LimeBike On Providing More Affordable and Available Bikes: A Conversation with Toby Sun, Co-Founder and CEO of LimeBike

By Tracy Wang

With the concept of  dockless bike sharing at the forefront of its company, LimeBike is one of the new addition of green transportation in Seattle, Washington. Since its launch in late July, it has quickly become a crucial part of Seattle’s biking culture with its current one thousand bikes. In corporation and constant conversations with Seattle’s government and stakeholders, LimeBike has the goal of becoming the biggest dockless bike-sharing service in the United States.

Toby Sun, Co-founder and CEO of LimeBike, has his mind set on ‘how to get people around more easily’. As a person who cares deeply about the topics of sustainability and green environment, Sun emphasized his commitment in riding bikes to create a better environment and said that ‘any chance we can bike, we will ride a bike’. Then, Sun explained that sustainability has everything to do with the origin of the word ‘lime’ in the name of LimeBike. He hopes that by seeing the color green, reading the word ‘lime’ and riding a bike whose name is LimeBike, the riders can be reminded of sustainability as well as their contribution in creating a greener environment by riding a bike.  

To follow the trend in Europe as well as Asia, Sun and his co-founder decided that ‘a bike-share with more availability, with more affordable price can become a major contributor to help the global warming and pedestrian issue’. As a result, they dedicated themselves in building a bike-sharing company that can not only relieve people from walking and crowding in public transportation, but also help contribute in solving the problems of global warming. Some main service users he pointed out are commuters, students and tourists, but he also mentioned that ‘whenever people need to walk, if the walking distance is more than 10 minutes, it’s perfect to use it (LimeBike)’. With its bike-sharing service, students no longer need to buy their own bikes, and commuters can use LimeBike to avoid the walking distance between stations of public transportation (ex: lightrail stations) and their houses.

What makes LimeBike special among different bike-sharing companies are its bike quality, brake quality, durability, and front as well as back lights. Dedicated in creating a smooth experience for their riders, they make sure all their bikes are of better qualities than other bikes with its 8 speed gears, and brakes of much higher braking power which lasts about two to three years. Because they put safety as their top priority, they give their bikes rigorous pressure pump which makes sure people of all weights can use their bikes safely, and use front and back lights that are much brighter. Not only trying to provide high quality bikes, LimeBike also puts attention on small details such as the front basket. Since they are aware that many of its users will have handbags and grocery bags, they put in baskets that are two to three times bigger than those of the other bike company’s bikes.

When asked their reasonings in launching LimeBike in Seattle, Sun pointed out Seattle is one of the best markets for a bike-sharing company, because it has a wonderful bike culture and good infrastructure. As a city that is rich in bike culture and has more appropriate weather for biking, Seattle allows LimeBike to operate all year long, and provides suitable infrastructure for the 1000 bikes LimeBike brings in. In order to overcome the geographical issues of bikes congregating in downhill areas, LimeBike also has a 20-people-operation that is responsible for moving bikes to locations with more demand. To make sure the riders are riding the bikes in a safe manner, it provides biking instructions on the app as well as on bikes, and it distributes one thousand custom-designed helmets to Seattle riders. Also, LimeBike provides on-the-ground repair that enables the bikes to be fixed in 24 to 48 hours. With Seattle’s public responding positively to LimeBike by actively using and sharing it on social media platforms, Sun hopes LimeBike will be the biggest bike-sharing service in the country by the end of the year.