DDOT: DC generally favors dockless bike share so far; dozens stolen

Since DDOT started issuing permits to operators in September, five companies have introduced dockless biking to D.C. : Spin, Limebike, Jump, Mobiek and Ofo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — The District’s experiment with dockless bike sharing has added access for some people, but seriously bothered others concerned about bikes sometimes left in the middle of sidewalks or other public spaces.

Dozens of the bikes have also been stolen.

The District Department of Transportation is still evaluating the pilot program to decide what, if any, dockless bike sharing should be allowed in the future, Director Jeff Marootian is set to tell a D.C. Council committee Tuesday afternoon.

The initial permits from DDOT for up to 400 active bikes for each company run through April.

The bikes, however, do not appear to have had a significant impact on Capital Bikeshare ridership, DDOT’s analysis suggests. (Capital Bikeshare has more than 3,700 bikes across the region.)

“Thus far, there does not appear to be negative impacts on Capital Bikeshare, except potentially in casual users,” DDOT said in written responses to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

“There do seem to be some benefits in diversifying the populations who have access to bicycle sharing as a mode of transportation. There have also been impacts to public space and public space management, particularly concentrated in some locations.”

While far fewer people are using the dockless bikes than Capital Bikeshare at this point, DDOT plans to further analyze data on the locations of the trips to figure out if the bikes have boosted the number of people riding overall in any particular neighborhoods.

However, of the five companies participating in the program, only one has fully complied with data-sharing requirements. JUMP — the company with red bikes that have motors inside to assist with pedaling — reported three crashes between September and January. In addition, one bike was stolen.

JUMP is the only one of the dockless bike shares that requires being locked to a bike rack or other physical object when a rider is done, so it cannot be left in the middle of a sidewalk.

DDOT is attempting to get complete data from the other four companies: Spin, Ofo, LimeBike and Mobike.

Spin bikes were reported stolen 122 times over five months. That includes bikes that were physically stolen, vandalized or had GPS issues, the company told WTOP. In January, 14 of their bikes were out for maintenance.

Ofo, Limebike and Mobike reported the least data to DDOT. LimeBike reported six of its bikes stolen in January; Mobike reported five of its bikes stolen in December; and Ofo reported hundreds of its bikes out of service for maintenance in each November, December and January.

Despite some organized anti-bike sharing efforts, DDOT said it received three complaints “explicitly pertaining” to dockless bike share through 311 and received 81 complaints via email; 247 emailed comments have been “explicitly supportive of the demonstration period,” and another eight emails did not explicitly support or oppose the bikes.

JUMP (red bikes) charges $2 for up to 30 minutes, while the others generally charge $1.

Ofo (yellow and black bikes) charges $1 per hour. Spin (orange and black), LimeBike (green and yellow) and Mobike (silver and orange) each charge $1 for up to 30 minutes.

LimeBike and Spin also have monthly memberships for around $30 a month.

For comparison, Capital Bikeshare users get unlimited free 30 minute rides between docks for $85 per year.

LimeBike, Mobike, Ofo and Spin have also expanded into Montgomery County to include Takoma Park and parts of Silver Spring, mainly inside the Capital Beltway.


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