Lime pulling dockless bike-share from Calgary after short stint

Calgary’s only dockless bike-share provider has decided to pull its electric-assist bicycles from city streets.

Company says the model did not prove sustainable

Lime arrived in Calgary with much fanfare in October 2018. It started with a fleet of 375 electric pedal-assist bikes. (David Bell/CBC)

Calgary's only dockless bike-share service won't be returning. 

In a statement, a Lime spokesperson says every city it operates in is unique. But in Calgary, the shared-bike model just wasn't sustainable.

"In Calgary, Lime riders are overwhelmingly choosing Lime scooters as their preferred mode of transportation," read the statement. "In the spring, we plan to return to Calgary with our scooter fleet and will discontinue providing our e-bikes."

The City of Calgary has been studying the viability of a dockless bike-share model in a two-year pilot project slated to end in October 2020. The city didn't have anyone available to comment on the future of dockless bike-shares in Calgary.

In a written statement, the city said no companies have approached the transportation department to discuss launching a bike-share service in Calgary.

Cyclepalooza organizing member David Crosby says it's a shame but it could be an opportunity.

"It's disappointing that we're losing the Lime bikes — they filled a need that the scooters don't quite meet," he said. "A Calgary-grown bike share would be a great way to bring back bikes and potentially create new jobs as well."

The city did release a report about e-bikes and scooters with data gathered over one year. The fleet, made up of 500 electric pedal-assist bikes, had 40,000 users who took 168,000 trips and travelled 210,000 kilometres. 

For comparison, Lime scooters combined with Bird's fleet had 750,000 trips between July and October 2019.

The Lime bike pilot project expanded last June from just downtown to the entire city. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Southwest resident Ryan Hoult says the news is one of many blows against transportation choice in Calgary. He was using both the e-bike and scooter service regularly to fill gaps in his commute because his family has only one car. 

"This really hurts the people in Calgary that can't afford to have multiple cars," he said. "It's really becoming a city where if you can't afford a car per adult, maybe the city isn't for you."

Hoult says he uses Lime scooters for short trips but could count on the bikes to travel from Altadore to downtown and back for his workdays. 

Nikki Reimer says she used Lime bikes and is disappointed that will no longer be an option. (Helen Pike/ CBC)

"My usage of Lime, as a whole, will definitely go down," Hoult said. "Scooters aren't a viable option for everything — you know, from bringing a knapsack or carrying things. It's great to be able to put them in a basket and go."

Nikki Reimer also used the bikes but slowed down when the scooters came online because she felt the bikes were more difficult to find in the sea of scoots.

"Scooters are fine, but when you're on a bike, you're actually moving your body," Reimer said. "You're getting a little bit of exercise. So, yeah, I'm disappointed that it's not an option anymore."

And, she says, this marks a step backward for Calgary. She says this is just one of the many recent examples of Calgary slipping back into car culture.

"It's irritating," Reimer said. "I really would like to see Calgary move in the direction of being a more sustainable city with more modes of transportation for more people."


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