Early data suggests that dockless bikeshare has not been widely used by residents outside the city’s core, despite a desire by the city to see bike access improved in low-income neighborhoods.
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Information from the city’s dockless bikeshare pilot program shows that most trips take place in Wards 2, 6, and 1, with minimal usage in Wards 7 and 8. Usage patterns are not drastically different than that of Capital Bikeshare, according to Stefanie Brodie, a research program specialist with the District Department of Transportation.
“We’re requiring bikes to operate in all parts of the city, and they are, but there are concentrations we should keep in mind,” Brodie said. “In Wards 7 and 8, which are predominantly low-income areas, you don’t see the same level of activity. And this might lead us to pause on the assertion that dockless bikeshare is reaching locations that Capital Bikeshare is not.”
Brodie shared the data through a webinar Thursday hosted by the Eno Center for Transportation.
The city is currently allowing five companies to operate dockless bike systems under a pilot program that was recently extended through August 30. The companies include MoBike, JUMP, LimeBike, oFo, and Spin. There are also two dockless scooter operators, WayBots and Bird.
Dockless bikeshare systems allow users to find and unlock bikes using an app, then drop them off in any non-intrusive public area.
Under the pilot program, bike operators were required to distribute bikes throughout all parts of the city. But, there is no way to control where bikes are left once they are used. Thus, bikes are now largely concentrated in busier areas near the city core.
The city said there were 120,640 dockless bikeshare trips between October 2017 and January of 2018. About half of those originated in Ward 2, while a quarter were in Ward 6.
About 0.6 percent of dockless bike trips start in Ward 8, compared to 0.3 percent for Capital Bikeshare. Meanwhile, 0.9 percent of dockless bike trips start in Ward 7, compared to 0.5 percent of Capital Bikeshare.
“These are all under 1 percent, so the impact is a little less than we would have hoped,” Brodie said.