They are bright green, parked in various spots across the peninsula, and while some locals brand them as a fluorescent nuisance, for others, they have become a precious commodity for speedy commuting. However, these dockless LimeBikes serve up more than that, as they also serve as a source of income and learning for local youth. The Rockaway Times (RT) had the pleasure of chatting with one of these young people, Daniel Camacho, after observing him and his crew on the street stooped in front one of the bikes, fixing it.
Camacho, aged 17, born and raised in Rockaway, is a senior at Channel View School for Research (CVSR), and works for Lime as a Brand Ambassador. When approached by the RT, he said that he and his team were swapping out a battery. Camacho then shared that his role as Lime’s Rockaway Brand Ambassador, is not just to promote usage of the bikes, safe riding and parking behavior, but through Lime’s GPS app, to locate the bikes, and remove them from places where they shouldn’t be parked. He also makes sure the batteries are working, the bikes are in good condition, and if a problem appears to be too technical for them to solve, he brings it up to Lime’s technical operations department.
Camacho said he started with Lime as a volunteer with the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA). “When I first saw the LimeBikes in Rockaway this past July, I was intrigued. It was so interesting to me that you can just pull out your phone, scan a barcode and climb on a bike,” he said.
Camacho said he has been a volunteer with the RWA since the summer of 2015. “I was an active member of CVSR’s environmental club, and our advisor told us about RWA’s Shore Corps Program. The RWA has given so many students such as myself a working experience for a positive cause — protecting and improving our local environment with activities like beach clean-ups, beach plantings, education on ocean surges, and why our local dunes are constantly being depleted of sand. I really care about protecting our environment, and have learned how we mess it up, without actually being aware of what our actions are causing,” he said.
Camacho said in 2017, he was awarded a specific role to boost the RWA’s social media presence amongst youth, to get them involved in helping the environment. He remarked, “People my age prefer Instagram because we like something quick and simple. The downside is that so much fake news is spread, but I guess we just have to be smart, and figure out what is fact from fiction.”
Then this past summer, Lime was tabling at a RWA event, and Camacho said he was immediately hooked. “Bike-sharing reduces carbon emissions, with the added boost of exercise. The Lime app shows you how many miles you’ve ridden and calories burned. It’s great. Also, it’s quick transportation for people going to and from the ferry, or the nearest subway or bus for transportation to work. For me, it’s a no brainer.”
Camacho said after expressing interest in working for Lime, he took a mandatory Mechanics 101 class with the company. “In the class, we learned how to fix the brakes, how to swap the batteries, tools we would need, and how to use the app to locate the bikes and what areas we need to place them,” he said.
When asked, what are the most bizarre places, he’s seen LimeBikes parked, Camacho laughed. “Besides the app showing us the bikes are parked in people’s garages, in the sand, in the middle of the street or sidewalk; the craziest was one that was hung from a tree. It takes a lot of upper body strength to do that.”
To make his job a bit easier Camacho hopes to make riders familiar with some Dos and Don’ts, on where not to park a Lime bike: Do not park a LimeBike in front of a car, in your garage, on the street, in the sand, in the bike lane on the boardwalk, in your building’s parking lot, on school grounds, and of course, do not hang it from a tree. Also, bike helmets are only required for children 13 years and under, but of course, are encouraged for anyone while riding the bike, especially the electric-assisted Lime Bikes, which can go up to 15 miles per hour.
Gil Kazimirov, Lime’s NYC General Manager, said when he met Camacho and learned about his interests and passion for the environment and technology, he hired him immediately. “Hiring Daniel as a Brand Ambassador was an easy decision. We started promoting Lime with local organizations like the RWA and the Rockaway Youth Task Force because we wanted to form alliances with the community and its stakeholders. The youth here have expressed so much interest in bike-sharing, and its positive impact on the environment. Also, as a pilot program, we get to learn the concerns of the community, what is actually needed, and what we need to improve,” Kazimirov said.
When asked what Lime plans to do as the weather gets colder, and snow is on the horizon, Kazimirov said, “We plan to keep the bikes here as long as the weather permits. We are a pilot program with the Department of Transportation, so we are hoping to keep the bikes here, however, of course our riders’ safety is the priority, and in the meantime, we just want people to enjoy them.”
As for Camacho, who has aspirations to pursue a degree in computer science, he shared that working for Lime has been a positive experience. “I’ve always been interested in computers and technology, curious about how a giant brick machine evolved into something you could now just slip in your pocket. Working with Lime has blessed me with invaluable experience, and I keep learning more and more about the technology. Plus with the added bonus of helping the environment and learning about other areas of the peninsula I had never been to, because of Lime I’ve been exposed to and learned a lot about not just technology, but Rockaway,” Camacho said.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS