SOUTH BEND — California-based bike sharing startup LimeBike has tapped South Bend as its third U.S. market and could be offering bike rentals here within a week.
Under the LimeBike model, users download a smart phone app that shows them where available bikes are parked. They use the app to unlock the bike, either by scanning a code or typing a number found on the bike into the app. After using a credit card to load money onto an online account, the user’s account is charged $1 per 30 minutes. The trip ends when the user manually presses a lever that locks the back tire.
Attempting to carry the bike away without properly unlocking it via the app triggers an audible alarm.
Most bike sharing systems rolled out in U.S. cities over the past decade have been “smart dock,” requiring the bikes to be parked at digitally equipped docking stations and typically requiring cities, universities and sponsors to subsidize their acquisition and maintenance, often to the tune of about $5,000 per bike, according to LimeBike.
But LimeBike is among the first companies to pioneer a “smart bike” or “dock-less bike share” model, in which bikes are GPS-enabled and can be left anywhere, requiring no expenditures by the city or other sponsors.