Now that the District of Columbia is wrapping up its pilot program for dockless bikes and scooters, we may finally get some clarity on how they will be regulated in the future, if at all.
The District is not the only city that’s been grappling with the best way to address dockless bikes. Indeed, many cities are finding them to be a ubiquitous part of their landscape, with mixed reviews from commuters and residents.
We thought it would be worth examining what’s happening in other cities that have allowed dockless bike and scooter companies to operate.
Dockless motorized scooters started to appear in Charm City in June, when Bird dropped about 60 of them into the city without much warning. The scooters were met with some skepticism at first, but then the city got on board, scrapping its own bikeshare program in favor of a partnership with Bird on scooters and Lime on both scooters and bikes. This could lead to 1,000 dockless bikes and scooters in the city, at no cost to taxpayers.
Philly already operates a traditional docked bikeshare system in partnership with Indego, but could roll out dockless bikeshare by the end of the year. Media reports suggest that companies would have to be licensed and regulated by the city, and it’s still unclear how many dockless companies would be allowed to operate.
Last year, Seattle ended its traditional bike system and has had a pilot programs involving dockless bikes owned by Lime, oFo and Spin. The pilot program is over, but the companies are still operating under the same contracts until something more permanent is established. The view of dockless bikeshare is fairly positive, with 74% of survey respondents offering a favorable opinion. The Seattle Department of Transportation is expected to issue recommendations later this year, and that will guide any legislation on how the dockless bikes should be regulated.
The Big Apple started a pilot program in July, first in the Rockaways, and the Staten Island and the Bronx. Coney Island is apparently also part of the plan. Pace, Lime, and Jump are the three companies involved in the pilot. Currently, electric scooters are not permitted in the city, so this pilot program only involves bicycles.
Dockless bikes would supplement CitiBike, the traditional bikeshare program supported by the city.
Dockless bikes and scooters began rolling out in Atlanta over the summer, and the city is expected to discuss regulations. One operator, oFo, pulled out of Atlanta and several other cities.
Putting aside the fact that some dockless bikes are ending up in the water, the service has proven to be very popular in communities just outside of Beantown, There are 15 communities in suburban Boston that have partnered with Limebike and Spin. The city of Boston doesn’t allow dockless bikes due to an exclusive deal with Hubway (soon to be Blue Bikes.)
Dallas was one of the first cities to allow dockless bikes and scooters to operate, and with little regulation. There were some growing pains in Dallas at first, with complaints of too many bikes strewn about. A year after first allowing companies to operate, the city passed some regulations governing how the dockless bikes and scooters are to be used. The law also allows the city to charge for permits and for each bike used, thus providing revenue to enforce the regulations.
The city approved permits for dockless bikes and scooters in July. Five bike and three scooter companies will take part in a yearlong pilot program. Uber also announced in August that its JUMP e-assist bikes would be put in use in Denver, with about 250 bikes spread out across the city.
The Texas city has allowed seven bike and scooter companies to operate in specific zones. Austin in May adopted a series of administrative rules to govern how the companies should operate, after complaints of bikes being strewn about carelessly.
Many dockless companies were born out of Silicon Valley, but San Fran has actually been more cautious about it than most cities. The city finalized a permit application in June of 2017 and its first dockless bike, the e-assist bike from JUMP, began operating in January of 2018. JUMP is allowed to operate 250 bikes and could be allowed to bring in 250 more in October. But the city will not be issuing any more permits until an 18-month pilot program is over.
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