DOCKLESS BIKE SHARING:
A Great Leap But An Uncertain Landing
In barely five years, dockless bike sharing systems have gone from exciting idea to world-phenomena. There are over 70 firms that have placed somewhere between 10 and 25 million “park anywhere” bikes in several hundred cities with over a hundred-million users. China is the epicenter of this modal tsunami but the industry is rapidly expanding around the globe, including explosively in the USA.
The hope is that these systems, like the Hubway-style dock-station services that preceded them, will massively increase bike usage – reducing future increases in car congestion, improving air quality and public health, helping promote local businesses. The hope is that their low cost, ubiquity, and flexibility will make expansion easy and solve the geographic inequities of the dock-station-based approach. The Hubway model has proven to be not viable in the suburbs: boosters claim that the much-lower entry cost of dockless systems (cheaper for the vendor, no upfront investment for the municipality) will lead to their presence in a broader set of communities and help create a critical mass of voters pushing for improved cycling infrastructure, better traffic speed enforcement, and kid’s programs.
It is always wonderful to watch a local advocacy campaign that does almost everything right. Especially when you both agree with their goals and like the people involved.Read more