Dockless Bikeshare Coming Soon to NYC

The New York Post is reporting that up to five dockless bikeshare operators are slated to begin operations here in New York over the coming weeks and months. The companies, which include Bluegogo and Spin, two companies that recently launched in the Bay Area with very limited success, are targeting portions of the region that are uncovered Citibike.

The tone of the Post’s coverage comes close to encapsulating the level of trepidation and concern that civic leaders have when it comes to these services:

At least five rogue companies are muscling in on Citi Bike’s turf with service that eliminates the use of docking stations — and there are no laws on the books to regulate them, The Post has learned.

Spin, Noa, BlueGoGo, Mobike, and Ofo each plan to dump thousands of bicycles on the Big Apple streets starting over the next few weeks in some of the busiest neighborhoods, source said.The companies use GPS-equipped bikes with a mechanism that locks the back tire. They can be rented using an app, which then unlocks the two-wheeled rides.

The companies charge a dollar or less for 30 minutes and the riders can leave the bike on the sidewalk when they get to their destination.

Officials and transit advocates worry bikes will be left haphazardly on sidewalks, streets, and in parks.

“New York City must proceed carefully to avoid the pitfalls seen in China, where piles of low-quality bicycles have been discarded in heaps on streets and sidewalks,” said Paul Steely White executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

Aside from the characterization of these companies as “rogue” actors who are seeking to “dump” thousands of bikes on to city streets, the ambivalent reaction from bike advocates like Steely White, who are normally natural allies of such endeavors, should cause major concerns for these firms.

Though the piece in the Post does not contain much in the way of specifics, you can bet that there is going to be a great deal of attention in public and behind the scenes dedicated to this issue over the coming months.

I have serious concerns about both the policy and business viability of these kinds of companies. Many others have expressed similar sentiments. I just don’t see how they make money or add significant value to the transportation landscape. But, I will maintain an open mind. It’s sure to be an interesting spring/summer in New York.

Featured image provided via James Schwartz on Flickr 

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