With a city-imposed deadline approaching Friday, shared-bike companies are scrambling in Dallas to fix clutter and jumble which has generated 936 comments since September.
The city manager threatened to seize improperly parked bikes after Friday, so companies were scrambling Wednesday to put them in order.
The city released a map Wednesday with dots showing the location of complaints. There are fewer dots on the map than the number of citizen comments, because multiple reports came from similar locations.
Many of the remarks are centered in Downtown, Uptown and the White Rock Lake areas, portions of which are represented by Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston.
The Dallas approach to encourage the use of bicycles for transportation includes no stationary racks which some other cities have required.
"It's providing us a benefit without requiring tax dollars," Kingston said. "Every docked program in the country depends on heavy taxpayer subsidies."
Riders pay by credit card to unlock the bikes, and the companies rely on customers to leave them in safe places when they are finished riding. So far, there have been no restrictions on how many bikes a company can place in Dallas.
Five operators have entered the Dallas market so far and another one is on the way.
Some people see bicycles on sidewalks as a nuisance.
"It's a good idea, but there are far too many of them all over the place, just way too many," said downtown worker Kendrick Faggett.
He is a supervisor for a downtown automobile parking company, so he travels around the downtown area regularly. He said the multi-color bikes are scattered around his East Dallas home as well.
"They're all over Pleasant Grove, Oak Cliff, South Dallas and in my area," he said. "There are just bikes in the field."
In a letter to the companies last month, the Dallas city manager set the deadline of this Friday to clear up problems, with seizure of improperly parked bikes possible after that.
Wednesday, Dallas bicycle planner Jared White said seizures would not happen immediately. Instead, city officials will examine the situation and notify companies if seizures are planned.
White said officials have noticed some improvement since the manager's letter, but comments from citizens are still coming into the Dallas 311 system.
Figures released Wednesday include 23 comments in September, 28 in October, 50 in November, 145 in December, 505 in January and 185 so far this month.
More than half of the 936 comments were for bike-share vendor LimeBike with 589, followed by Ofo with 194, Vbikes with 101, Spin with 43 and Mobike with nine.
White said a city council briefing will be presented at the end of this month with options for bike-sharing regulations.
Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston said a city council vote on regulations could come in March.
"People who are tired of waiting for us to regulate, the time is now and we're going to regulate," Kingston said.
Kingston wrote an opinion article that appeared in Wednesday's Dallas Morning News detailing his proposals for regulations.
His plan calls for:
A registration fee on each shared bike for use of the city right of way.
Data sharing by the companies with the city to show where usage is occurring.
Bike maintenance requirements and density limitations on the number of bikes in a given area.
Equity requirements to serve all areas of Dallas with bicycles as a transportation method.
"The market forces, both from competition and from having to pay the city for the use of the right of way, will naturally decrease the concentration and number of bikes," Kingston said.
The councilman said data provided by the companies so far indicates users have ridden 250,000 miles on shared bikes.
"In a city with a 33-percent obesity rate, that is a meaningful number," Kingston said.
Furthermore, the data shows the highest usage in morning and afternoon rush hours.
"Meaning these are rides that are replacing car trips," Kingston said. "So people who don't even want to ride the bikes, who might even be offended by the bikes, are seeing a material benefit in the way traffic flows in the city of Dallas because other people are choosing not to use cars."
Kingston said many of the comments about bike share are not complaints but remarks about the program. He also defended LimeBike in receiving the highest number of comments as a possible victim of its own success.
"LimeBike has done the best job of branding, and that's why it is subject to more complaints," Kingston said.
Ofo has the highest number of shared bikes in Dallas.
Critics believe some providers competing in the Dallas bike-sharing experiment may drop out because it could be harder to make money once fees and regulations are imposed.
LimeBike representative Mary Caroline Pruitt said employees were busy moving bikes Wednesday. The company plans a job fair Thursday to add more employees and a community clean-up event at T & P Hill Park near White Rock Lake on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.