Lime: European launch in Paris

LimeBike, the company behind the green e-bikes and e-scooters that have taken the United States by storm, is now moving to Europe. Soon after Uber announced that their Jump Bikes will be taking over Berlin by the end of the summer, LimeBike announced their European launch, expected to happen on Friday, June 22, 2018 in Paris, France. 

A report from CNN Money confirms that the local government supports any move that will allow Parisians to move about easily. The spokesperson for the mayor commented: 

. . . it must be organized, there will be a charter to regulate this service, [and] they must be kept off the pavements and not interrupt pedestrian movements
— Matthieu Lamarre, Spokesperson for the Mayor of Paris

Despite the reserved support of the local government, Paris remains an interesting choice for Lime. Vélib', the bike-sharing service which was operated by JCDecaux in Paris for more than 10 years, concluded its operations at the end of 2017, after a procurement by the City of Paris saw a new bike provider (Smovengo) win a €700m deal to run the bike service for the next 15 years. The historic Vélib' service was often seen as the pride of Paris - a service copied by cities like London and Seattle. Despite the rosy past, the roll out of the new service (called Vélib' Métropole) by Smovengo has been bumpy so far, with very few bikes and functioning stations deployed.

The vacuum left by Vélib' (and Vélib' Métropole's delayed deployment - often seen as a result of a lawsuit filed by previous provider, JCDecaux) was exploited by dockless bike operators, such as Ofo and gobee.bikes, that rushed to drop their bikes to the French capital. Interestingly, these bikes have not been popular with Parisians, who are reportedly used to the higher quality bicycles of Velib. Gobee.bikes, for example, pulled out of Paris soon after launching - citing vandalism of their bikes as the reason for their exit.

As of recently, the French capital was overflowing with destroyed and/or abandoned gobee.bikes. An opportunity for a new means of transportation is evident - but will the demanding, bike connoisseurs of Paris switch to Lime's scooters, and will Lime manage to preserve a good relationship with the local government, given the recent upheaval caused by dockless bike operators?

Andrew Kyprianides