Fourth time’s a charm: Will Lime be the bike sharing startup that works in Australia?

bike sharing

Singaporean giant oBike ceased local operations in June. Source: AAP/oBike Australia.

American electric bike company Lime has become the latest business to try its hand at making bike sharing work in Australia, launching a new scheme in Sydney last week.

It comes after the spectacular failure of similar schemes in Melbourne and Sydney earlier this year, with three international businesses already having tried and failed to set up bike sharing Down Under.

Singaporean giant oBike ceased local operations in June, leaving behind thousands of bikes and unhappy customers.

Others like ofo and ReddyGo exited not long after, following dozens of reports of customers throwing bikes into rivers, up trees and on roads.

While bike sharing has been roundly mocked in Australia following the failure of past businesses, Lime clearly believes it can change the tone and create a viable business.

An initial 300 bikes have been distributed through Sydney, with plans in the works to add more bikes and also expand to Melbourne.

“Sydney’s need for innovative transport solutions, which cater to the first and last mile, gives us confidence we will see the high uptake of Lime electric bikes within the community,” Lime director of government affairs and strategy in ANZ, Mitchell Price, said in a statement.

Lime has a local team of 50 “operations specialists” and mechanics on hand to respond to customer enquiries and “facilitate positive interactions with the bikes”.

Bike sharing is a simple enough concept: customers use GPS-enabled smartphone applications to unlock bikes near them for a fee, leaving it wherever their ride ends.

Previous iterations of the program in Australia faced criticism from local government and consumers over bike locations being inaccurate and riders not wearing helmets.

Lime’s bikes are electric, which sets them apart from others, with claims of 24 km/h speeds.

The bikes will need to be recharged every two-days, which Lime’s local team will be responsible for.

NOW READ: OBike pulls out of Melbourne and enters liquidation in Singapore: Why hasn’t bike sharing kicked off in Australia?

NOW READ: Chinese umbrella-sharing business faces rainy days after losing most of its umbrellas: Lessons in trust for startups

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Don Murchison
Don Murchison
2 years ago

Bike sharing is a great concept to reduce traffic congestion & allow residents to get from A to B quickly and efficiently, without car parking issues. It is particularly helpful at railway stations, to allow easy & efficient access to key destinations. It benefits people who are not regular cyclists [with their own bikes] and also tourists. Unfortunately it has been abused by people by criminals who steal bikes, vandalise bikes or deliberately abandon them in insane locations. Unfortunately too, Australian governments have not legislated to make this sort of criminal behaviour punishable. So the culprits get away with their crimes while some people in society just look at bikes that are left abandoned and blame the bike businesses. I wish Lime [with their E-bikes] all the best with their venture, but despair that they too will fail unless governments and the police don’t book offenders who vandalise the bikes and make it impossible for these businesses to survive. We can all benefit with these schemes – whether we drive a car in heavy traffic, or just want to get from A to B. So lets lobby the government for heavy penalties for abuse and give these innovative companies a chance to flourish.

Lara Solomon
2 years ago

Why oh why is Australia trying to reinvent the wheel? In London bike sharing with places to return them to works so well, why aren’t we doing that. This already looks like a recipe for disaster, surely electric bikes should be returned to a charging station? Or do Lime not want to pay to set up charging stations. I agree that once again they will be cluttering up the streets.