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.

Beryl in Hereford and Bournemouth – Data

Beryl has published a couple of snapshots of how they are doing in Hereford and Bournemouth.

They’ve just finished a free bike week in Hereford, where they made their service free to use. They’ve reported 9500km travelled during the week. Assuming an average journey of 1.5km, this equates to 6000 rides in 7 days, or 900 a day. Across the fleet of 125, that suggests over 7 uses per bike per day (t/b/d) – great! They also reported just over 10000 journeys in their first month (this included the free bike week). This suggests an average t/b/d of just under 3 – great numbers.

They’ve also published this graphic showing where in Bournemouth (& adjoining Poole on the left) their bikes are being used – almost everywhere it seems!

Beryl in Bournemouth.

How Many Bikeshare Bikes and eScootershares are in London?

My current estimates are:

SystemDocking StationsBikes
Santander Cycles (Central)7817754
Mobiken/a~1800
Lime-E [pedalecs]n/a~1500
JUMP [pedalecs]n/a>500
Freebike [pedalecs]263*353
Beryl109*169
Santander Cycles (Uxbridge)633
Bird [eScooters]n/a>50

Totals: 9750 manual bikeshare bikes, 2350 pedalec bikeshare bikes, 50 escootersshare scooters.

The numbers above don’t include private systems not open to the public, such as KU Bikes (university students) or IHS Markit Freebike (employees).

* Some docking stations are shared across providers – specifically, Freebike and Beryl share docking stations on the City of London, but not in the other areas they currently operate.

Exeter Co-Bikes Full Relaunch Today

The relaunch of Exeter’s Co-Bikes electric dock-based system has taken place today, following some previous operations the last few weeks. You can see the system live on Bike Share Map.

The new fee is:

Casual
Membership Fee£0
Start Fee£0
Usage Fee£1/20 minutes
Usage CreditN/A
Out-of-Hub End Fee£24+
Out-of-Hub Start CreditN/A

Journeys from 8-24 hours are capped at £24. Maximum hire is 24 hours – bikes hired for longer are assumed lost and the user is charged a hefty penalty.

Just Eat Cycles Sees Record Hires During Edinburgh Festival Month

Edinburgh Just Eat Cycles journeys in August 2019.

Edinburgh‘s Just Eat Cycles has reported a record month in August, the month during which the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival takes place and the capital’s population significantly increases. The system launched in September last year, just too late for the previous Fringe/Festival month. This month, the system managed 17,529 rides, with around 400 bikes available through the month across 70 docking stations. This represents around 1.5 trips per bike per day (t/b/d). The system including the above graphic showing routes taken. Just Eat Cycles has since added some additional bikes in, in early September, and now has around 500 available.

Just Eat Cycles publishes its trip and availability data as open data. The Trip data is published within a day of the trips happening, an impressively quick turnaround. They also publish regular maps showing routes taken. The above map, for August, includes at least one trip to Edinburgh Airport and another trip to Cramond Island (accessible by a causeway only at low tide). The former doesn’t have a docking station so journeys incur an out-of-station fee, but the journey may still have been cheaper than tram/parking surcharges. The latter does at least have a docking station nearby, back on the mainland.

Monthly journeys, bikes and average trips/bike/day for Edinburgh, so far:

MonthTrips*Avg BikesTrips/Bike/Day
September 2018** 22771401.1
October 201837991860.7
November 201840473020.5
December 201836623600.3
January 201947502330.7
February 201942221081.4
March 201965493410.6
April 201981764410.6
May 2019141602581.8
June 2019102142431.5
July 2019122903091.3
August 2019175293861.5

* Journeys on the last day of the month are normally missing from the trips data.
** Launched mid-month.

Hopefully Edinburgh will get to 2 t/b/d soon – a figure which is, very roughly, is a good benchmark for a well used, long-term-viable system. Edinburgh’s design means it can very easily move docking stations around, to adjust to corridors of good use (and low vandalism), although this has to be balanced against the frustration of loyal users finding their docking station has gone.

Bournemouth & Poole See Good Bikeshare Usage During Festival

Bournemouth and Poole’s Beryl Bikes system is reporting 2500 journeys on their fleet during the four days of the Bournemouth Air Festival. In time, the system is planned to have around 1000 bikes, however currently it has around 250 bikes available so this suggests an average of 2.5 journeys/bike/day. These are encouraging numbers, similar to what is seen in London’s Santander Cycles system and possibly larger than any other system in the UK apart from nearby Brighton, showing that the south coast of England is a bit of a winner for bikeshare systems.

It does also suggest that Beryl might have “cracked” how to make a commercially viable, affordable and sustainable mid-size system. Beryl Bikes are dock-based, but the docks are simply painted on the ground.

Brighton’s Popular Bikeshare Sees Charges Increase

BTN Bike Share, an electric hybrid system launched in the tourist and student city on 1 September 2017, has increased its fees for the first time. Previously, casual hires were £1 for up to 35 minutes and then 3p/minute. They are now: £1/hire + 3p/minute. Annual subscriptions are now £72/year with 30 minutes/day ride time (down from 1 hour).

From 1 August 2019 (changes from previous shown in brackets):

CasualAnnual Membership
Membership Fee£0£72
Start Fee£1£0
Usage Fee3p/minute3p/minute
Usage CreditN/A
(was 35 minutes/jny)
30 minutes/day
(was 60 minutes/day)
Out-of-Hub* End Fee£2£2
Out-of-Hub* Start Credit£1£1

* Bikes parked near hubs (e.g. if the hub is full) are not considered to be out-of-hub.

The changes in charges seem designed to encourage shorter journeys, which, as this is a popular, well used system, is likely to make it more efficient. BTN Bike Share may in fact be the UK’s most well used bikeshare system.

Trip Numbers

Some data on usage between the launch and July 2019 (i.e. 22 months):

  • 1.25 million miles travelled (2 million km). With an average of 320 bikes over 570 days that means each bike does an average of 11km a day – impressive!
  • 650,000 journeys. This suggests an average journey of 3km and a typical 3-4 trips per bike per day (t/b/d). 3km is higher than the ~1-2km average distance travelled on a bikeshare bike across other cities, but then research does suggest electric bikeshares typically do result in longer journeys.
  • 80000 subscribers. This sounds like a hugely impressive number considering the population of Brighton – so I wonder if this is actually the number of distinct users, including visitors taking one-off trips. I can’t believe that 80000 people are paying the annual membership fee.
  • As of July 2019, the system reports they have 570 bikes and 68 hubs. On Bike Share Map we’ve seen a maximum of 459 bikes available for hire, seen at the end of May 2019 – a discrepancy of 24%. However, the number of hubs is correct.

Our own t/b/d research, looking at docking station data, suggests:

Q1Q2Q3Q4
2017No data2.3
20181.54.75.43.0
20192.83.9

We detected approximately 690,000 journeys which is broadly consistent with the published number. We notice that Brighton sees around 10% more journeys on weekdays than weekends.

(Data courtesy of James Todd.)

The system is publically funded, with the council investing £290,000, and the national government investing £1.6 million. The council receives back 50% of profits above £330k made by the operator.

BTN Bike Share is operated by Hourbike on behalf of Brighton & Hove City Council. It uses Social Bicycles pedelec bikes, an older version of those used by JUMP systems. Social Bicycles subsequently created the JUMP brand for their electric bikes and were then bought by Uber.

It remains to be seen if the fees increase will dent the popularity of the system, and whether it will cause a shift towards being more tourist used – a less price sensitive segment. Any weekend/weekday t/b/d change should be detectable in due course.

Lime Bikes Now in Google Maps

The Google Maps Android app now shows the locations of available Lime bikes, which, in the UK, operate in much of London, Milton Keynes and Oxford. It is, for now, quite well hidden.

The app shows the bikes as a potential option when planning a journey, although not as a dedicated entry in the mode choice “band”. Instead, they currently appears as:

1. A sub-option when you choose cycling (which you would probably only do if you had your own bike). “Your bike” is the default, but Lime appears as a toggle at the bottom of the app.:

On selecting it, it will show the route to the nearest bike, and also other nearby Lime bikes:

2. An “also consider” option when looking a public transport options – interestingly this one picks a slightly further away Lime bike, but one which results in a much shorter overall journey (7 minutes here) than the “dedicated cyclist” option above:

3. A suggested alternative “route” when looking at the walking route map, which also picks the shortest walk/cycle combination route:

The data displayed includes the number of bikes “nearby”, the walking time to the nearest one, a confirmation that it is an “electric bike” (i.e. pedelec), its battery range, a guideline journey length and time, and an estimated cost.

Google does know Lime’s operating area – if you choose a origin or destination that is outside of it, then the option doesn’t appear. However, it doesn’t show this boundary in the app itself. Lime’s boundary is fairly nebulous – it has two official operating areas in north and south London but in practice currently allows journeys to start/end in the central area between the official areas, without penalties being applied.

One thing to note is, the bikes don’t appear in the app if you are not planning a journey. So it is, for now, rather hidden away. However, the general public will probably not think of using a single-mode app for their journey planning, no matter how each of the operators would love them to. So, having this information on Google Maps is a really big deal for the 99% of people who would see bikeshare as an alternative rather than the first choice mode in their mind. Especially as the other 5 systems currently operating in central London (Santander Cycles, Mobike, Jump, Freebike and Beryl) are not currently offered as an option. Google Maps does show Santander Cycle docking stations (if you zoom right in) with the current number of bikes there, but doesn’t appear to suggest journeys with these.

CityMapper continue to also map Lime bikes, along with Mobike and Santander Cycles – so 3 of the 6 central London systems:

In both Google Maps and CityMapper, the app will switch away to the dedicated Lime app (if you have it installed) when you start a transaction (i.e. hiring the bike).

Lime announced the tie-in on their website. It looks like it is a direct partnership by the two. Lime data is available for some areas in the US (e.g. New York City) via an GBFS-format open data feed, but this does not include London.

TfL’s own journey planner suggests Santander Cycles, but none of the other five, on the journey planner section of its website. Uber’s app is having a go at trying to be a multi-modal planner by including TfL rail/bus options, but of course only its own “Jump” bikes for its bikeshare options. It currently feels like the rail/bus information is only there to highlight how much better/quicker its own options may be.

So, multi-modal journey planning continues to make small improvements, but we are still a long way from any one app showing all the options. Meanwhile, on the City of London/Islington border, six separate systems, all with different operating areas, fees and rules, fight it out, while for large parts of London, only driving, expensive cabs or slow buses remain the only option.