Bicycle Culture

A Field Guide to Bike Share Programs in Metro Phoenix

Courtesy of Spin
You’ve seen them around – those colorful bikes-for-rent. Typically brightly colored, they're easy to spot around town, whether someone's riding them or they're abandoned on a sidewalk. And it turns out they can be a great way to get around for people looking to cruise around town or commute to work.

However, you probably have some questions, right? Like where to find them, how you pay for it, and how convenient the whole thing actually is. With more options than ever for Valley cyclists, we assembled a quick guide to a few of the bike share programs operating in metro Phoenix.

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Courtesy of Grid Bike Share
Grid Bike Share

How to Spot Them:
Grid bikes are bright green.

Where to Find Them: Grid is the official bike share partner for Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. It operates in Scottsdale, too.

How to Rent: There are three ways to check out a bike, says Jeff Titone, regional manager for Grid Bike Share. Sign up on the Grid website, at a Grid hub kiosk, or with the Social Bicycles app – which locates available hubs and bikes, and allows you to reserve a bike in advance. Spot a bike in the wild? Press any button, enter your account number and PIN, and the U-lock will release.

How to Pay: There are several membership plans. Pay-as-you-go is $0.12 per minute. A $15 monthly plan allows for an hour of daily riding. A $20 monthly plan includes 90 minutes of daily riding. And a six-month student plan is $25 for an hour a day. (Grid also works with Phoenix Choice Neighborhoods to offer reduced memberships for low-income residents.)

How to Park: Secure the bike with the provided U-lock at a Grid hub, a public bike rack, or solid object if racks aren’t around.

Behind the Scenes: Grid techs are in the field daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. to tend to the hubs, clean the bikes and stations, and perform basic maintenance like checking tire pressure, testing brakes, replacing batteries, and more. Each bike is brought to Grid's shop for full service every 30 days.

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Lauren Cusimano

How to Spot Them: LimeBikes are green and yellow.

Where to Find Them: Scottsdale, Mesa, and Tempe.

How to Rent: LimeBikes are GPS and 3G-enabled. So riders can find them by using the LimeBike app, then unlock the cycle and ride off. To unlock a LimeBike, scan the QR code on the bike or enter its plate number into the app. When you’re done, park in an appropriate area and lock the back wheel.

How to Pay: Through the app, LimeBikes cost $1 per ride. If you're a student, you can rent for 50 cents per 30 minutes — provided you have a valid ".edu" email address. For $29.95 a month, nonstudents get 100 rides. Students get the same amount of rides for $14.95 monthly (again, you need a valid “.edu” email).

How to Park: LimeBike is dock-free, meaning riders can park wherever they want. However, Mary Caroline Pruitt with LimeBike marketing and communications has a clarification on that point. “We encourage all riders to park responsibly, between the pedestrian-designated sidewalk and the street curb, or next to a bike rack,” she says. “There is also a map in the LimeBike app that visually shows our riders how to properly park.”

Behind the Scenes: All tires are made of solid-core rubber, so they don’t really require maintenance. LimeBike’s on-the-ground maintenance team cruises around using GPS to make sure bikes are maintained, stood upright, and parked responsibly. LimeBikes have built-in sensors that track when a bike has fallen over. People can also use the app to report when bikes are irresponsibly parked, need maintenance, are in a lake – whatever.

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Courtesy of ofo
ofo | Station-free Bike Sharing

How to Spot Them: ofo bikes are yellow.

Where to Find Them: Scottsdale, Mesa, and Tempe.

How to Rent: Download the ofo app to locate nearby bikes. Once at the bike, tap "unlock" and scan the barcode with your phone to automatically unlock and start riding.

How to Pay: Rides cost $1 per hour. Link your preferred method of payment (credit/debit cards or PayPal) to the ofo app’s wallet feature, and it'll be charged at the end of your ride.

How to Park: Once at your destination, hop off the bike at a proper spot and manually lock it to end the trip. According to Eric Smith from ofo's U.S. public relations team, the dockless model uses smart lock technology, allowing riders to park anywhere they’re legally allowed to park a bike.

Behind the Scenes: The tires are tubeless, meaning the solid tire design doesn’t deflate. Ofo has a local operations team in the Phoenix area that oversees the bike fleets. They travel around in vans each day to deploy more bikes and move them as needed. And if a bike needs maintenance, they will pick it up for repair.

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Courtesy of Spin
Spin Bikeshare

How to Spot Them: Spin bikes are orange.

Where to Find Them: Scottsdale and Tempe

How to Rent: Find a bike with the Spin app, then unlock it by scanning the QR code on the back. When riders reach their destination, they pull down a lever to lock the wheels, securing the bike to that spot.

How to Pay: Rides cost $1 per 30 minutes. Theres also a Spin Unlimited membership option, which offers unlimited 30-minute rides for $29 a month or $99 a year. You can upload credit card information to your account on the app.

How to Park: You don't have to lock these bikes to a rack or a docking station. You can leave them anywhere – just try to be cool about it. "You can leave it anywhere, but we urge our users to park the bikes responsibly so they’re not in the way of other cyclists, pedestrians, or vehicles," says Euwyn Poon, co-founder and President of Spin.

Behind the scenes: Spin uses airless tires, and handles the repairs or calls from riders for maintenance. They redistribute bikes that have been idle for extended periods of time throughout town where they’re most likely to be used, like a campus. And if a bike is parked in an inappropriate spot, they rely on user feedback to move those as quickly as possible.
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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.