Dallas City Leaders Plan Bike Share Rules Despite Push Back

Fees for operators and parking enforcement are in the plan

Dallas city leaders agree regulation is needed for bike sharing and insist it should happen by the end of June. But they could not agree on the details Wednesday.

Bike sharing only began in Dallas last year when companies began to place bikes for rent by cell phone apps, with no permanent docking locations, around the city.

"Dallas has gone from the largest city in America without bike share to the largest bike share program in America in a matter of four months and I think it's something we've got to be proud of," said Councilman Lee Kleinman.

The estimate of 15,000 shared bikes on Dallas streets now is fewer than the 20,000 estimated a few months ago, but still too many according to some city leaders.

"I do not want to see the clutter of all these bikes. I'm sorry," Mayor Mike Rawlings said.

The plan rolled out by city staff Wednesday was to receive a Dallas City Council vote next week. The mayor and several other members want a few more weeks for more work.

"I want to be sure we are sending the right signal to our citizens that this is thoughtful and we're doing this right because citizens have been upset about this, ok? And we've got to be very thoughtful," Rawlings said.

Wednesday's plan was to charge shared bike operators a license fee and registration fee on individual bikes. The new fees might further reduce clutter by limiting how many bikes the companies can afford to pay for, but also limit the neighborhoods the operators serve.

"If you impose high fees it makes it very difficult for us to operate in an equitable system that's going to serve every neighborhood and that's our goal," said ofo Bike Head of External Affairs Carter Stern.

Several city council members support higher fees to pay more of the cost of shared bikes, including new designated parking areas that might reduce clutter.

"I'm concerned that we don't have proper cost recovery. I'm concerned that the fee is too low to capture all that. And I'm concerned that we are making decisions without knowing what's there," Councilman Adam McGough said.

The city revenue for regulating and enforcing shared bike rules would vary depending on how many bikes the companies chose to operate.

"I've seen the improvement of less bikes. I've seen them not on the ground as much. And I've gotten reports that you guys are doing a better job answering complaints," Councilman Adam Medrano said.

Proposed enforcement would give the companies two hours to remove improperly parked bikes after they are reported to the city. A 311 app now includes bike sharing complaints to make it easy for residents. Some council members wanted even faster enforcement.

City Councilman Phil Kingston said bike sharing has been a success.

"In terms of the reduction in pollution, in terms of the increase in exercise, in terms of the reduction in congestion on downtown streets, there is a measurable effect of bike share," Kingston said.

The discussion Wednesday was for a final vote on June 27th, at the last Dallas City Council meeting before the council’s month long July recess.

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