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Limelight on Lime

On 26 February we had our first seminar for 2019, a fantastic presentation and question and answers session from Will Peters, Community Affairs Manager for Lime Scooters in Australia and New Zealand.

Around 30 of us got to learn more about the role Lime plays in getting cities moving. Lime started two years ago as a dockless bike-share startup, but soon found electric-assist bikes have an uptake around double pedal bikes. to differentiate themselves from the many other bike-share companies out there they started the e-scooter sharing service that being rolled out in seven cities in Australia and New Zealand, but is all over the US and Europe.

Will gave a short but engaging presentation on what the data that Lime gathers tells them about how people travel. Some stats that I found fascinating were:

  • 30% of Lime Scooter users previously used motorised transport for the trip

  • In Brisbane around 300 helmets (out of a total of 700) a day were swiped in the first few days of the startup - Lime replaces them all with a helmet per scooter every day

  • In October 2018, after only 100 days in Brisbane, 150,000 Lime Scooter riders had covered over 1 million kilometres in 550,000 trips

  • Insights from an Auckland survey found that over 57% of users had last ridden a bicycle more than 6 months ago

  • In Brisbane each scooter is used between 6 and 9 times a day which is more than what is ideal, there is a need for more scooters

  • Because of the high use the scooters only last between 60 to 80 days before needing a major overhaul - all components are recycled

  • Less than 1% of the global e-scooter fleet is lost to vandalism a year

  • Lime doesn't just monitor the use of scooters, it also monitors app usage. So if you unsuccessfully looked for a scooter in the same spot at the same time for 2 or 3 days, it is likely that a scooter will be dropped off there the next day

  • Surveys of the public found that 55% of people would most likely use Lime Scooters to explore the city, while commuting and running errands makes up 29% and 28% respectively

There was great discussion about the role of e-scooters and whether their impact on active modes is negative - do they make footpaths more dangerous, do they reduce the health benefit by removing active trips from the network? Although these points have merits, there are however significant benefits including:

  • getting more people out of cars for short trips

  • making public transport more viable through a convenient last-mile service

  • supporting the development of improved pedestrian infrastructure and more separated cycle facilities

Lime Scooters are predominantly used for first/last mile and short-distance trips. They have quickly stepped in to serve an important role in the city's transport network, especially in those areas of the city where public transport service is less accessible. Although not technically 'active' transport, I believe their presence in the city will support calls for improved active transport infrastructure, and improves the viability of using public transport to access areas of the city that are poorly served. The data that Lime gathers can tell us a lot about these short trips and as an industry we need to be looking at how it can be used to inform our planning and analysis of active transport movement in the city.

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