today, the dockless bike sharing company announced it will roll out electric-assist bicycles in Seattle, several California cities, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Miami, Fla. LimeBike announced the program, called Lime-E, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The e-bikes cost $1 to unlock and $1 additional dollar for every 10 minutes of ride time. That’s slightly more than analog LimeBikes, which cost a flat $1 for every 30 minutes of ride time. LimeBike is planning to deploy the e-bikes the third week of January.
Caen Contee, LimeBike’s VP of marketing and expansion, described the move into e-bikes as “a catalyzing and transformational moment for the industry.”
Transportation officials are still catching up to e-bikes, which are growing in popularity. Contee says LimeBike is working with municipalities to ensure the Lime-E program is compliant with local rules. In Washington state, for example, e-bikes must have at least two fully operational pedals for human propulsion and they can’t have a maximum speed greater than 20 mph.
It’s more typical for cities to cap speeds at 15 mph, Contee says. For that reason, LimeBike’s electric bicycles are designed to have a maximum speed of 14.5 mph. LimeBike says it is the first dockless bike sharing service to deploy e-bikes at scale.
“That’s part of what has made us unique,” Contee said, referencing the increasingly competitive U.S. bike share market. In Seattle alone, there are three services — LimeBike, Spin, and Ofo — competing for dominance.
In October, LimeBike closed a $50 million Series B funding round. The company is already planning its Series C.
“Bikeshare and smart mobility is capital intensive,” Contee said. “It requires online and offline operation, on the ground teams. It’s expensive. It takes a lot of capital.”