If you think Durham streets looked a little emptier in February, you’re right. Two bike share companies that previously operated in the city chose not to renew their permits, which expired on January 28. The companies, Lime and Spin, launched their Durham bike share pilots in late 2017.

Durham bicycle and pedestrian coordinator Dale McKeel told the INDY that the city offered both companies the opportunity to renew their permits. Neither elected to do so.

“There may be a stray bike out there,” McKeel says. “But my understanding is that both of those operators are pulling their bicycle fleets out of the city.”

Spin, based in San Francisco, previously managed bike-share programs in several cities across the country. However, the company recently decided to discontinue its bicycle operations entirely, shifting its business model to scooters. A spokesperson told the INDY that Spin would “exclusively” operate scooters going forward but didn’t respond to a follow-up email asking why.

Lime said it decided to forgo bikes after “listening to feedback about what vehicle types will best meet community needs.”

Though neither company is continuing its bike program locally, both Lime and Spin are seeking permits to bring scooters to Durham. After an October ordinance approved the use of motorized scooters in the city, the Durham Transportation Department accepted applications throughout the month of December. Five scooter share companies—Spin, Gotcha, Lyft, Lime, and Byrd—applied, vying for what McKeel says will be a maximum of about six hundred scooters coming to Durham in the near future. The city has not yet issued any scooter permits.

None of those five companies has applied to place bicycles in the city. Initially, the city planned to issue permits for up to six hundred scooters and twelve hundred bikes—some electric and some not. However, having received no applications for bicycle permits, the city is reconsidering its expectations. McKeel says city staffers will follow up with the recent applicants and encourage them to provide bicycles in addition to any scooter permits they are granted.

“We feel it would be desirable to give our residents a choice when it comes to these shared active devices,” McKeel says. After all, over the past two years, the bike-share programs operated by Spin and Lime have been incredibly popular in Durham. In eight months, city residents logged sixty thousand rides with the bike-share programs and reported high levels of satisfaction with their flexibility, affordability, and convenience.

In order to regulate the dockless bike and scooter programs, the city will charge a permit fee for each device deployed. Each scooter will cost the operating companies $100. The city will charge significantly less for bicycles, issuing permits for $25 per bike.

McKeel says the city is still ironing out all the details before launching any new programs. His main concerns right now are ensuring that the devices will be accessible to low-income community members and mapping out safe places for parking.

“At this point, I’m reluctant to give a date,” McKeel says. “There are still several things we’re working through under the ordinance.”

This story has been updated to include Lime’s response. 

2 replies on “You’re Not Crazy. Spin and Lime Bikes Really Have Disappeared from Durham.”

  1. Spotted the bikes from the train wow passing through Greensboro. Stripped down and getting scrapped. What a waste.

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