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Not everyone in D.C. is in love with dockless bikeshare

By Dikembe Wilkins, Howard University News Services
On April 3, 2018

WASHINGTON--In the fall of 2017, Washington D.C. began a seven-month demonstration period for dockless bike sharing.

There are currently 4,800 dockless bikes within the city, and, according to the District Department of Transportation, they are used more than bikes from the city’s own public bike sharing service, Capital Bikeshare.

However, not all of D.C.’s residents are ready to get behind dockless bike sharing.

At the Feb. 26 meeting of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3/4G, the majority of the commissioners shared their opinions on dockless bike sharing, many of which were negative.

“Nobody I talk to likes these things,” Commissioner Rebecca Maydack said.

Commissioner Dan Bradfield stated that he has around 30 handwritten complaints about dockless bike sharing. Over the course of the meeting, numerous complaints included incorrectly parking bikes, damaging bikes and more.

Bikes can be parked on (not in the middle of) sidewalks, bike racks and close to the curb.

They cannot be parked at sidewalk corners, bus stops, near benches loading zones, driveways, curb ramps, landscaped areas or blocking a handicap ramp.

DDOT Chief Project Delivery Officer Sam Zimbabwe acknowledged that since dockless bikes were introduced, Capital Bikeshare has received more positive feedback. While there seemed to be a lot of negative opinions regarding dockless bike share, the consensus was that the riders of the dockless bikes are more so the problems than the providers of the bikes.

Capital Bikeshare has mentioned that it is thinking of implementing a fine of some sort upon riders that mistreat, illegally park or steal dockless bikes by working with private operators such as LimeBike, Spin, and JUMP but had been no progress.

LimeBike stated, “We focus on education rather than restriction at LimeBike. We believe that with time and awareness, dock-free bike-share will become part of urban culture.”

LimeBike’s statement does not mean that if a bike is stolen or damaged that there will be no repercussions.

Cameron Mullen, a representative from Spin, said that if a bike must be moved, there could be a relocation fee applied to the last rider of the bicycle. According to DDOT, the District favors dockless bike share so far; dozens stolen, by Max Smith, JUMP has experienced the least thefts of all the dockless bike shares with only one. Granted, they do have the least amount of bikes in the city, with only 100.

A JUMP bike operates using electricity. If someone were to steal a bike the company says that the bike would eventually run out of power and become difficult to move.

Dockless bike share companies may need to address complaints if they want to continue to operate and remain competitive in the District.

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