A year after Lime Bikes hit the streets in North Vancouver, the rental e-bikes are rolling out in West Vancouver, and the company is upgrading its entire North Shore fleet.
About 50 new bikes are now been deployed at 16 “groves” between Park Royal and Dundarave.
“The program is active. It's a go,” said Donna Powers, District of West Vancouver spokesperson.
The North Shore municipalities agreed to allow Lime to set up locally on a two-year pilot project to encourage car-free, carbon-free mobility. The first of the fleet of 200 arrived in the City of North Vancouver on July 26, 2021, and spread to the District of North Vancouver soon after.
According to the company, about 11,000 people have taken almost 54,000 trips since the pilot launch, for a total of nearly 110,000 kilometres ridden on the North Shore. Lime calculates that as the equivalent of 13,000 car trips that would have burned 2,500 litres of gas and emitted six metric tonnes of carbon.
That kind of success is exactly what West Vancouver council is hoping to see, Powers said.
“Every time that we choose to go somewhere without using a car, we're contributing to our community’s goal of reducing emissions, so obviously, it's a green goal. It's a healthier planet. It's healthier people,” she said.
Best of all, the electric-assist makes the North Shore’s famously steep terrain a non-issue, Powers said.
“It's a bit of a game changer because they make cycling attainable for people who otherwise wouldn't be cycling,” she said. “They make a tonne of sense for the North Shore.”
Using a smartphone app, Lime members pay $1.15 to unlock a bike and then 35 cents per minute to get to their destination. That means a ride from the West Vancouver Community Centre to Park Royal should cost about $4.50.
The municipality expects users to finish their trip by leaving their Lime Bike at another grove. But folks in North Van will certainly have noticed the bikes being left pretty well anywhere. Bikes left outside groves are up for grabs, but Lime will come collect them if they sit too long, Powers said.
“That is part of the business model that Lime is responsible for that,” she said.
In West Vancouver, the northern boundary for the bikes is Mathers Avenue.
Each bike has a governor that caps its speed at 30 kilometres per hour.
West Van council voted to join the pilot in June 2021. It took a year to get it going, in part, because staff wanted to first see how things were going in North Vancouver. They aimed for a spring 2022 launch.
“We decided that it would be prudent to resolve the issues before rolling out any more groves,” Powers said. “As with anything else, things just take a little bit longer to implement nowadays.”
To mark the first anniversary of Lime’s arrival, the company announced Wednesday that it would be upgrading its entire North Shore fleet to a newer generation model of bike that should be more comfortable and offer a little more “oomph” in getting up hills.
Unlike the old bikes, the new ones now come with helmets, which are required by B.C. law.
The upgrade of the bikes bodes well for the success of the program over the longer term, said Chris Iuvancigh, general manager at Lime.
“This fleet swap is us doubling down on that partnership and making a major investment that will benefit everyone who calls the North Shore home plus anyone who comes to visit,” he said in a release. “Climbing hills is a breeze on our smoothest and most powerful e-bikes ever and will provide a fun, safe, and sustainable way to get anywhere across the North Shore, from Dundarave Beach to Lynn Valley.”
The older bikes will likely be redeployed to newer markets.
Lime currently operates in Kelowna and Edmonton as well as dozens of cities in the United States and Europe.