One of the world’s large bicycle share companies, Lime, is setting up its first Irish operations in the market town of Castlebar.
This afternoon the company is launching what it terms as a 12-month pilot scheme in the Co Mayo town. Like Bolt, another international bicycle share operator which recently started operating in Sligo and Kilkenny, starting in smaller urban centres is seen as a kind of springboard into the market in Ireland.
Dublin’s bicycle share market is already crowded — with 6 different operations spread over the disjointed and fragmented market of the four council areas, each council regulating licencing into their areas and few services operating across boundaries — and Cork City Council reportedly isn’t ready to invite stainless system in.
This morning, a spokesperson for Lime told IrishCycle.com: “In terms of plans for expansion, we’re always looking for opportunities to bring our e-bikes and e-scooters to new places and we hope this is just the first of many Irish towns and cities to welcome our vehicles. We’re hoping to launch our e-scooter sharing service in Ireland next year following the introduction of legislation and regulations for e-scooters.”
In a press release, Lime said that the Castlebar launch is just the first part what it said was its “commitment to invest €10 million in its Irish operations”. It said it wants to “Launch e-bike and e-scooter sharing schemes in towns and cities across the country. Lime hopes to launch its e-scooter sharing service in Ireland next year following delays in the introduction of legislation and regulations for e-scooters.”
Lime’s system will is priced with an unlock fee of €1 with a charge of 15 cent per minute — this is the same pricing as Moby in Dublin and cheaper than Tier in Fingal which charges €1 to unlock and €0.20 per minute.
The Lime app current shows an area around Castlebar town and along the greenway to Turlough village as the usage area for the system.
Lime said that the scheme is being delivered in partnership with Mayo County Council, and will use ‘virtual parking bays’ across the town. Such virtual bays are usually marked on the ground with paint rather than using docking stations or stands.
This differs from Dublin where most stationless bicycle share systems act in a hybrid mode, requiring users to lock the bicycles to public bicycle stands. This approach was taken to avoid bicycles being left to block footpaths.
The company said that is working with Mayo County Council to “establish parking zones to ensure that the bikes are always parked responsibly and avoid pavement obstructions.”
It also said that it will be “consulting with a range of stakeholders in Castlebar throughout the pilot to ensure that appropriate safety precautions are in place. The company also welcomes any relevant local organisations, who want to reach out and join these discussions.”
Lime said that Ireland is the 36th country in which it is operating in, and that includes over 250 cities, including London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, New York and Washington DC.
Hal Stevenson, senior public affairs manager for Lime in Ireland said: “We are delighted to be launching our first service in Ireland. We look forward to working with Mayo County Council to offer Castlebar residents and visitors a safe and sustainable way to travel around the town.”
“This service will be designed to demonstrate the positive impact shared micromobility schemes can deliver in Irish towns and cities. We can’t wait to get started in Castlebar and to continue our expansion across Ireland,” he said.
Stevenson added: “Safety for all road users is a priority for Lime everywhere we operate. We look forward to working closely with Mayo County Council, and wider stakeholders – including our new Irish Disability Advisory Board – to ensure that our services are safely and responsibly delivered for all road users.”
The Cathaoirleach of Castlebar Municipal District, Councillor Michael Kilcoyne, said: “I am delighted to launch the Lime e-Bike sharing scheme for Castlebar. Castlebar Municipal District has worked hard over the last number of years to improve the cycling infrastructure in and around the town.”
He added: “Now, more than ever, with both the climate and energy crisis it is important to provide facilities that allow the people of Castlebar to choose alternative modes of travel. This e-bike sharing scheme allows us to choose to travel in a more sustainable way and enjoy the social, environmental and health benefits of cycling.”
Lime said it will use its Gen4 bikes in Castebar which its said has “increased motor power to help riders easily climb hills and restart their ride when stopped/stationary at red traffic lights or zebra crossings”, a new phone holder, and an automatic system which removes the need for gears.
The company said that the modular design extends the usable life of the bikes to over 5 years and the bikes will use new batteries, with double the power of previous models which is said would mean “fewer battery swaps will also deliver a more sustainable overall service, with a reduced need for Lime’s operations team to make trips to change vehicle batteries”.