LimeBike kicks off 2nd year in South Lake Tahoe with launch party
LimeBike is back on Tahoe’s South Shore, and this time the bike-sharing company has a larger local staff, updated equipment and plans to bring electric scooters.
Although some of the unmistakable green bikes have been distributed over the past week, San Mateo-based LimeBike officially kicks off its second year in South Lake Tahoe with a launch party from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 27, on Ski Run Boulevard near Ski Run Marina.
“We just put our bikes on the streets this week and we’re super excited for the launch party,” said Stefanie Sarradet, a Tahoe Basin resident for 13 years who grew up in Grass Valley and is in her first year as LimeBike operations manager for Tahoe. “We want to engage and interact more this year with the community. We have over 50 businesses supporting us.”
LimeBike came to the South Shore in 2017 with help from the League to Save Lake Tahoe as part of its effort to get more vehicles off local roads.
Supporting businesses in Tahoe will be hubs, or distribution areas, for LimeBike, which currently has about 100 bicycles from Stateline to the Y. The number of bikes may go up or down depending on usage, Sarradet said. LimeBikes operate without a dock, instead using GPS, a locking mechanism and a smartphone app for booking.
The company had five employees based on the South Shore last year, but that number has grown to over 30 for 2018.
“We’ve hired over 30 locals with competitive wages and that’s huge for us,” Sarradet said. “We’re focusing on having vans in different areas at all times so if somebody wants to file a complaint, the number is right there on the bike, I’m immediately alerted.”
South Lake Tahoe was the first California community to have LimeBikes and the company has since expanded this year into Reno and Sacramento, and has been well-received, according to Sarradet. Overall, the company is in 60 markets and has had over 3 million rides. There were over 12,000 rides last year on South Shore.
“That directly relates to car rides, emissions and ultimately pollution,” Sarradet said. “You can bike, walk, skip, whatever you want, but when you look at the little things they really add up. When you start breaking it down into CO2 numbers, it’s spectacular no matter how you break it down.”
LimeBike wasn’t free of controversy in its first year.
LimeBikes hung in trees and seen under water in Lake Tahoe made their rounds on social media, although company officials said the rate of vandalism was near the average for the other communities in which they operate, the Tribune previously reported.
LimeBike has since updated its bicycles and added new features.
The newer bikes have a tip-over feature that alerts Sarradet when bikes are knocked over, she said. LimeBike also is working on a ticketing system that will hold repeat offenders “accountable for malicious behavior.”
Also new for 2018: electric scooters. LimeBike plans to bring the scooter to South Shore this summer, along with a local “juicing” program. The company will pay people up to $25 per day, depending on room available, to charge scooters at their homes. The scooters, which will be geared for adult users 18 and over, would need to be picked up after 8 p.m. and distributed for the next day by 8 a.m.
Stats on LimeBike users show that the average rider travels about a mile and it lasts for about 30 minutes, with 25 percent of the trips ending at travel stations, like bus and shuttle stops, and 60 percent heading toward shopping and entertainment districts, Sarradet said.
She also suggests that if people want to rent a bike for the day, they should go to one of the many bike rental places in Tahoe. Complaints from some of those rental businesses was another point of controversy during LimeBike’s first season at Tahoe. LimeBike officials point to the fact that the bikes are not meant for long trips, which is reflected in the user data, the Tribune previously reported.
The most popular area for LimeBike usage is between Stateline and the Ski Run area, according to Sarradet.
During Sunday’s event, LimeBike will offer free rides and participants can take advantage of discounts offered by Blue Angel Café, including pulled pork sliders for $2.50, a salad, plate of fries and cup of soup for $3, a dollar off domestic beers and $4 glasses of house chardonnay, red wine or house bubbly.
To use a LimeBike, download the app to a smartphone and read the instructions. Once the app is downloaded, the bike can be unlocked by scanning a bar code. The important part is ending the ride, remembering to lock the bike so the charges stop adding up.
It’s $1 to unlock the bike and $1 for every 30 minutes. All the bikes have a kickstand and can be left at the destination. Students with an email ending in .edu get half off the price.
“To get across town it only takes a couple of bucks,” Sarradet said.