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Lime executive reveals the future of alternative transportation: 'We've been so accustomed to just accepting cars and traffic as a way of life'

"The two can coexist."

"The two can coexist."

Photo Credit: Lime

Less than a decade ago, an alternative-transportation startup put 125 neon green bikes on a college campus in North Carolina — and it hasn't looked back since. 

Lime is now a micro-mobility giant, offering affordable, low-carbon travel in 280 cities worldwide. Its e-bike, e-scooter, and e-moped users have logged more than 550 million rides since the company started.

As more of us become accustomed to dockless bikes on sidewalks — perhaps even hopping on an e-scooter to get around town — Lime is keeping the wheels turning with a new campaign aimed to show just that: the broader picture of who's "Liming" these days.

Hint: It's not just for commuters and bachelorette parties.

In an exclusive conversation with The Cool Down, Carolyn Rosebrough, the company's chief brand and communications officer, takes us through why micro-mobility makes so much sense — for daily riders, for company profits, and for the planet.

🛴 Who's scootin'?

"Our mission at Lime is to build a future where transportation is shared, affordable, and carbon-free," Rosebrough told us, but that doesn't mean sustainability is the only reason to jump on an electric bike or scooter. 

"Scooters and bikes were kind of just looked at as fun — maybe even a gadget — for a particular type of person. And so for us … we get really excited when we tell the stories of our riders that are so much more than that."

Lime's new "Why Do You Lime?" campaign goes behind the scenes for a dozen different riders. For example:

  • the rider who uses a Lime bike to get to their book club
  • the late-night user at the end of a long work shift 
  • the avid pickleballer getting to the courts on time

Some riders prioritize the convenience, and for some, it's the satisfaction of zipping through traffic jams and avoiding paying for gas. For others, it's not missing the birth of a child?!

"I remember one story," said Rosebrough, "how this gentleman almost missed the birth of his first child because of traffic. And so he got out and hopped on a Lime, and then he made it to the hospital."

⛑️ How safe are we talking?

According to Rosebrough, "99.999% of our trips end safely — and I think that stat sometimes comes as a surprise to people."

Safety is a big hurdle for the micro-mobility industry at large, with injuries increasing an average of 23% annually since 2017. As one of the largest operators out there, Lime has a role to play in finding solutions — by educating users on proper usage, encouraging helmets, and advocating for better micro-mobility infrastructure.

"Something that we really advocate for as we work with our partners out there in the world … is … for more protected bike lanes.  … That's really important to help riders feel really confident and feel like they are riding in a place where they are safer from traffic and cars."

💚 Sustainability as a business strategy

"I'm really proud to say that the last two years at Lime, we've had really, really great years, profitable years where we've … seen ourselves grow … to be the leader in the industry," said Rosebrough. "And I really believe that we have done that in addition to prioritizing sustainability."

Whereas competitors have shuttered operations, in 2023 Lime grew by 30% and reached profitability while cutting its carbon pollution by nearly 40% since 2019. 

  • In 2023 alone, Lime riders spared over 33 million car trips, saving 1.6 million gallons of gas.
  • That's in part because, per the company, every Lime ride uses 75% less carbon than a comparable car trip. Each vehicle is powered by renewable energy, as are Lime's warehouses and offices.

Additionally, Rosebrough explained that design choices like introducing "swappable" batteries (which can switch between scooters and bikes) help operations become more efficient and more sustainable at the same time.

"There's been a lot of design choices that we've made that are also more green, that ultimately also drive the business. … Our operations are more efficient as a result of that."

Bottom line: "The two can coexist. Making sustainable choices can still lead you to profitability as a business." 

💪 How to get in the habit

Many of us have core memories of learning to ride a bike as a kid — the wobbly training wheels, the mushroom-sized helmet, the skinned knees. And in many ways, Lime is creating another formative experience for riders of all ages who are ditching cars for more agile ways to get around.

For many Lime riders, the pandemic spurred the shift. "Covid was a real turning point for so many reasons," Rosebrough noted. "But in terms of the fact that we offer an open-air way to get around, we also saw a lot of people forming habits of riding bikes and scooters during that time period. And people who maybe wouldn't have considered it previously became more comfortable.

"At the time, people weren't commuting to work as often and so therefore they were actually able to ride bikes and scooters to do other things in their lives. They would ride to brunch; they could ride to dinner; they could ride to run errands. 

"I really do think it's a habit-forming activity. The more you do it, the more you're used to it, and the more you find, 'Wow, it actually is quicker, it's convenient.' … I think that can then drive the other behavior, which is [that] it's also greener. It's actually a better way, not just for me personally, but it's actually better for the planet as well."

🔮 What's your vision for the future of micro-mobility?

"For decades and decades and decades, we've been so accustomed to just accepting cars and traffic as a way of life. … We expect to be sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

"I just don't think that's the only way, nor should that just be what we come to accept.

"Let's have more outdoor dining and places for people to run around and breathe fresh air and ride bikes and play. And so I think the more that we can work together to get more people onto bikes, scooters, walking, public transportation — and then get cities on board with more protected bike lanes, open spaces — that's the future vision that we see at Lime."

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