This story has been updated with information about ofo's launch in San Diego.
- LimeBike and ofo both launched in San Diego last week, making them the first dockless bike-share services to be introduced to the entirety of the city.
- The launches are significant for San Diego, which initially was strapped by an exclusive bike-share contract with DecoBike. In late January, a legal opinion was issued by City Attorney Mara Elliott to allow other bike-sharing services to operate in San Diego, "as long as the city’s involvement doesn’t go beyond issuing approvals in its regulatory capacity," as reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune.
- LimeBike also plans to roll out its electric assist bike (Lime-E) and Lime-S scooter service in San Diego in the near future, making it the first market to have all three LimeBike mobility options.
During last month's legal proceedings, Elliott made it clear that, "The DecoBike agreement does not insulate DecoBike from competition," as reported by the Union-Tribune. Proponents of dockless bike systems have applauded the city's move forward with dockless bike-share services due to the bikes' affordability and accessibility, and environmentalists have also touted the bikes as a way for the city to make progress toward its Climate Action Plan goals.
While this move may help to propel San Diego toward becoming a more "bike-friendly city," the city must be wary of associated consequences. Littering has been the main issue surrounding dockless systems — both LimeBike and ofo have been at the center of littering controversies in markets like Seattle and Dallas — and unless riders are properly educated about the use of dockless bikes in San Diego, the city could face similar problems.
LimeBike plans to move forward in San Diego in a respectable manner, and says it will "complement" the existing DecoBike service. "Our initial focus in San Diego is on areas that are underserved, in close proximity to major transit stations so we can serve as a first and last mile mobility solution. We will mirror our best practices from San Diego’s neighboring cities to bring affordable, convenient, and accessible mobility solutions to the citizens of San Diego," said Zack Bartlett, LimeBike General Manager of San Diego, in an emailed statement to Smart Cities Dive.
Ofo is also eager about its launch and the opportunity to collaborate with the community and "enhance its transportation ecosystem," according to a press statement. Ofo is offering free rides through the end of February to celebrate.
Assuming the initial rollout is successful, San Diego will be a city to watch as other services including Lime-E and Lime-S are introduced. In fact, San Diego is the first city where Lime-S will officially launch, following pilot programs in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and the offering will potentially disrupt existing shared mobility models and spark a trend among other similar service providers.