Frequently Asked QUestions

About the Company  |  How to Use  |  Rules & Safety  |  Other Questions

About The Company

Q: Who runs the bikeshare?

A: The bikeshare is operated by Lime, an American bikesharing company based out of San Francisco and present in over 50 markets. Lime has hired several locally-based staff to maintain operations in and around Ithaca. Bike Walk Tompkins facilitated the process of selecting the bikeshare company that is the best fit for our community, with the cooperation of community partners.

Q: What is a dock-free bike?

Older-generation bikeshare systems, such as Citibike in New York City, rely on special bike racks called "docks" to ensure that bikes can only be borrowed by registered users. The docks are expensive and users are limited to go to places where docks exist. Dock-free bikeshares use a smartphone app for registration, and can be parked anywhere public bicycle parking is allowed because the locking mechanism is on the bike itself. When not in use, the rear wheel is locked. The bikes also have GPS and cellular connections integrated so that both the bikeshare operator and users can find bikes near them.

Q: How do I contact the bikeshare operator?

For any questions or concerns about Lime, call their 24/7 support line at 1-888-LIME-345 (1-888-546-3345). Lime's website (www.limebike.com) and their help page are also great resources to get to know the bikeshare system.

How To Use

Q: How will the bikeshare system work?

The bikes are first-come, first-served and can be taken on one-way trips. The bikes can be borrowed easily by downloading the Lime app to your smartphone and scanning the QR code on the back of the bicycle you want. Bikes can be borrowed at $1 per ride (up to 30 minutes), with discounts available for people with .EDU email addresses and people in low-income households. Once you arrive at your destination, park at an appropriate place and manually lock the bike to end your trip.

Q: What happens if I use a bicycle for more than 30 minutes?

You will be charged an additional $1 for every 30 minutes or portion thereof. The bikes can only be locked manually so the lock will never lock automatically on you. If you are using a free ride or you have a low account balance, you may end up with a negative balance which you can pay off upon the next time you reload your account with money.

Q: Where should I park the bikes?

Since there are no fixed docks to park the bikes, in the City of Ithaca the bikes should be parked:

  1. Next to existing public bike racks

  2. Next to other neatly parked bikes

  3. On the "furniture zone" of wide sidewalks (e.g. the space between street trees by the curb)

On university campuses or outside the City, bikes should only be parked at or next to existing public bike racks.

Don't block pathways, bus stops, ramps for wheelchairs, or leave them on the ground. The bikeshare relies on good parking etiquette. Please park responsibly.

Q: Is the bikeshare accessible to people who do not have smartphones or bank cards? 

Yes. Bike Walk Tompkins is happy to partner with LimeBike in offering their Lime Access program, a discounted plan that gives you $5 for up to 100 rides on LimeBike. Read more on how to register for Lime Access.

Q: I see myself using this a lot. Is there a monthly membership?

Yes. In the Lime app you can sign up for LimePrime (or "Pedal Bike Subscription" depending on the app version), an automatically-renewable monthly membership that provides up to 100 rides of 30 minutes or less at a reduced cost. If you see yourself riding even more often, or you'd like the benefit of having a personal bicycle, consider visiting one of Ithaca's local bike shops.

Q: Is it possible to reserve a LimeBike?

Not currently. LimeBikes are borrowed on a first-come, first-served basis because you should have the expectation to be able to use any bicycle that you see that is parked, even on a tree lawn. However, with over 200 bicycles in Ithaca, a LimeBike will never be too far away from you. And if they are far, consider asking LimeBike to bring more bicycles to your neck of the woods.

Q: Can I borrow multiple LimeBikes at once?

Not currently. The system is limited to check out one active bicycle per user. We recommend letting your friends know they should download the app on their phone ahead of time, or do a group bike rental at any rental bike shop in town.

Q: Are there electric LimeBikes (Lime-E)?

Currently, the company is testing out a small fleet of pedal-assist e-bikes called Lime-E in Ithaca. The electric motor for these bikes automatically kicks in gradually as you pedal, and gives you a boost when going up hills. The bike’s top speed is 14.8 mph, and the average speed is 12 mph. Lime-E’s have a different pricing than regular LimeBikes: $1 to unlock + 15 cents per minute.

Q: Is it possible to ride a LimeBike up Ithaca’s hills?

Yes, it is possible. LimeBikes have 8 gears and very effective drum brakes. Lime-E bikes are also great at going up hills. That being said, bikes are available throughout Ithaca, so you can take TCAT buses up or down the hill and finish the trip with a LimeBike.

Q: Will the bikeshare be available in the winter?

Yes. A smaller fleet of LimeBikes will be available during the winter to ensure that this transportation service is available year round.

Rules & Safety

Q: What's the minimum age to ride a LimeBike?

The minimum age in Ithaca is 14 with parental approval, and 18 without parental approval. For younger folks, children's bicycles can be borrowed at Ithaca Bike Rental by the Ithaca Youth Bureau, with helmets and locks included!

Q: Does the bikeshare operator have to abide by any rules?

LimeBike and its users have to follow the bicycling rules and laws of the City of Ithaca and university partners. The City will also have control over the size of the bikeshare fleet and where bicycles can go. The bikeshare company has to answer to the City for any concerns.

Q: Will helmets be provided with the bikeshare bikes?

The bikeshare operator does not provide helmets with their bikes. Helmets are not required by law in Ithaca and Tompkins County except for people 13 and under. However, we encourage people to use their own helmet. If you do not have one, you can pick one up at a reasonable price at many of our local bike shops, or a free one at our office inside the Dewitt Mall. Bike Walk Tompkins and our partners are also doing helmet giveaways at Streets Alive! Ithaca and future events.

Q: Can the bikes be ridden at night?

Yes. All LimeBikes have front and rear lights that turn on once you start pedaling, and will stay on for a while when you stop. The wheels also have a reflective strip that provides visibility from the sides. While not required, we encourage you to increase your safety and visibility by wearing a helmet and/or wearing light-colored clothing.

Q: Will users know the rules of the road?

LimeBike will have rules of the road and basic biking information in their smartphone app, and first-time users will receive an in-app orientation of the rules. Bike Walk Tompkins, through Streets Alive! Ithaca and the Ithaca Bike Champions program, will also be holding many community events where people can learn the rules of the road no matter how they move around.

Q: What if the bikes are left in places where they should not be?

While the rear wheel of the LimeBikes are locked, the front wheel can still move. If you see a bike that is poorly parked, the fastest way to fix it is to simply pick it up by the seat and roll it to a more appropriate spot. LimeBike will also have crews checking on all the bikes in the city. For more challenging or urgent situations, anyone can call 1-888-LIME-345 or use the LimeBike app to report misplaced bicycles. Local staff will take care of it as soon as they are able to.

Other Questions

Q: What is Bike Walk Tompkins' role in the bikeshare system?

Bike Walk Tompkins does not run the bikeshare system that LimeBike provides, but we have facilitated bringing it to Ithaca. Based on experiences in other cities, we know that having a community-wide bikeshare in our area will help bicycling become a more reliable form of transportation here. We are working closely with the City of Ithaca, university partners, and LimeBike to set up a truly community-wide bikeshare system for all by the end of 2018. See the Bikeshare Request for Information (RFI) that we released in the fall of 2017 to learn more about the process that got us here.

Q: Should I even consider renting a bike from a local shop?

While this is a personal preference, LimeBike is best used for quick in-town trips where bicycling is not the only way you will use to get around. Consider renting a bicycle from a local bike shop that does rentals if you prefer to have a well-fitting bicycle for the entire duration of your stay, or if you need a bicycle for purposes other than city riding.

Q: How can a person driving a vehicle help make the bikeshare (and bicycling) safe and successful?

Thank you for asking. Stay alert and be patient as you share the road with all users, including people who bike. Slow down first, and if you must pass someone biking, pass with at least 3 feet or more of space.