LimeBike bike sharing program coming to Lake Tahoe’s South Shore | TahoeDailyTribune.com

LimeBike bike sharing program coming to Lake Tahoe’s South Shore

Want to avoid traffic and bike to lunch instead? There's an app for that.

This Saturday, July 15, marks the launch of a bike-sharing program, powered by a smartphone app, on Lake Tahoe's South Shore.

Bay Area-based LimeBike is bringing 200 of its custom-made bikes to the South Shore for a three-month trial period. The lime green bikes will be positioned outside businesses from Stateline to the Y, but unlike other bike sharing systems, there are no docks.

Using LimeBike's free app, the user scans a QR code on the free-floating bike to release the lock on the back wheel. If no bike is in sight, the map within the app can locate a nearby bike, which is fitted with GPS. These mechanics are powered by a small solar panel on the bike.

Using a linked credit or debit card within the app, credits for rides can be purchased at the rate of $1 per 30 minutes.

The single-gear bikes are heavy and fitted with airless tires made of dense rubber to reduce maintenance. And when the user is done with the bike, it can be left wherever they are, or at a nearby "hub" indicated on the app.

"We run a really tight ship with our local operations team and have a team of people out there doing what we call re-balancing and redistribution. So if all the bikes end up at the bottom of the hill, we'll have a team there to pick them up and bring them to where they need to be," explained Nick Fong, new market launcher for LimeBike.

The Tahoe Mountain Lab coworking space is one of the businesses that will act as a hub for LimeBikes.

"…We knew right away it was a great fit for the Mountain Lab: alternative transportation, healthy lifestyle, effective use of technology," said Cristi Creegan, co-owner of the Tahoe Mountain Lab. "We'd talked about buying some bikes to encourage our members to ride around town, and this broadens that concept to the whole community."

LimeBike was founded last fall and is currently operating in Greensboro, North Carolina and Key Biscayne, Florida. The company is preparing to launch in Seattle, too.

"We are looking for ways to get people out of their cars when they are in Lake Tahoe," said Jesse Patterson, deputy director at the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the agency that helped bring LimeBike to the area.

"One thing we really liked about this model is that it is very adaptable. You can scale it up. You can scale it down. You could put a geofence that prevents people from leaving areas."

The League is also interested in the data that will be collected over the course of the pilot program.

"We want to see where people are riding their bikes. It's all anonymously tracked, but the data will show us where people are riding and see if that matches up with the plans the agencies have been developing to build bike paths," explained Patterson.

And all of this comes at no cost to the local jurisdictions.

"It's a great concept, and the bikes are beautiful, so I look forward to seeing them around Highway 50 and on our bike paths," said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Austin Sass following a presentation by LimeBike at the July 11 City Council meeting.

From now until the end of the pilot program in October — weather permitting — a LimeBike team will be stationed locally to manage the day-to-day operations.

"We realize that we're still figuring certain things out, so we want people to be patient with us and feel free to contact us with feedback, questions and concerns and we'll answer them as best as we can," noted Fong.

Feedback can be emailed to LimeBike at support@limebike.com.