Business

Leave your car at home. Bike sharing appears to be rolling into Tacoma

A screenshot of Lime’s bikeshare website.
A screenshot of Lime’s bikeshare website.

Bike sharing plans are in the works for Tacoma.

Lime, a bike and scooter rental company (you might be familiar with its neon-colored LimeBike fleet in Seattle), is advertising for an operations manager in Tacoma.

The company is in a permit review process with Tacoma, Megan Snow, media contact for the city said Tuesday in response to questions from The News Tribune.

Lime also confirmed its status.

“Lime has applied to operate in Tacoma, and we are working to ensure we have undertaken all appropriate outreach and permitting with the City,” Lime’s Gabriel Scheer, director of strategic initiatives, told The News Tribune in an emailed response.

No further details were available.

Lime is one of several bikeshare start-ups that have launched nationwide as an option outside of traditional bike shop rentals.

The businesses offer economical transportation rental options starting at $1 for those who’d rather two-wheel it to their destinations than drive or catch a rideshare. The trend has caught on particularly in metros were parking is a premium, such as Seattle and Chicago.

Some bikeshares involve a docked rent and return system for customers, a business model Tacoma studied in a feasibility study in 2017.

Seattle’s initial municipal bikeshare docking system was replaced by the free-form model used by Lime and others, where bikes are found by an app and GPS. After the ride, the bikes are left along a sidewalk for retrieval, with a security code required to release the bike from its rear-wheel lock.

Lime’s online video offers more details.

As Wired describes it: “With nothing to build, a city can introduce a new way of getting around virtually overnight.”

That’s good news for Tacoma, with downtown developments increasingly not focused so much on parking but creating a walkable city.

In Seattle, one tradeoff for the convenient business model has been bikes being left in strange places. Other cities have noted problems with vandalism or theft. Bikeshare operators told The Washington Post in July that they see these issues drop off after a period of operation.

Seattle’s Department of Transportation did a free-floating bike share study in 2017. It sought to “balance the need for these insights with customer privacy considerations and commit to evolving our permit over time to align with new industry standards and regulations.”

Bikes blocking access or as blocking hazards were listed as concerns.

“Too many bikes are parked incorrectly, blocking sidewalks, curb ramps, and transit access,” the report said. “In future permits, SDOT will require that companies submit comprehensive parking plans with permit applications. Companies with superior plans will be more likely to receive a permit.”

Lime operates nationwide, with Seattle and Bothell its two Washington sites. It also operates in Portland. Lime also has operations overseas.

For its Tacoma operation, it is seeking a manager for a team of four to 20 operations specialists working to bring its scooters and bikes to Tacoma.

“The field operations teams are at the center of our strategy to transform urban commuting and help people get where they need to go!” the job posting states.

Duties include coaching and mentoring the team, along with moving and lifting cycles and scooters up to 40 pounds. The manager also will keep track of data, complaints and supply/demand to come up with “efficient routes and dispatch actions to be performed by field specialists.”

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell

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