The Mobile City council voted unanimously Tuesday, April 30 to end its exclusive franchise agreement with LimeBike and enter into a non-exclusive contract with Gotcha Mobility to bring dockless, application-based bike rental services back to the city.
“We are extremely pleased to partner with the City of Mobile, AL to bring a bike share program to the community this summer,” Sean Flood, CEO and founder of Gotcha said in a statement. “This bike share program will be the first full electric pedal assist fleet in the state of Alabama.”
Michelle Burdick, Gotcha partner experience manager, said the company would start by placing 200 bikes in areas of the city where it appears they would be used the most. To determine where those areas are, Burdick said the company would be sending a team down to do research. The bikes will likely be placed near business hubs and places of interest, Burdick said.
Gotcha’s teal bikes should begin appearing about three months after the contract is signed, she said.
While a final rental price hasn’t been set for the bikes, Burdick said the rate in other areas has been $2 to unlock a bike and 15 cents per minute after that. Gotcha also offers a membership or subscription-style plan.
As for theft, Burdick said it’s “not a big issue” because the bikes have two locks. In addition, the bikes are built specifically for Gotcha and the parts are proprietary. This means parts can’t easily be removed, she said. Gotcha currently operates at Auburn University and is planning to launch in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, soon, Burdick said.
LimeBike announced it would leave the city in February, less than a year into its agreement. It had previously placed its bikes downtown and on the University of South Alabama campus. City officials said LimeBike left the city after it determined that state law wouldn’t allow it to introduce electric scooters to its fleet.
In other business, the council also delayed for two weeks a vote on the appeal by Kenneth O’Hanlon of an Architectural Review Board decision to deny his application to build a 7-foot fence around his property in the Old Dauphin Way Historic District. At issue for the Board is a historic district rule regulating the maximum height of fences at 6 feet.
O’Hanlon showed councilors photos of a “next door neighbor’s” 8-foot fence, which raised concerns over the fair application of the rule. Junior Architectural Historian Paige Largue said the city would research to see if the neighbor’s fence was built before 2016 and therefore grandfathered in, or if enforcement action would need to be taken.
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