LimeBike rollout at Town Hall, June 2018Roll-out of LimeBike at Town Hall in June 2018.

UPDATED, Jan. 17: Lime bikes -- we hardly knew ye.

The San Francisco-based company has told the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)  about its decision to cycle out of the Boston market, and the word has filtered down to Arlington, Daniel Amstutz, town senior transportation planner, has confirmed.

"The town has been exploring other bike-share options in the event that something like this happens," he wrote in a Jan. 10 email.

The planning department is following up with town manager and the Select Board in January to provide an update on where we are in that process, he wrote.

The town announced in an email update Jan.  17 to expect further word about this to the Select Board at its Jan. 27 meeting.

That update could include guidance about what comes next, after Lime's contracts ends later this year, and the color of bicycles could turn to blue.

BostonCurbed, which first reported the news of Lime's departure Jan. 9, said the area planning council is working with Newton, Watertown, Arlington, Chelsea, and Revere to expand Bluebikes to those municipalities.

The others are looking at the possibility of partnering with other operators, the council told BostonCurbed, though most would require a subsidy from the cities and towns themselves or from a sponsor -- for example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, sponsors Bluebikes.

Lime has served metro Boston with no-cost regional bike sharing since April 2018 and in Arlington since June of that year.

'Tough call'

A letter from Lime to area planning council said that, "after much analysis and internal discussion of the past riding season, we have made the tough call not to renew our regional contract for 2020.”

The company charges riders, but has not taken payments from partnering communities. The dockless bike program allowed riders to leave bikes along the sidewalk, corners or path as long as the bike didn't block the way for pedestrians.

At first using conventional bicycles using app payments, Lime's program morphed into offering pedal-assist e-bikes. Now it is moving to include scooters.

The letter from Lime does not specifically say why it is veering away from conventional bicycles, though it adds that Lime is working with state leaders on Beacon Hill to legalize electric scooter. It adds that scooters "have been very popular in cities across the globe. Our recent scooter pilot in Brookline proved that the same excitement exists here."

The Lime program has attracted high ridership, including Arlington, as reflected in this November news story >> 

Lime's move comes as the company recently announced that it planned to leave several other U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Phoenix and San Diego, as well as Bogota, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro in Latin America, laying off 100 employees.

The letter says that any Lime user with remaining funds in their account can use that balance in any other active Lime market, or receive a refund by request through customer support.


June 29, 2018: Manager unlocks bike-sharing for Arlington


This news summary was published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, and updated Jan. 17, to include town announcement.