Bikeshare battle: Which service will you use in Seattle?
Bikeshares are quickly growing in the City of Seattle, yet again, now that Uber, Lyft, and Lime will all be competing for customers. The question now is simple: What does each bikeshare service offer?
Uber has JUMP, Lime has LimeBike, and Lyft is looking to make headway into Seattle next.
Seattle took 460,000 bikeshare trips over the first 5.5 months of its 2017 pilot program across three companies. After 11 months, customers took 1 million trips on Lime alone. But two of the three companies who took part in the bikeshare pilot have left Seattle. There’s a massive market to be tapped, and everyone wants a piece.
What can each service provides it customers? Let’s take a look.
Lime holds the distinction of being Seattle’s heir apparent in terms of successful bikeshare programs, after both Spin and Ofo left town earlier this year, citing the high cost of city permits.
Right now, Lime’s bikeshare offering runs customers $1 to unlock any bike, and then charges $0.05 per minute after that. The company’s electric assist bikes are slightly more expensive, running the same price for unlocking, and then $0.15 per minute after that. The company also offers a subscription service for $29.95 a month.
After you complete your ride, you can park your bike “anywhere it is safe,” as long it doesn’t block sidewalks, service ramps, bus stops, or business entrances. The downside of this policy saw one Seattle resident report dozens of LimeBikes parked in their backyard.
Uber’s JUMP launched in Seattle this week, and carries a few key differences from its Lime counterparts, in addition to its cheaper $0.10 per minute rate for ebikes.
JUMP’s electric assist bikes can reportedly travel upwards of 15 miles per hour, roughly five miles hour faster than Lime’s ebike. JUMP’s ebikes also have gears, another feature Lime currently lacks.
Rather than leaving your bike anywhere, Uber’s service asks that you lock your bike to a rack, with a u-lock provided with each ride. But JUMP customers won’t be required to lock their bikes up until March 15, 2019
The final key difference involves how JUMP’s ebikes are charged. While Lime sends outs its employees to individually replace batteries, Uber is hoping to eventually plug directly into the grid with parking stations for 4-5 bikes. At locations with higher use, JUMP is considering adding charging locations to accommodate up to 15 bikes. The company has proposed to install a handful of test stations in Seattle — one at Pier 69 on Alaskan Way, and a few along the Second Avenue protected bike lane.
The charging stations will offer customers bikes that are more regularly charged, but the system may be reminiscent of the city’s old PRONTO system.
Since Lyft has yet to fully enter the Seattle market, we don’t know much about what it plans to do locally. What we can do, though, is look at the company’s bikeshare service currently operating in San Francisco as a template.
Known as Ford GoBike to our California neighbors, its ebikes can travel up to 18 miles per hour, and must be returned to assigned docking stations around the city. The non-electric bike offerings are dockless, and can be left virtually anywhere, similar to Lime’s system.
Cost-wise, GoBike runs customers $2 per ride, $10 for a whole day, and $15 a month for unlimited rides up to 45 minutes.
It’s safe to say that once Lyft joins Uber and Lime in Seattle, riders will have plenty of options for biking around the city.