New wheels roll out onto campus

Both Xavier and non-Xavier persons can rent bicycles through the Lime app

This weekend, the California-based company Lime delivered several green and yellow bicycles to campus as part of a planned rollout meant to bring accessible personal transportation to students. In the coming weeks the system will expand to include electronic scooters as well. Lime has implemented similar networks on a number of other campuses around the country, including the University of Notre Dame and most recently the Ohio State University.

Students can rent the bikes and scooters by scanning a QR code with the Lime app. Once scanned, the rear wheel of a LimeBike can be unlocked for riding and the throttle of a Lime scooter can be engaged. When finished, riders need only park their vehicle in a safe and accessible place, usually an existing bike rack, and re-engage the rear wheel lock to end their ride. The app will display the locations of nearby bikes and scooters that are ready for use.

The network is designed to be affordable. Any individual who registers with a .edu email account can choose a daily rental for 50 cents, a weekly rental for $10 or a semester-long rental for $30.

Scooters can likewise be rented ride-to-ride, though information on the actual fee is still forthcoming. Members of the wider community can also use campus LimeBikes for a rental fee of $1 per day, according to Mark Hanlon, the director of utilities and energy for Physical Plant.

The foundations for the partnership with Lime were set last semester, when Sustainability Committee Co-Chair Dr. Nancy Bertaux of the economics department pushed to bring a bike-sharing program to campus in an effort to expand options for eco-friendly transportation.

“In the past we had tried to keep fleets of Xavier bikes, and it was very problematic because it was difficult to get bikes that would be reliable enough. It was just very disappointing to us,” Bertaux said. “In one of my classes last year a student did a project that brought up the advent of these dockless biking systems, and as a result that came up at a Sustainability Committee meeting, and they were very enthusiastic about it. There was a great deal of positive experience with them.”

Over the summer, Hanlon forged an initial agreement with bikeshare company “ofo,” which operates a similar dockless YellowBike system. However, ofo backed out of the partnership as part of a wider move away from servicing vehicle sharing on college campuses. In the wake of the deal falling through, Lime — already in the process of introducing a network on Ohio State’s campus — offered to expand to Xavier at the start of August.

“After (ofo) pulled out I was just incredibly impressed with how fast (Hanlon) was able to find another alternative,” Bertaux said.

The partnership between Lime and Xavier is unique because the company will have exclusive rights to deploy its bikes and scooters on campus. In addition, Xavier is not paying Lime; the university is simply allowing the company to operate on campus.

While students may have noticed the presence of vehicle-sharing competitor Bird scooters in the area, Bird does not have the right to distribute its vehicles on campus, though students can bring them onto campus at will.

There will be no limit as to how far off campus students can take Lime vehicles.

“It’ll be no problem parking a bike in the front of your yard if you’re renting a house off campus,” Hanlon said, “but you can’t have it on your porch or on your back porch. It needs to be visible and accessible for the next person.”

As with any transportation program, safety concerns abound.

“Inevitably there’ll be an accident,” Hanlon said. “Overall, most of (the safety preparations) are common sense rules that we want to follow. Certainly we encourage wearing helmets” (See “Scooter/Bike Rules and Guidelines”).

When asked whether the university or Lime will provide helmets for the program, Hanlon stated, “I’m going to leave that up to Student Government.” When asked to comment, the Student Government Association Executives said Physical Plant had not discussed the matter with them.

Scooter/Bike Rules and Guidelines

  • Scooters (and bikes) are not permitted in any campus buildings.
  • Scooters may only be operated in areas where bicycle traffic is allowed.
  • Scooters should not be operated on sidewalks unless traveling to or from a bicycle rack.
  • Scooters should be operated at a low speed in the presence of pedestrians.
  • Pedestrians have right of way. Riders must yield to pedestrian traffic.
  • Scooters should be parked in bike racks so they do not block access or impede pedestrian traffic. Please be mindful of where the scooter is parked to ensure campus pathways remain accessible and safe.
  • Scooters may not be parked in pedestrian pathways, parking spaces, stairwells, inside buildings or doorways, on ADA ramps or other areas where they block an entrance or exit.

By: Ryan Kambich | Opinions & Editorials Editor