The next wave of dockless bikes is about to hit London and this time it’s going to be electric. Lime, a company backed by Uber and Google, plans to launch 1,000 of its Lime-E dockless electric bikes in to the boroughs of Brent and Ealing before the end of 2018, making cycling more accessible than ever – in north-west London at least.
Here at Coach we’re fans of anything that will get people cycling and we’ve long championed the e-bike as pretty much the perfect option for commuting in cities as long as you don’t have to lug the heavy beasts up a stairwell to your flat, so this is a development we’re excited to see. That said, the potential problems that can arise from all dockless bikes – that people will leave them in inconvenient or dangerous locations – could be exacerbated by the fact the Lime-E weighs a hefty 35kg (consumer versions are generally between 20kg and 25kg). Let’s assume the best of people, however, and rely on them leaving the e-bikes in sensible places.
The Lime-E, like all e-bikes, will only assist riders up to the speed of around 25km/h, after which you’re on your own. Before that point the 250-watt motor will aid your pedalling to make cycling accessible to all, no matter what your fitness level.
Hiring one of Lime’s bright green e-bikes is pricier than non-motorised options: it will cost £1 to unlock the bike and a further 15p for every minute you ride. A journey of 30 minutes will set you back £5.50 in total, then, while the Santander-sponsored docked bikes cost £2 to unlock for 24 hours and rides of 30 minutes or less are free, while you pay £2 for every additional 30-minute period.
As with other dockless bikes you use an app to locate and unlock Lime bikes, which have a range of around 100km when fully charged. You can check the battery level of the bike in the partner app to ensure you don’t run out of juice halfway up a massive hill.
Lime launched its first wave of e-bikes in the UK in Milton Keynes in late November, but the American company’s signature hire vehicle – an electric scooter – is currently only legal to ride on private land in the UK.