Lime Could Have Bitter End

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Looks like Lime might get squeezed—out of Rockaway. According to a report by The City, the Department of Transportation announced that the dockless bike-share pilot in Rockaway will end after the summer.

By this point, many are used to seeing the green bikes around town, that are readily available for rent to zip around the peninsula. Despite a few hiccups, like bikes being left in inconvenient places and vandalism, the program that began as a pilot last summer, has seemingly been a success. So much so that around Memorial Day weekend this year, Lime announced that their pilot was being extended through September and expanded from 400 to 600 electric bikes, after the bikes were utilized more than 90,000 times. However, in some surprising news, on July 22, online news source, The City reported that the DOT would be ceasing the pilot after this summer in both Rockaway and Fordham, while working to make Staten Island’s bike share program a permanent fix.

The Rockaway Times reached out to the DOT for confirmation of the report, which replied that Lime's end may not be so definite. "While the pilot program is ending, we have made no decision yet on permanently removing bikes. We will work with the community and bike share companies to determine the future. We will have more to say by the end of the summer," DOT's Assistant Press Commissioner Scott Gastel said.

According to Councilman Donovan Richards, who requested an expansion of the pilot earlier this year, he’s going to continue to fight for the service to stay in Rockaway.  

“We’ve seen the success of the dockless bike share pilot for residents and tourists all across the Rockaway Peninsula,” Richards said. “When it comes to our transit options, the one thing Rockaway residents can count on is disruptions, which is why the bike share program has served so many people regardless of whether they are heading to the beach, back home to public housing or just need to take a quick trip to the bank. Our office is committed to working with the Department of Transportation and Lime to ensure that this critical new mode of transit stays in the Rockaways for good.”

The Rockaway Times also reached out to Lime for comment. Phil Jones, Senior Director of East Coast Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships at Lime, responded, saying, "We've really enjoyed serving the Rockaways and are proud of the partnerships we established there. Lime pedal-assist bikes have helped residents and visitors get around in an area where transit options are few and far between, furthering transportation equity in a fun and sustainable way. We view this pilot as a success and look forward to continuing to serve New Yorkers in more ways going forward."

This news comes just about a week after the city announced that there will be a widespread expansion of another bikeshare program—Citibike. This docked bike option will double its service area to 70 miles and triple its fleet to 40,000 bikes by 2023. However, not in Rockaway. The expansion will include Ridgewood, Queens, more areas in Manhattan and the south Bronx, and then neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, and Sunnyside, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona in Queens.

In the meantime, e-scooters could be the next Lime bike. In June, a bill to legalize e-scooter rentals in New York City, except for Manhattan, passed state legislation. It is not clear if the bill has been signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo or when the program could potentially start. Lime, which operates e-scooters in other big cities around the country, says the idea has gained local support from groups like the Rockaway Youth Task Force, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and Camp Rockaway, which all signed letters of support prior to the vote.

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