Lime UK manager Jaanaki Momaya tells Compelo about the company's 1,000-strong e-bike fleet in London and what it has learned from the San Francisco fiasco
It’s not just US cities that play host to electric bicycles and scooters – London has been busy welcoming more and more companies offering shared mobility schemes, with Lime and its e-bike being the most recent arrival.
Over the past two months, the UK capital has bolstered its vast transportation infrastructure, with 1,000 Lime-E battery-powered bikes from the San Franciscan firm introduced into the Ealing and Brent boroughs.
This comes at a time when the city is improving its sustainable travel efforts, with a planned ultra-low emissions zone in the works to charge pre-2015 diesels and pre-2006 petrol cars £12.50 every day they’re in the existing congestion charge zone in central London.
With a global fleet of more than 35,000 bikes in over 100 countries, Lime has accommodated roughly 20 million rides to-date and has secured the backing of blue ribbon investors like Google’s parent company Alphabet and Uber.
It’s not all been plain sailing, however, as along with a number of other electric bike and scooter companies, it began operating in San Francisco without a permit and was ultimately banned from the city in June last year.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) subsequently allowed just two e-bike businesses to operate in the city – Skip and Scoot – in a decision Lime has appealed.
Here we speak with the company’s UK manager Jaanaki Momaya to find out more about the situation and how Lime is fitting in with London’s existing mobility ecosystem.
Tell us about Lime’s London launch and what residents get from the service
There’s no doubting that London is one of the most quickly devolving cities in the UK when it comes to mobility, and we want help accelerate this development by introducing new products to the market.
The Lime-E is dockless, which means they can be parked anywhere, making last-mile travel easier than ever.
They are also electric and can reach up to 14.8mph, meaning they are a great option for riders of all levels and all ages, as well as any tricky, uphill terrain.
Not only are the e-bikes easy to find and unlock using the Lime app but they’re also suited for all purposes from family day trips to running local errands.
The Lime-E is also an easy, affordable, last-mile solution for commuters travelling between their local tube, train or bus station and their home.
It offers Londoners a great sustainable transport option, helping them to easily reduce their carbon footprint and make a greener capital for everyone.
And cycling has a variety of health benefits, including increased energy levels, improved cardiovascular fitness and a positive impact on mental well-being.
What role does Lime plan to play in the future of London mobility?
We are committed to pioneering urban mobility at both the individual city level and the global level by reimagining sustainable mobility and creating products that employ cutting-edge technology.
Cities are becoming more personalised when it comes to transport offerings and residents are increasingly looking for transport solutions that suit their own personal needs.
We believe this is why Lime’s launch has resonated well with Londoners – the Lime-E is an easy, convenient and accessible transport solution that is able to take you right to the door of your destination.
As the city’s population grows, and more and more Londoners embrace the sharing economy, we can only expect to see new shared mobility solutions thrive.
What has Lime learned from the San Francisco ban?
As a company with more than 300 employees headquartered in the city, Lime is committed to serving San Francisco.
Its under-served communities and often overlooked neighbourhoods deserve to be included in the city’s powered scooter share programme – Lime remains ready, willing and able to serve them.
We look forward to the SFMTA hearing section’s decision, and hope that we will have the opportunity to provide San Franciscans with the mobility options they deserve.
As Lime continues to expand, we know the importance of working together with city councils and the relevant authorities to ensure new cities experience the benefits of Lime transport.
What impact have investors such as Uber had on Lime’s business?
We’re thrilled that Lime has experienced investors like Alphabet’s Google Ventures and Uber involved in helping the company expand globally.
Our partnership with Uber has led to some great developments, including showing Lime scooter locations on the Uber app in certain cities.
For now, this remains available only in the US, though.
What are your thoughts on London’s upcoming low emissions zone?
The ultra-low emission zone will be a great step forward for London and reaffirms the city’s commitment to tackling air pollution.
While there might be some opposed to its implementation and the costs associated for drivers, cities need to act now to become more sustainable and provide the best quality of life possible for their inhabitants, and London is no exception.
Lime is committed to helping with these changes, which is why we’re proud to be pioneering an environmentally, carbon emission-free mode of transport.
Are public sectors across the world doing enough to encourage environmentally-sustainable urban travel?
There is definitely an increasing trend of city councils looking to encourage more sustainable approaches to mobility in their cities and finding alternative methods of transport that are more environmentally conscious.
We are working closely with local councils across London to seamlessly ingratiate our offering into the city.
We have also seen a positive rise in cycling infrastructure in larger cities in the UK in recent years, as well as a move to encourage electric or more environmentally-friendly car – which is certainly a step in the right direction.