The popular bike-sharing program Lime has pulled its bikes from the streets of Ithaca and elsewhere in Tompkins County as part of a larger effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The company met with City of Ithaca officials and the sustainable transportation organization BikeWalk Tompkins on Monday to inform them of its decision. Lime announced earlier this week that it would be pausing its operations in 24 different countries, including the United States, to "help people stay put and stay safe."
Users of the Lime bike app will find no bikes on the map (though there are still a few on the streets floating around). Previously, there were between 200-300 Lime bikes on the streets throughout Tompkins County, spurred by an operating agreement with the City of Ithaca that was signed in 2018.
"They've made the decision to close down all of their operations throughout the United States and frankly a lot of other countries, and so we're part of that," said Hector Chang of BikeWalk Tompkins. "They were mainly worried about people getting infected by touching their bikes. If someone who had the virus rode their bikes, the virus could be somewhere on the bike and then someone else borrows the bike. They just got worried."
The bikes have been placed in a warehouse in Lansing, Chang said. The short-term future for Lime's return is murky, Chang said, as the only update the company has given local authorities is that they will meet with them to update in 2-3 weeks about whether or not it's safe to redistribute the bikes.