Those Red, Green, Orange and Yellow Bikes – Update on DC Dockless Bike Share Pilot Program
by Larry Janezich
ANC6C’s Transportation Committee, chaired by Mark Kazmierczak, asked DDOT for an update on the District’s dockless bike share pilot program. DDOT Policy Analyst Jonathan M. Rogers was happy to oblige at the Committee’s meeting last Thursday.
The District is open to proposals which allow more people to bike, and DDOT sees a potential for as many as 20,000 dockless bikes on city streets. They would supplement – not replace – the currently sanctioned Capital Bikeshare’s 4162 bikes at 440 stations in operation.
There are five companies participating in the pilot program authorized through April 2018 – Jump (red/electric), Mobike (orange & silver), Ofo (yellow), Lime Bike (Lime), and Spin (orange), with – according to Rogers – more companies waiting in line. In addition, “Bird,” a Santa Monica based dockless electric scooter company has expressed interest in providing service in DC.
Users of the dockless bikes find a bicycle using a smart phone app, create an account and payment method with the appropriate company, rent a bicycle at an hourly rate ($1/30 minutes except Jump with is $2/30minutes), and end their trip anywhere they can legally park a bicycle (leaving pedestrian space of at least 5 feet, not blocking entrances or driveways, not blocking Capital Bikeshare stations, not blocking bicycle motor vehicle traffic, and not in a tree box planting area). In addition, federal lands like the mall, the White House, the US Capitol Grounds, and numerous triangle parks are no parking zones.
During the pilot program, DDOT will be looking at how to manage a dockless bike program, how many vendors should there be and how to decide which vendors to license, how to enforce the program, bicycle design requirements, costs of operations, and penalties for bad operations. In addition, DDOT will assess how dockless bike share interacts with Capital Bikeshare.
Rogers pointed to vandalism, theft, and impediment parking as some of the early indicators of challenges the program faces.
At the end April, DDOT’s policy and legislative affairs division will make a recommendation on the future of the program to the DDOT Director and other city officials. The choices will be to extend the pilot which will require additional rulemaking and enforcement, or decide that the pilot program wasn’t worth it and should be terminated. In any event, Rogers said, residents should not expect a final decision after this preliminary assessment.