Investors are Betting Big on Bike-Sharing Programs

Bike-sharing programs have been available in certain regions in the United States such as the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Washington D.C., and others in recent years.

Investors appear to see good opportunities in bike-sharing programs even if it is spreading slowly across the country. Some of them are betting big on bike-sharing start-ups such as LimeBike, which raised $50 million funding to expand its business nationwide.

The San Mateo-based dockless bike-sharing start-up launched its business with $12 million funding from Andreesen Horowitz and DCM in March.

Today, LimeBike announced that the new investment came from Coatue Management, GGV Capital, Bill Maris’ Section 32, Franklin Templeton Investments, AME Cloud Ventures, and Stanford’s StartX Fund. Andreesen Horowitz and DCM also participated in the new round of investment.

LimeBike aims to expand its business in ten more cities across the United States.  The company is pedaling fast to catch up and eventually surpass Chinese bike-sharing start-ups Ofo and Mobike, which are also expanding their operations in the U.S.

Chinese bike-sharing start-ups expanding in the U.S.

Mobike and Ofo popularized bike-sharing in China. Both companies received significant investments from Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings, which are considered among the biggest players in China.

Mobike touts itself as the first and largest smart bike-sharing platform.  The company launched its business in Shanghai last year. It is now available in 180 cities worldwide.

On the other hand, Ofo launched its service in Peking University in 2014. Today, its business is available in 150 cities in various countries.

The Chinese bike-sharing start-ups are targeting the biggest free marketplace as their next battle ground– United States.

Bike-sharing programs are growing rapidly in the U.S.

Based on the latest study from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), bike-sharing programs are growing rapidly in America. Last year alone, riders took more than 28 million trips, up from 320,000 trips in 2010. The association also noted that bike-sharing systems have been increasing steadily from four systems in 2010 to 55 systems in 2016.

NACTO believes that the growth of bike-sharing programs in the United States will continue. It sees no sign of stopping as many cities plan to launch bike systems. Local governments want to integrate bike-sharing programs as part of their transportation systems because it is low-cost.

LimeBike is only charging $1.00 ($0.50 for students) for a 30-minute trip. The San Mateo-based start-up said it has 250,000 registered users since its launching and already logged more than 500 million trips. Currently, LimeBike has 10,000 bikes in 12 U.S. cities and eight university campuses.

Bill Maris, an ivestor in LimeBike explained that investors like him are bullish on bike-sharing program because Ofo and Mobike have proven that it’s a big and profitable business.

Bike-sharing is becoming increasingly popular not only in China but also in the United States and other countries because it is environmentally friendly. People see it as a way to help fight climate change. Riding a bike is low-cost, healthy, convenient and effective way to travel short distances.