Lime-Green Dockless Bikes Haven’t Yet Been Deployed in Ocean Beach, Says Company’s General Manager

by on March 29, 2018 · 13 comments

in Ocean Beach

Dockless bike company reps – standing L to R: Kevin of Mobikes, Zack of LimeBikes and Anna of Ofo; also standing is chair Marcus Turner.

The general manager of the lime-green dockless bikes denied that they had launched in Ocean Beach.

Zack Bartlett, general manager of LimeBike San Diego, told the crowd at the Ocean Beach Town Council meeting Wednesday night his bikes have not been deployed in OB, that the green bikes people see are from Point Loma and other communities where they have been deployed.

A number of people present questioned this claim.

The OB Town Council had invited representatives of different dockless – or bikeshare – companies to make presentations and answer residents’ questions and concerns during a forum hosted by the Board during their regular monthly meeting at the Masonic Center.

Besides Bartlett of LimeBike, Board Chair Marcus Turner introduced Anna from Ofo bikes and Kevin from Mobikes – all three made their pitches – and answered some questions.

Anna had a 2-sided flier she passed out explaining how the bikes are used; Ofo hasn’t deployed in OB yet, she told the crowd. Ofo is the largest company, originating in China and having bikes in 20 countries worldwide and in 200 cities, including a bunch in the US.

Kevin said Mobikes hasn’t been launched in OB either. He said his company has 9 million bikes, their users have traveled 30 million miles, and they’re in 16 countries.

Bartlett added that LimeBike is the only American-based company and they’re in 50 cities.

But it was Bartlett’s claim that LimeBike hadn’t been deployed in Ocean Beach that brought the most reaction. Board member Gio Ingolia immediately questioned the assertion and stated that out of the blue the green bikes appeared around OB. Suddenly overnight, he said, “there were ten bikes neatly lined up at the corner of Niagara and Bacon,” plus a similar group the same time at the small Entryway Park at Sunset Cliffs and West Point Loma. Ingolia added, addressing Bartlett, “It doesn’t help that you won’t confirm it.”

Board member Jon Carr raised a couple of issues, as well. “What’s to prevent,” he asked,”after a special event in OB, that local groups will have to clean up all the bikes?” Examples were made of the Chili Cook-Off or the annual Street Fair, where thousands of people stream into OB – and with dockless bikes, many may be abandoned by their users. Anna from Ofo replied her company is working with local groups to prevent this type of situation.

Carr also reminded the audience dockless bikes “are not as important as STVRs [short term vacation rentals]” in terms of threatening Ocean Beach. “Let’s paint STVRs lime green,” he said, “to see how important STVRs are.”

It also turned out none of the bike companies have contacted the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association. CEO Denny Knox said, “We have merchants who rent bikes,” and “The OBMA hasn’t heard from any of you guys.” She then asked, “Are you coming to talk to us?” There were some verbal  commitments by a couple of the reps to do that.

Fox5 reported:

We’re asking people just to bear with us and view the positives,” said Zack Bartlett, general manager of LimeBike San Diego.

Bartlett said LimeBike operates in Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego and has yet to launch in Ocean Beach. He said the bikes are tracked and picked up nightly and the bikes are to stay within the areas where they are launched, but often it depends on ridership.

“If one ends up in San Ysidro and it’s constantly getting rides then, by all means, we like to see that,” said Bartlett

Chair Turner skillfully guided the back-and-forth Q’s and A’s, as each response from one of the bike reps elicited more hands being raised with questions.

One OBcean in the back of the room raised safety as an issue with the bikes. He said an underage kid user had run into 2 people in their sixties and sent them to urgent care. “OB is clearly not a community for this program,” he said. The community is already very congested and it’s “hard to see the bikes at night.”

Kevin of Mobikes said there’s an emergency number on every bike and they’re available 24/7.

One woman complained of being knocked down by a scooter. None of the companies in the room have scooters. Someone asked “why dockless?” It makes the bikes more accessible and equitable, Kevin replied.

A couple of people asked about numbers of visitor users versus local users and more general figures now that the companies have been deploying their bikes for months. But no one had any numbers for San Diego. Anna of Ofo claimed in Seattle they found 50% of start and stops of their bikes were at transit stops.

There were more complaints of the bikes taking up public space or being left on private property. Board member Priscilla Turner offered that many complaints seem to be based on the users not being considerate.

Some discussion ensued when an audience member raised the point “there’s no repercussions to users for leaving bikes in the right of way or on private property.” Mobikes has a point system, Kevin explained, and penalizes users for bad parking, etc.

One person responded, “There are too many points given out. Infractions should be banned.”

However, Zack of LimeBikes said it’s too difficult to determine which user or who did the vandalism; they don’t wish to ban anyone unless it’s confirmed they were responsible.

A woman asked, “Are any of you giving money into the bike infrastructure?” This was met with silence, until Anna did say Ofo is sharing data with the city, and that can show the city where bikers are actually riding.

Another concern: are the bikes sanitized after each use? Anna said her bikes are sanitized when they go into maintenance. But it’s unclear how often that happens. The other bike reps failed to respond.

It happened today, someone said, at the Farmers Market. They saw a lime bike being used by a homeless person.

The response from the audience towards the dockless bikes was not all negative. One woman said, “The more bikes I see, the more people is see riding bikes, the happier I am.”

“This kind of service,” she added, “brings San Diego up in the world.”

One guy said, “I’m glad you’re here,” to the bike company reps. “[The bikes] cut cars from the road.” He continued that he’d been in China, in a city of 20 million and their bike program is working.

“People,” he said, “can be disrespect with any vehicle.”

Fox5 also reported:

Larry Gustafson, one of dozens of people who attended an Ocean Beach Town Council meeting Wednesday night, called the bikes a nuisance. “I think they should pick them up and return them to the same place,” said Gustafson, who has lived in Ocean Beach for 66 years. “We walk our dog down to Sunset Cliffs around the neighborhoods and you have to walk around the bikes,” Gustafson said. “My wife eventually is going to trip over one.”

Turner brought the questioning to a close with one last one of his own. “What have you learned from all the community meetings you’ve attended?”

Zack Bartlett – the LimeBikes guy – responded. They’ve learned about safety and cleanliness issues; and the effect on small businesses. “We’ve found it helps small businesses,” he said, “Businesses want them.”

Tell that, my friend, to Denny Knox.

 

Fox5

 

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page March 29, 2018 at 5:47 pm

The Lime Bike people are lying. I often run at night and I was running down by Dog Beach the night these things showed up. I found about 15 to 20 0f these bikes all lined up perfectly in a semi-circle behind the bollards that keep cars from driving into Dog Beach. Perfectly lined up. I do not believe that 15 to 20 people showed up at Dog Beach and were polite enough to park these bikes so nicely, especially after seeing what has been happening. I would vote to remove the Lime Green company immediately because of this and let the other bike companies approach Ocean Beach honestly.

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Frank March 30, 2018 at 5:53 am

You need to present evidence before making such a bold claim.
How can you prove LB, themselves are bringing them in and instead people aren’t riding them in?
People do ride bikes you know… the whole purpose of the things is to be ridden.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 30, 2018 at 9:55 am

An eyewitness report is solid evidence.

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Geoff Page March 30, 2018 at 2:02 pm

If you read what I wrote, you wouldn’t suggest people are just riding them in. 15 to 20 bikes all parked perfectly facing the same direction on the same angles evenly spaced all in one spot? So all these people rode in from elsewhere in one night, to Dog Beach, at night, and left the bikes neatly parked like that? Of course not, have you seen anyone parking the bikes like that now? Who would ride from Point Loma and other communities and leave the bikes there and then what? These were the only ones I saw in the whole parking lot. No, there is no way these wound up here like that.

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Dave March 29, 2018 at 10:47 pm

1. I’m with Geoff calling BS on the Lime claim. Once dockless started, my neighborhood was inundated overnight (though I live on Famosa Slough, about a mile east of what most folks would consider OB proper). Lime was everywhere in a few days, it took a couple weeks for the ofos to start showing up and I’m still not sure I’ve ever seen a Mobike even though my work takes me all over the city.

2. Lime definitely offers scooters – I saw one when I was out for a walk yesterday parked in front of the Mariner’s Cove apartments around the 4400 block of W. Pt. Loma.

3. Demanding someone sanitize the bikes after every ride? Bashing them or scaremongering because they might be useful and/or affordable to homeless people? These points seem a little off the deep end…

4. This has certainly been a messy and chaotic rollout, but I’m hopeful that in the end the dockless model will prove successful – docked bikes sounded like a step in the right direction, but absent a dock at every bus stop and shopping center this is the only model that bridges the first/last mile problem with transit. That said, I’m holding off judgment to see if operators can address the entirely legit concerns regarding placement, maintenance, and vandalization.

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Geoff Page March 30, 2018 at 2:11 pm

I agree, Chris, this might be a good thing at some point but the roll out was handled horribly and you have to wonder what this is doing to the small bike shops that rent bikes too.

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Dave March 31, 2018 at 10:18 pm

I’m Dave, man, Chris is my wife (and she’s a lot more anti-dockless than I am). And I agree, the rollout has been so terrible it might have permanently tainted the concept.

So far as shops that specialize in rentals, this is a killer. My hope would be that there’s still a market for other tourist rentals like boogie/surf/paddleboards, and the loss of local revenue stream here is both all but guaranteed and equally regrettable. That said, while I think there are plenty of valid arguments against the system as it’s currently being implemented, suggesting that locals should be denied access to bikes because it’ll hurt the pocketbooks of businesses that only serve the needs of tourists seems pretty far down on the list.

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Chris April 2, 2018 at 5:26 pm

I don’t think they will have much impact on traditional renal outfits. People are still going to want to rent bikes for the whole day, or even a few hours and not have to pay by the half hour. Plus they will want proper beach cruisers for riding up and down the boardwalk (which is where the majority of bike rentals are anyway). Dockless bikes are pretty much for getting from point a to b.

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kh April 6, 2018 at 11:12 am

I saw a few of these parked right nextdoor to the bike rental shop on Cable st, and in front of Bernie’s.

Try selling some $1 bbq sandwiches on the street in front of BBQ house and see what happens…

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mjt March 30, 2018 at 6:09 am

Why do these bike polluters get a free ride? Their two wheeled garbage cluttering the environment is predatory, maybe Jeff Bezos should buy in, this behavior is right up his alley.
Visual and physical pollution coming from a sector that is supposed to be environmental friendly, i guess this is the American way.

How much support are these predators getting from the hotel industry? It appears that the hotel crowd wants to turn San Diego into America’s playground.

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Chris March 30, 2018 at 12:58 pm

You said “bike polluters” and “two wheeled garbage”. LOL!!

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bo bo March 30, 2018 at 8:49 am

Agreed…the Limebike guy is either lying or is ignorant to his own operations. Those bikes suddenly appeared in HUGH numbers and parked in a way the proves they were “distributed” by the company.
I have pictures to prove this!
There is no way that hundreds of riders all came into OB one day, parked their bikes on Newport, nicely aligned and in a row.
He must be a proponent of “alternate facts”. He single-handedly undermined any credibility he or his company may have with our neighborhood.

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Geoff Page March 30, 2018 at 2:10 pm

The article said the bike companies don’t have scooters. I was walking my dogs in the Point Loma Plant Reserve this morning and my dog led me through some bushes where I came upon a Lime Bike Scooter one of the homeless who hang out there had stashed. So, another lie by the Lime Bike folks.

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