I finally rode one of Seattle’s new bike shares

Are all these citrus-flavored bikes good for the city?

August 28, 2017

It seems like lately it has been hard to tell what is growing more in Seattle – Amazon buildings or the growing variety of citrus-colored bikes that is starting to make Seattle street corners look like the corner produce stand at Pike Place Market.

Between these new bikes and the existing car shares, Uber, and Lyft, you won't need to own a vehicle to get around Seattle anymore, which is probably good based on the fact there's hardly any parking going in with all the new condos.

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So far, three new bike share companies have expanded to Seattle, so what makes them so awesome?

After the Sounders vs. Timbers match on Sunday night, I finally downloaded one of the apps and took a ride to see why.  

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I rode a LimeBike (the green ones) and this was my experience:

Finding a Bike
My wife and I took the light rail from Pioneer Square to UW and there were SO MANY bikes near the station. It’s probably always going to be easy to find a bike near public transit, but especially around hubs like that.

Using the app, you can see all the available bikes around you and there are usually plenty.

Downloading the App & Creating an Account
This was so easy. It took me no time to download the app and it was as simple as logging in with Facebook to create an account. After that, you scan and go. If you forget how to do any of that, the directions to get it going are printed right on the bike.

Unlocking the Bike
When you find a bike, you open up the QR code scanner code (hey look, people actually use QR codes) built into the app and when it’s recognized, it unlocks the wheel for you and you are good to go! Pop up the kickstand, swing your leg over and start pedaling.

Riding the Bike
For someone who has spent hours (days, really) on a more conventional road bike, riding one of these felt like a luxury cruise. The bike is super comfortable, has a basket on the front, a light for the night, and a step-through frame making it easy for almost anyone to get on.

If you’re used to a more stable bike, these can seem a bit “squirrely,” but overall it was a comfortable ride, but you probably won’t be taking it on a loaded tour.

Locking the bike back up is as easy as it was to unlock. Just slide the wheel lock back through the spokes, the green light flashes, and you can walk away! The app will automatically stop tracking your distance as soon as the lock engages and it summarizes your trip, even calculating how many calories you burned. The ride only costs $1 per half hour, which is a steal considering how much you could spend on a cab (even if you go Uber Pool).

The best part about this trip and what makes it significantly better (and likely more successful) than the pronto bikes is that you can leave it wherever you want. However, don’t be a jerk. Leave bikes unto others as you would like bikes left to you (aka don’t ride this up Aurora and leave it on the median like I saw the other day).

And definitely don't do this.

Other thoughts
Hills are hard with the squirrely nature of these bikes. I would try to avoid heading up Seattle’s most steep hills, while the longer, gentler inclines seem to be alright.

Be safe. Wear a helmet (they aren’t provided) and mind the rules of the road. Read up on Seattle’s bike laws and follow them!

Biking is awesome and one less car on the streets of Seattle is well worth showing up to work with helmet-tussled hair, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you hit the streets.

Have you ridden any of the new bike shares? Let me know what you think!

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