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Mobike is one dockless bikeshare company being test in the District of Columbia.

Mobike is one dockless bikeshare company being test in the District of Columbia.

Tim Lemke

Could D.C. Follow Sacramento’s Lead on Bike Share?

With the District of Columbia in the middle of testing dockless bikeshare, many residents are curious how these services will be regulated, if at all.

The City of Sacramento, Calif. may offer a clue, as it recently passed an ordinance designed to prevent bikes from being left in the middle of sidewalks and paths.

Dockless bikeshare services allow riders to find and unlock bikes using their smartphones, then simply drop them off in any public area when done. The District is testing five companies under a pilot program that ends in April. There are some suggested rules of etiquette for how to use the services, but no current regulations.

Some D.C. residents have complained that the dockless bike systems have led to bicycles strewn on lawns and blocking sidewalks; some have even suggested they can contribute to theft and other criminal activity.

In Sacramento, it’s now illegal to leave a bike in the middle of a sidewalk or bike path. In addition, bike share companies would have two hours to retrieve stray bicycles or they could be fined.

From the text of the ordinance:

Without regulation, bicycle-share businesses pose a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare. Some bicycle-share bicycles may be self-locked anywhere within the city, making it difficult for the city to ensure that these bicycles are placed safely, upright, and out of the way of pedestrian walkways, bicycle paths, and roadways. Bicycle-share bicycles will also increase demand for the City’s limited bicycle parking. In addition, derelict self-locking bicycles can become a major cause of blight in both residential and nonresidential neighborhoods.

For now, the District is taking a wait-and-see approach to dockless bikeshare, and is accepting feeback via email at publicspace.policy@dc.gov.

How do you think dockless bikeshare should be regulated?

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