In this longish article, a Seattle Bike Blog writer (but not Tom Fucoloro)
gives his first-hand take on the new Lime e-bikes currently deployed in
Lime plans to switch 40% of their Seattle deployment - currently at 4000 -
to this model over time - currently there are 500 Lime-Es deployed - and
two other bikeshare companies also plan to add some e-bikes to their mix.
In general, he seems to like them. They top out at 15mph and -
counterintuitively to me - offer less assist for more applied pedal power.
That will make a ride up a steep hill very attractive.
He doesn't mention the cost structure, but I've read elsewhere that it's $1
to unlock, plus $1/10min - so, a half hour ride for $4, Contrast to $1
total for a half-hour ride on a conventional one. Not clear if there are
subscription deals like there are for the conventional bikes, but it seems
accurate enough to characterize it as four times more costly.
The claim is that each four-hour charge yields sixty hours of riding.
Besides greater capital cost, the cost of Lime staff visiting each bike to
swap batteries every few days leads to an increased operating cost over the
manual bikes. Presumably, too, these bikes will clump at the top of steep
hills just as the manual one clump in the valleys. Redistribution costs
will be high.
It will be interesting to see how this works out. For one thing, it seems a
lot safer to leave a 40# mechanical bicycle on the street, and somewhat
less safe to leave a costly, repurposable lithium battery pack and motor on
the street. I hear the palms of Seattle makers rubbing together briskly in
anticipation. And these bikes will be just as easy for vandals to toss into
the ship canal.
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