NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk is ringing in National Bike Month with the announcement of a new partnership with the transportation company Lime to bring 500 e-bikes to the city starting in June.
“Everybody doesn’t own a car. Not everybody chooses to own a car, so this is just one extra way for people to get around when they come downtown or if they’re within the city,” said Norfolk Department of Transit Director Amy Inman.
The city hosted e-bike lessons for riders Friday afternoon to celebrate the forthcoming launch.
“They have an e-assist, so it’s just a little kick to make sure that you can go a little bit easier,” explained Government Relations Director for Lime Robert Gardner.
The bikes are the same price as scooters and are reserved through the Lime app. Rentals are $1 plus 32 cents a minute to ride.
The bikes have three speeds and can go up to 20 miles an hour. Riders must be 18 or older and are encouraged to wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road just like any other vehicle.
“Pay attention to the signs, pay attention to the roads that you’re on, make sure that you’re riding with traffic and really just do what you can to keep everybody safe,” said Gardner.
The city recently installed 23 lime green parking spaces called corrals for e-bikes and e-scooters. Inman says Norfolk will add Lime bike racks, too; however, the current corrals aren’t deterring some riders from blocking sidewalks with scooters.
“When you end your ride, again, please just end your ride properly — out of the sidewalk, out of the ramps and places where people with wheelchairs and other disabilities need to have that access,” urged Inman.
Norfolk signed a five-year e-bike contract with Lime, and the city says it gets paid seven cents per trip.
Pedego, a Norfolk e-bike shop, says they have no problem with a little bit of friendly competition; however, they say they are worried about Lime cutting into their rental profits with much lower rates — they sell and rent out electric bikes at a cost of $50 for three hours.
“I think it’ll be great for sales because people will be getting on the bikes and having a really good time and want to buy one,” said Pedego owner Amy Oliver.
Lime didn’t specify the exact date in June the bikes will hit the pavement, but says they’ll start downtown and slowly roll out into other neighbors.