LimeBike's pilot program at Tahoe helping regional planners

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Since the middle of July, lime green bicycles have been spotted all over South Lake Tahoe and thousands of people have hopped on for a ride.

Those bikes are LimeBikes. LimeBike is a dockless bike sharing program that allows people to use a mobile app to locate and unlock the bikes. It costs a dollar for every 30 minutes of usage and there are 210 of those bikes in the South Lake Tahoe region.

"A lot of feedback that we've gotten is there just aren't enough bikes," says Nick Fong, New Market Launcher for LimeBike. "We launched July 14 this year and ridership has been pretty good. We've gotten 10,000 rides and 5,000 users and cumulatively 8,000 miles."

Those are not the only data LimeBike has collected. The Bay Area-based company has gathered a lot of data on its users and usage. That information is being shared with regional planners in the South Lake Tahoe region, including those with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

"We have been periodically requesting the data so we can make heat maps and use it for other planning purposes," says Morgan Beryl, Senior Transportation Planner for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Beryl says the heat maps show where usage of the LimeBikes is highest. That area tends to be around the state line near the casinos.

"It could help us in a lot of different ways," says Beryl about the data LimeBike is providing. "Like in one way it could help us is if we know a lot of people are biking in those areas and visiting a lot of commercial districts, it helps us make that argument to businesses and local jurisdictions, 'hey there's a lot of people biking in this area and they want to visit your places. Maybe we need more bike racks.' So that's one example of how we might use it. It also can help us understand where people are traveling and may need transit."

Fong says the transportation data LimeBike is collecting are also available to the public. He says LimeBike's pilot program in the South Lake Tahoe area was only supposed to last a few months this year and now that the weather will start shifting, the company plans to start putting the bikes away sometime in the next few weeks. But the plan is to come back next year.

The LimeBike program can be found in some other cities such as Seattle, Washington and Greensboro, North Carolina.