Cruising the Last Mile

Don't forget your helmet!

Thanks to companies like Uber and Lyft, most people are familiar with the concept of ride-sharing apps. The convenience of having a car at your disposal, without having to own one or worry about where to park it, can be enticing. But, what if you prefer to use mass transit? Do you really need a car for the relatively short distance between the train station or bus stop and your ultimate destination?

As Lora Kolodny of TechCrunch explains, that's the niche that companies like LimeBike are trying to fill. There are a number of bike-sharing companies, but one of the things that makes LimeBike different is the fact that it is kiosk-free. Rather than having to pick up and drop off a bike at a designated spot, LimeBike users can simply use the company's mobile app to find the nearest available bike. The bikes are equipped with GPS and 3G connectivity, so they can be easily located. Once found, users unlock the bike using a QR code. The app tracks your route and your drop-off location. Prices start at $1.00 for 30 minutes, which is significantly cheaper than services like Uber and Lyft.

Supporting Web Links
Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. Poll the class to see how many students have made use of ride-sharing programs like Uber or Lyft. What are the benefits? What are the disadvantages? How do most students get to campus? Would a bike-sharing program be beneficial? Why or why not?
  2. Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to research bike-sharing programs that are available in your region.  If there are none currently available, ask students to research one or two that might be a good fit. Once the research has been completed, ask each group to conduct a survey of other students on campus, friends, family, and commuters at local transit locations to determine if survey respondents have used or would want to use ride-sharing or bike-sharing services. Each group should develop an appropriate questionnaire to gauge the level of interest in these services, customer satisfaction for services that have been used, suggestions for improvement, demographic data, etc. Each group should compile their results and present their research to the class. 
  3. As an individual project, ask students to research the pros and cons of kiosk vs. kiosk-free bike-sharing services. Students should determine which type of service would be best for their area and defend their opinion in a brief report.

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