For the last century, we haven’t seen a truly transformative change to urban mobility in our nation’s cities. By pairing modern technology with something as age-old as the bike, that’s all about to change.
The advance of on-demand, electric and self-driving cars are all car-based mobility enhancements. But what if a better solution for the majority of our daily trips didn’t come on four wheels, but two instead?
Since the car began to dominate our culture as a mode of transportation, our cities have been plagued with parking issues, traffic congestion, and localized smog — at a cost to us all. Valuable real estate is consumed for parking unused vehicles. Our cities have worked tirelessly to integrate only partially-successful public transportation. And yet, aside from some incremental progress on the types of cars we drive or who actually drives them, a fundamental change to this car-centric model has escaped us.
Like a lot of people, I look to avoid driving whenever I can. I simply find the parking and traffic congestion to be an endless headache. But I’ve also found no efficient or affordable alternative to get from point A to point B in the city. We founded LimeBike to solve that.
At LimeBike, we envision a new era, an era where people break free from their cars, where public transportation truly works, and is integrated seamlessly with affordable, widely available shared bikes. Instead of hailing an Uber for that 8 block ride or being stuck in traffic which can turn your day into a grind, you’d hop on a bike. Instead of being unable to use public transportation because it doesn’t quite take you that last mile to work or home, imagine hopping off the train, grabbing a bike, and heading on your way, faster than before. And imagine the money you’d save not having to own a car, or the resources a city which avoids all that traffic congestion and frees up the valuable space for parking unused cars.
We are at the dawn of that being possible.
New cost-effective, widely available bike sharing is the critical missing link between public transit and truly functional urban mobility that cities have been waiting for. Here are some of the known benefits:
- Bike sharing helps solve the critical last mile problem that prevents people from taking alternative forms of transportation. A pinnacle of sustainability is the ability for public transportation systems to work. And yet, most people can’t effectively use these systems because their day takes them away from immediate access to public transit.
- Biking reduces the environmental costs of cars. The most expensive, inefficient, carbon intensive trips are the short rides we take.
- Bikes on our streets boost urban economic development. Instead of being bound to your car with no place to park or ordering from Amazon from the back of your Uber, those biking through their neighborhoods easily stop at local shops and have far greater access to the local economy around them. In fact, research has shown a boost to local business of 20 to 30% from bike sharing.
- Biking is a healthier way to get around. Access to a bike to get around can make getting a little exercise and fresh air from a short trip entirely possible. Studies have shown a ride just three times a week can reduce chronic illness by 50%.
- Bikes can be one of the most equitable forms of transportation: Renting a bike is far cheaper, and more widely accessible to all. As great as the new car-based ride-sharing services are, they aren’t cheap. Bike sharing can be.
We are proud to be launching LimeBike to revolutionize urban mobility, empowering people with more efficient, affordable, and sustainable transportation options. By utilizing modern mobile technology and systematically deploying thousands of smart-bikes, enabled with GPS and self-locking mechanisms, we can make bike sharing universally available and affordable with a station-less, subsidy free network unlike ever seen before. This will dramatically improve urban mobility, making the first and last mile faster, cheaper, and healthier. Users will be able to identify a bike on the street or on our app and with just two taps, will have access to $1 rides, with the ease to parking the bike at their destination. No more hunting for a distant docking station.
For cities and college campuses, our solution will be completely grant and subsidy free. Traditional bike sharing enterprises have required ongoing subsidies for capital and operational costs in the order of $5,000 to $10,000 for each station and over $1,000 per bike every year. That’s not a sustainable model. It’s not a model that can truly scale or one that can have transformative impacts on how we get around. Taxpayers aren’t able to continue footing the bill for these programs, and at the same time these programs struggle to provide affordable rides for users or expand to be as widely available to truly transform urban mobility. We see another way.
We’ve built a team and technology that can inspire this fundamental transition. In partnership with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and other funders we’re embarking on a new way to get around.
If you want to see a change to the way our cities work, to see greener, cleaner cities, with fewer cars and a fundamentally more efficient way to get around, ride with us and help us chart a path for a better future.
Toby Sun is the co-founder and CEO of LimeBike.