LimeBike and Ofo bicycles outside the county administration building in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Jennewein

“Dockless” rental bicycles have popped up throughout downtown San Diego in the past two weeks, promising low-cost transportation flexibility.

LimeBike, Ofo and Mobike began offering services following a memo issued by the City Attorney’s office on Jan. 24 that concluded an earlier agreement with Deco Bike did not prohibit other providers.

Adding to the profusion is Bird, which rents electric scooters.

The new services use a smartphone app to locate and unlock an available bicycle or scooter. Rates are approximately $1 per ride, with discounts for students. When a ride is finished, the bike or scooter can be parked wherever convenient and legal.

Silicon Valley-based LimeBike launched in June 2017 and is now in 45 markets nationwide. It opened in Imperial Beach last year, added National City and then downtown San Diego, with over 30,000 trips provided in the last two weeks.

Bird dockless electric scooters. Courtesy of the company

Zack Bartlett, general manager of LimeBike in San Diego, said at a press briefing Friday that the bicycles solve what planners call the “last mile” problem of getting people from a bus or train to their final destination.

Any Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego Bike Coalition, noted that the bicycles provide transportation without taking up on-street parking spaces.

City Councilmember David Alvarez helped spark the profusion of services by requesting the City Attorney’s review of the Deco Bike agreement.

“This will provide more options and great access to residents. It’s also a great opportunity for the City of San Diego to meet its Climate Action Plan goal,” he said after an announcement at City Hall last month.

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