Three weeks ago, job postings started appearing on the employment search and review website Glass Door in connection with what might soon be Honolulu’s second bike-share rental system.

The city’s first bike share, Biki, was launched in June by the nonprofit Bikeshare Hawaii and appears to be a success well into its first year of operation.  The potential rival, LimeBike, would operate differently.

Unlike conventional bike-share systems that have sprouted in cities around the world in recent years, LimeBike is dockless, meaning it doesn’t rely on stations to lock and secure bikes when they’re not being used.

Recent job postings for Honolulu from the dockless bike-share company LimeBike

In congested urban Honolulu, Biki’s 100 stations spread across 5 square miles from Chinatown to Diamond Head have irked some people because of the 60 public parking spaces they claimed.

The San Mateo, California-based LimeBike has already set up dockless systems in several dozen U.S. cities and a few in Europe, according to its website. The for-profit company also recently secured an additional $70 million in second-round funding, bringing its total funding to $132 million, according to a recent write-up on the website TechCrunch.

So far, however, LimeBike is keeping mum about its plans for Honolulu.

LimeBike already operates in several dozen U.S. cities.

Paul Sableman/Flickr.com

“We’re excited about the potential of expanding to Hawaii but have no updates to share at the moment,” LimeBike spokeswoman Emma Green said in an email.  Green said she would provide more details when she could.

City spokesman Adam LeFebvre said that LimeBike — as well as other dockless bike-share companies — have reached out to the Department of Transportation Services about operating in Honolulu. LeFebvre didn’t specify what other companies expressed interest.

According to LimeBike’s website, users can locate and unlock nearby bikes using an app on their smartphones. Once a ride is done, users can park the system’s bike at a nearby bike rack or curbside but away from buildings. The company has also rolled out electric bikes and motorized scooters in some cities.

Typically, it costs $1 to unlock the LimeBike bikes, plus additional charges depending on how long the bike is used, according to its website.

Lori McCarney, CEO of Bikeshare Hawaii, which manages Biki, said Friday that she’s heard rumors about LimeBike coming to Honolulu but doesn’t yet know how that would impact Biki.

BIKI bike rack and bikes get blessed located on Hotel street fronting the State Art Museum.

BIKI bike racks on Hotel Street fronting the Hawaii State Art Museum.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“The dockless (system) is so new, I don’t think anyone really knows where it’s going to go short-term or long-term,” McCarney said Friday.  

“We’re sort of in uncharted waters … there’s no clear verdict” on which system works better, she said. “Every city is different. You don’t know until it happens.”

In June, when Biki launched, McCarney said the system would succeed if it could achieve 2,000 rides per day, representing two daily rides for every bike. On Friday, McCarney said Biki is now seeing 2,600 daily trips.

Whatever LimeBike’s future plans are, the Biki staff plans to focus on its own operation, she said.

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