Dockless Bikeshare Comes to DowntownDC

Thursday, October 5, 2017

By Alex Block

As you may have recently noticed in DowntownDC, shared bicycles are parked around town on public streets and sidewalks for consumer use, and for the first time, these bikes do not have to be returned to a docking station.
 
Several private dockless bikeshare companies began operation in the District on Sept. 20 as part of a District Department of Transportation (DDOT) demonstration period that will run through April 2018 to test this new bikeshare approach as a consideration for the District.
 
Below, you will find information about dockless bikeshare as well as how to submit your feedback to the city about this demonstration.
 
What is dockless bikeshare?  


Dockless bikeshare refers to a number of systems that allow for short-term, one-way bike rental without any physical docking stations. These systems utilize smartphone apps to allow customers to locate and unlock and lock bikes.  Users can leave a bike parked in an appropriate area on the sidewalk or at a bike rack in public space. The absence of a docking station is what makes these systems differ from Capital Bikeshare, which currently operates throughout the region and utilizes docking stations.
 
Who is offering dockless bikeshare? 

Currently, there are four dockless bikeshare companies operating in D.C.: JumpLimeBikeMobike; and Spin. More may follow. Unlike Capital Bikeshare (which is owned by the governments that partner to fund the service and operated by a private contractor), these dockless bikeshare systems are privately owned and operated.  

  • Jump: This company's big, red bikes are the most distinctive of the dockless bikeshare operators, because the bicycles contain an electric motor to assist your pedaling. Unlike the other dockless operators, Jump bikes must also be locked to a bike rack when not in use (a lock is provided with the bike). Jump charges $2 per 30 minute ride. 
  • LimeBike: You can spot LimeBikes by their distinctive green and yellow paint scheme. The company is based in San Mateo, California and operates in several US cities, including Seattle and Dallas. Riders can unlock a bike by scanning a QR code with their smartphone, and the cost is $1 per ride. 
  • Mobike: These gray bikes with orange trim are the first US operation for the Chinese firm. They claim to be the world’s largest bicycle operator. The cost to riders is $1 per 30 minutes.  
  • Spin: Washington, D.C. is the first city to receive Spin’s orange bikes. This San Francisco-based company charges $1 per half hour, with unlimited ride options for members.  
 
Why is this being explored?
Currently, Capital Bikeshare is the only bikeshare system offered in the District. Dockless bikeshare systems would allow the city to extend bikeshare access to new areas of the city and increase the number of bikes available to customers.
 
How can I get involved?  
The District’s goal is to use this demonstration period to collect data and observations to inform the future operation and regulation of these companies. As such, DDOT is  collecting feedback about any issues, benefits, or concerns about dockless bikeshare systems as well as information on specific companies. DDOT will request feedback throughout the pilot. Initially, DDOT is interested in feedback regarding:
  • The total number of bikes 
  • Bike parking 
  • Reporting requirements for operators 
  • Safety and education for riders
Submit feedback to DDOT via email at: publicspace.policy@dc.gov 
 
If you would like to report a specific incident of a poorly parked bike, it would be helpful to provide as much detail as possible: date, time, location, the operator, etc. 
 
Additionally, the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) would love to hear from you about your experiences and observations with dockless bikeshare.  
 
Please contact Alex Block at alex@downtowndc.org to share your feedback with the BID.