More than 1,000 cities around the world now offer some form of bikeshare service, and dockless schemes are becoming increasingly popular due to their scalability and the relatively low capital investment required from cities to launch.
What’s more, with providers claiming to operate bikesharing profitably, there is the potential for considerable growth.
But a policy brief from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) urges local governments to regulate dockless bikesharing to ensure the schemes are properly managed and integrated into the city’s broader transportation system.
The paper sets out five elements that will help dockless bikeshare do well in cities:
1. Integration with the city’s mass transit network — with flexible and reduced payment options, transit fare integration, and ensuring a good distribution of bikes, connecting dockless systems to the wider transit network.
2. Data sharing — ensuring access to real-time data on the location of every dockless bike, as well as aggregated trip and other operations data.
3. Public space management — preventing bikes from cluttering the streets, for example by having caps on fleet size and requiring timely responses to parking issues.
4. User protections — clearly displaying safety information, meeting equipment and insurance standards, and acting responsibly with regard to user privacy, deposits and refunds.
5. Dedicated staff — cities must dedicate staff and resources to monitor operations and enforce regulations, develop plans for improving cycle lanes, and strengthen integration and connectivity.
“The best transit innovations — especially those that are privately operated — offer riders convenient, affordable options for getting where they need to go,” said ITDP senior research associate Dana Yanocha. “Local governments that have viewed dockless bikeshare as an extension of their transit systems and introduced some form of regulation have seen ridership flourish as a result.”