Spring has sprung! Or, at least, false spring, in which the Pacific Northwest gets just enough sunshine to fool us into thinking that the rainy season has finally ended before, a day or two later, the clouds return and it's back to depression and plastic outerwear until July. I celebrated false spring this weekend with my inaugural ride on one of the electric Lime bikes dotting the city. Unlike regular Lime bikes (or Spin or Ofo or the Huffy currently moldering in my basement), e-bikes are all fun and no misery.
In an annoyingly hilly city like Seattle, e-bikes make biking great again. Although some e-bikes are more like scooters, with Lime's e-bikes, a small amount of peddling is required. This gives one the illusion of exercise without any of the sweat or heart palpitations that make actual exercise so unpleasant. As Stranger publisher and e-bike evangelist Tim Keck told me while wheeling his bike into the elevator this morning, e-bikes "flatten the city," and I spent an hour yesterday cruising up hills that are normally so daunting I say "fuck it" and take the bus. I haven't enjoyed biking that much since ditching the training wheels. It was wonderful.
However! Now that I've been into e-bikes for almost 24 hours, I've begun to notice some bad behavior on the part of my fellow riders. Namely: Hiding them on private property. While searching for an e-bike both last night and this morning, I saw not one but FOUR Lime bikes parked either in someone's driveway or inside their fence. And I get the impulse: You grabbed an e-bike, shot over to a friend's new condo in the CD for a Sunday afternoon BBQ, and wanted to make sure you could get back to Capitol Hill without breaking a sweat. Makes sense! But Lime bikes are not your property, and you have no right to hide them away as if they were. If you want to continue to pay for your time while you bogart that bike, fine. Go for it. But once you flip that brake, the bike enters the public domain and hiding them on your property doesn't make you clever, it makes you an asshole. Besides, this doesn't just inconvenience your neighbors; it's bad for business. If Lime, a for-profit company, can't make money off their product because you've decided to stow their bike in your garage until you want it next, do you think they're going to invest in more of these wonder machines? NO! They're going to go out of business, and then we'll have to buy our own e-bikes, or, even worse, walk.
In light of this, I've decided to become an e-bike liberator. When I see bikes parked on private property, I'm going to rent them and I'm going to move them. And I encourage all of my fellow social reformers out there to do the same. Those of us who are self-appointed politeness police can't force you not to be an asshole, but we can make it just a little harder for you to get away with it. So remember this post the next time you're tempted to hide a Lime bike away, because if you can't respect the rules of the e-road, I can't respect your property line.
You've been warned.