- Associated Press - Saturday, August 4, 2018

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Mobile will launch its downtown bicycle-sharing service on Aug. 15.

The launch date means that rental bikes should be readily available during the Aug. 25 Dauphin Street Beer Festival, which serves as an informal kickoff for the downtown entertainment district’s busy fall season, and the Ten Sixty Five music festival on Oct. 5-6, Al.com reported .

Back in March, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced a partnership with the company LimeBike, now known as Lime. Stimpson and company representatives said the service would launch in the summer, after local staff and other resources such as warehouse space were worked out.

The plan calls for the first 500 bikes to be distributed downtown and on the University of South Alabama campus.

In a statement, Stimpson called for Mobilians to help make the bike share program a success. He asked motorists to give cyclists plenty of room, and asked cyclists not to park their bikes in places that block vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

Lime is one of several in the rapidly expanding field of shared transportation providers. It takes a dockless approach, meaning its bikes can be left anywhere. Riders use a smartphone app to find and unlock a bike and pay an hourly rental charge. The bikes themselves have built-in locks and GPS locators. One job of local staff is to move bikes around so they don’t just pile up at destination spots.

Company officials said the name change reflects what it describes as its “exciting growth into multimodal transportation.” Lime rents electric scooters as well as bikes.

In early July, Lime announced $335 million in funding in a deal heavily supported by Uber and Google Ventures. According to a CNet report, plans call for Uber to include Lime scooter rentals in its app.

“Our investment and partnership in Lime is another step towards our vision of becoming a one stop shop for all your transportation needs,” Rachel Holt, Uber’s head of new modalities, said in a statement quoted by CNet. “Lime already has an expansive footprint, and we’re excited to incorporate their scooters into the Uber app so consumers have another fast, affordable option to get around their city, especially to and from public transit.”

Lime announced in July that its machines had been used for more than six million rides since the company was founded in Greensboro, North Carolina, in June 2017.

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