Dallas Working With Bike Share Companies to Curb Problems

Bike share popularity surges in Dallas

The city of Dallas is working with bike sharing companies to promote proper parking and courtesy as a fourth vendor joins the competition.

Ofo announced Thursday it is putting 1,000 of its yellow bicycles in Dallas.

"Because of the size of our operations, being the oldest and the largest, we believe we run operations better," said Chris Taylor, head of Ofo USA.

Lime Bike already has 1,000 green and yellow bikes in Dallas with plans to grow to 5,000. V-Bike has silver bikes with yellow wheels. Spin has orange bikes stationed around the city.

Vann Vaughan is a frequent rider.

"I think Ofo and Lime Bike run about the same because they both have the same features," he said. "I think there's going to be a healthy competition between Ofo and Lime Bike."

Vaughan said he uses shared bikes to travel from DART rail stations to his job with a web development school at 500 South Ervay Street.

"These are very convenient in the sense that you can go and stop wherever you want. But at the same time, you have people that are going to be inconsiderate. They're going to leave them in the middle of walkways, out on the road," Vaughan said.

A few years ago, Dallas was well behind other large cities in bike sharing, according to City Councilman Philip Kingston.

"We were the only ones without bike share," Kingston said. "Suddenly we are the hottest competitive market for dock-less bike share."

All four Dallas companies allow riders to activate bikes with a smart phone app and then leave the bike at a destination for the next rider to use.

The bike sharing program in Fort Worth and some other cities requires riders to remove and return the bikes to stationary racks, which keeps them stored in specific locations.

Kingston said the Dallas method is better for two reasons.

"The racks are less convenient for consumers. Two, all of those rack systems, every one, requires a large public subsidy every year. None of these companies have asked us for any money," Kingston said.

But with the surge in popularity, the city is asking the companies to keep the bikes properly maintained and to help educate riders about proper storage.

Ofo's Chris Taylor pledged to do just that.

"It's really important for us to insure that that not only the rider gets a good experience but the community gets a good experience," Taylor said.

A downtown Dallas business group is planning to add storage for the unlocked shared bikes at key locations.

A bike parking area at the recently renovated 500 South Ervay building is considered an example by city officials.

But bikes found at that location Thursday were parked in a building courtyard, not in the storage area.

"Just as long as it's out of the way, that's probably the most important thing to me," said rider Vann Vaughan. "When it's in the middle of a walkway, that's where it becomes a nuisance."

Councilman Kingston said city officials are trying to promote good behavior instead of adding new rules.

"We want to see how the companies compete with each other and how they can regulate it before we come with any kind of onerous regulation," Kingston said.

Bike sharing has been added as a category to the 311 smart phone app Dallas uses to receive code violation complaints. The city is establishing a method to forward those complaints to the companies so they can remove or repair their bikes.

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