Lime Reports 1 Million Rides in London

Lime’s “Lime-E” pedelec bikeshare system in London has hit one million rides since launch, 11 months ago – an average of just over 3000 rides per day.

I estimate that Lime currently has around 1500 bikes on the road, up slightly from 1400 in February and 1000 shortly after launch. So, averaging 1300 bikes across 330 days we have a good average utilisation rate of 2.3 trips per bike per day (t/b/d). This compares quite well with around 2.5 for JUMP, the rival dockless pedelec system, and around 3 for Santander Cycles, London’s preeminent public system. (JUMP’s estimate is just for the more popular summer period as they launched this May, while Lime and Santander Cycles both include the tougher winter period – so I would expect JUMP and Lime to end up with around the same year-averaged t/b/d rate after this winter).

Lime also report 2 million km for the 1 million journeys, so an average distance of 2km. This is slightly more than the typical 1.6km journey we see for unpowered systems, although slightly less than the typical 3km journey I would expect for powered systems – perhaps due to constraints in where the bikes are available (although Lime does have the best coverage in London – even after their winter reduction) or the high cost of each journey – Lime is far and away the most expensive of the six central London systems – only Bird’s scooters in the Olympic Park are more, and those are targeted at tourists anyway, so less of an issue.

Winter Reductions for Mobike and Lime in London

Both Lime and Mobike have reduced their operating areas in London, for the winter.

Lime have removed their south London “official” area and correspondingly drawn up their unofficial “unserviced” area too. They are out of Croydon, Sutton and Bromley officially, as well as Kingston and Merton. However, south of the river, they are still in Lambeth, Wandsworth and Richmond unofficially, as well as in various North London boroughs.

Lime’s official operating area:

Lime’s implicit operating area – covering the above (white area) plus an area in grey where they don’t guarantee service – i.e. they won’t stock bikes here – but you can end your journey here without penalty:

Mobike have also announced that they are once again reducing their operating footprint, for winter, however they have not yet made the change. Mobike’s current (summer) area:

While this might look like an abandonment of areas, Mobike did do the same in late 2018 and came back in early 2019, so with luck, south London’s provision will again increase next year. However, for commuters or other regular users in south London, the removal of this option must be quite frustrating!

By way of comparison, here’s the operating footprint for the other dockless operator, JUMP:

The other operators in London (Santander Cycles x2, Freebike, Beryl, KU Bikes) are dock or hub-based.

I don’t have any up-to-date information on Bird in the Olympic Park.

Santander Cycles Expanding in London – Very Slowly

South London looks like it will be getting an expansion of the Santander Cycles dock-based bikeshare system – eventually. Southwark council has approved an extension to Bermondsey, Rotherhithe and Walworth – 18 new docking stations, but you’ll have to wait up to two years for them to be implemented. It also has plans to extend down Camberwell and Peckham – but these further 21 docking stations may not be appearing until 2023.

The slow rollout is being funded by different parties – TfL along its “red routes”, developers at major housing projects, and the borough itself – the docking stations themselves being the major expense, as they require an electricity supply and internet connection, and have to go through the full planning process with detailed design documents.

The Santander Cycles system currently has 777 docking stations with 20495 docking points, servicing around 8400 bikes, with an average straight-line closest distance between docking stations being just 213m. The Southwark expansion therefore represents around a 5% expansion of the system.

Sooner than this expansion, it is expected that the Santander Cycles system will start to introduce electric-assist bicycles (pedelecs). These were first demonstrated at the London Car Free day in September and will likely debut in “revenue” service soon – hopefully early next year. It is unclear how these will be managed – whether they will be charged at all docking stations, at certain designated docking stations, or whether the batteries will be mechanic-replaced and the bikes will continue to use docking stations like the regular bikes. Already there are two versions of the (non-electric) fleet in simultaneous use – the original PBSC “Bixi” bikes which launched in 2010, and the Pashley-designed bikes (denoted 5xxxx) which launched in 2017.

Meanwhile, central London’s five other bikeshare systems continue to evolve and adapt at pace, with Beryl launching an electric version of their fleet next year, and JUMP, Freebike and Lime already electric.