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Those bright green Lime bikes have disappeared from Durham and Wake Forest

LimeBike bike-share expands at NC State

The university's first bike-share program is adding more distinctive green bikes to the 300 they already have.
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The university's first bike-share program is adding more distinctive green bikes to the 300 they already have.

Lime, the California company whose bright green bicycles and scooters became a common sight in the Triangle, has ended its bikeshare program in Wake Forest.

The company told the town early this month that it is moving away from bicycles in favor of electric scooters, according to Suzette Morales, the town’s transportation planning manager. Lime, which was known as LimeBike until last May, has pulled its bikes out of other cities as well, including Durham and Hartford, Conn.

Requests for comment from Lime were not returned Monday.

The company had expressed an interest in bringing scooters to Wake Forest as part of its bikeshare program, Morales said. The town didn’t have a policy on scooters, so “it was not a decision that could have been made at that time,” she wrote in an email.

Now the town has a scooter policy, but it wouldn’t have helped Lime. Last week, citing safety concerns, town commissioners voted to ban motorized scooters from “sidewalks, greenways, parks, city streets and all other public areas” in town, according to a press release Monday.

Wake Forest approached Lime about bringing its bikes to town because it wanted to provide residents with low-cost transportation with little or no cost to the town, Morales said last year. The company placed about 200 of its bicycles downtown and in other key spots around town in June.

Morales said Wake Forest may consider a partnership with a dock-based bikeshare company in the future, but nothing has been decided. Dock-based systems, such as Citrix Cycle in Raleigh, also charge for rides, but the bikes must be rented and returned from docking stations, rather than left where the previous ride ended.

Lime made its debut in the Triangle in the summer of 2017, through an agreement with N.C. State University to set 300 pedal-powered bikes around campus. There was no cost to the university; Lime, through its mobile app, charged $1 per half hour of ride time, or half price for university students, faculty and staff.

The company added another 200 bikes the following spring, including some with electric assist to help riders maintain their speed and climb hills.

Since then, Lime has changed its mix at NCSU, bringing in scooters and more electric bicycles and reducing the number of traditional bikes. This winter, the company pulled the last of its pedal bikes off campus, said Sarah Williams, the university’s director for transportation demand management.

“The ridership just wasn’t enough to justify how much time and money they were spending doing maintenance on the bikes,” Williams said.

Lime is not the only bikeshare company that has decided scooters are more lucrative. Spin, a San Francisco-based company that once had bikes in Durham, now offers only “shared electric scooters for cities and campuses.”

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 20 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.
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