Aldermen talk bike concept for the city

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

Starkville could be the first city in Mississippi to adopt a new form of transportation through Lime’s “smart mobility.”

If approved during Tuesday’s meeting, Lime’s smart pedal bikes— along with possible electric-assist bikes and electric scooters — may be rolling through Starkville in the near future.'

The board of Aldermen held a work session Friday in preparation for Tuesday’s regular meeting, where city leaders discussed the burgeoning concept.

Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A’.Perkins was not present for the work session. Perkins said his absence was due to “urgent legal obligations.”

Two presentations were given in Friday’s work session. First, Lime Operations Manager John Usry gave a presentation to the board about what Lime could bring to Starkville and what makes Lime different.

“We’re really trying to change the way cities move,” Usry opened. “(We’re) really trying to accommodate the no-car lifestyle, which is a lot easier on city infrastructures."

As opposed to competing with other local transportation, though, Lime tries to complement other transit options.

“We want to support local economies and not come in here to take over transportation, but really help it be better,” Usry said.

Unlike more traditional bike industries with docked bikes, Lime looks to make biking smarter with dock-free technology.

“You don’t have to put (the bikes) in a certain location. They have a lock built into the frame — same thing with all of our vehicles,” Usry said. “As long as they’re not in the way, you can park them.”

The premise is for the user to unlock a bike, ride the bike where the user needs to go, park the bike in an acceptable area, then lock the bike.

Lime tracks the bikes’ locations through GPS.

Users access the bikes through a Lime mobile app, which integrates pricing, location and the unlocking of the bikes.

“It’s really easy to use, which makes it simple to teach people how to use,” Usry said of the app.

To unlock a bike costs $1, and the ongoing rate afterward is five cents per minute until the bike is locked.

Although Starkville would start with Lime’s smart pedal bikes — which operate like regular bikes — Lime also offers electric assist bikes and electric scooters.

The electric options also charge a $1 fee but charge 15 cents per minute.

Lime requires no city funding.

Lime launched on Mississippi State University on Labor Day, and there have already been over 2,000 rides among its 200 Lime bikes.

The Lime rate for students is a $1 fee, then 50 cents for every 30 minutes.

To access the student fee, the student has to log in with their “edu” email address.

If Lime were to launch in Starkville, it would bring close to 100 smart pedal bikes to 22 deployment locations across the city.

The areas would include but are not limited to, Main Street, Midtown, the Cotton District and Russell Street areas.

The user data would also generate data for Starkville to use, determining where people most often use the bikes.

In terms of bike parking, the city can determine "no-parking zones," which would be indicated to the user on the app and through a message.

If the user disobeys, the user would then be fined.

Lime can also recommend spots to park.

“That’s something we’re able to do, and it’s very easy for us to set it up,” Usry said of parking recommendations.

Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said he believes Lime would work in Starkville so long as bikes don’t start getting in the way.

Walker also said he sees Lime as a useful addition to the SMART bus system in the future.

“I would certainly hope that, in the near future, if this test is successful, we would have the opportunity to look at where (Lime) could go further down that lane to have a broader use (within the city),” Walker said.

Walker suggested the city look into further bike infrastructure as well. The board will consider entering into an agreement with Lime for bike sharing opportunities in city locations during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver asked to move the consideration to the consent agenda, which no one opposed.

“I really like the fact that they are doing it at no cost to the city,” Mayor Lynn Spruill said. “It’s going to give us data where we will be able to develop where our bike paths are best placed and maintained.”

“I think it gives us a good opportunity to provide some low-cost transportation options to residents who might not otherwise have easy access to the SMART bus system and their destination or home,” Spruill added.

To learn more about Lime and how to use the service, go to www.li.me.com.

IN OTHER NEWS

Retail Strategies COO Scott vonCannon gave a presentation to update the board Friday on retail development in Starkville.

Retail Strategies has been working with Starkville for over two years. Since their arrival, Retail estimates their retail recruitment has helped bring close to $460,000 to Starkville annually through sales tax.

Retail also estimated their recruitment has brought Starkville over 270 jobs to city citizens.

While Retail has worked with Starkville, they have brought names like Slim Chickens, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Chicken Salad Chick and Orange Theory Fitness to Starkville.

The board will hold its regular meeting on West Main Street Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m.

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