|A LimeBike dockless bike parked along the National Mall|
in Washington D.C. Image credit: Flickr
Traditional bike share systems have been characterized by a designated location to park the bike. For Northern Coloradoans, think Fort Collins Bike Share, powered by Zagster. There are 20 stations across the city to pick-up or drop off a bike. With dockless bike share systems, riders can leave the bikes nearly anywhere that is convenient, checking them in or out with a mobile device. Since the summer, these systems have arrived in cities like Dallas, Seattle, and most notably Washington D.C., where four dockless companies have set up shop in recent weeks with another on the way. D.C. officials are allowing the companies to operate on a six month trial basis in order to gather information on necessary regulations. Many are concerned that dockless bikes parked along city streets will cause issues on already crowded sidewalks. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has also warned that “rogue” bike share companies launching services without consulting city officials may be using unsafe equipment and providing services in inadequate locations.
Companies operating in D.C. will be supplying the city with data on who is using the bikes, when, and why to better understand underserved and overserved areas. Because they require no infrastructure, the dockless bikes have the potential to provide more complete coverage across cities. However, the location of the nearest bike will be unpredictable, leaving many questions as to the reliability of such a system. Many cities across the U.S. will be keeping an eye on Washington D.C. in order to plan for dockless bike share systems.
For more on the topic, visit Governing.