Last month, Dallas officials gave the five bike-share companies currently operating in the city a deadline of this Friday to get their two-wheeled troops in order.
City staff met with the companies on Dec. 7 to discuss operational expectations. Instead of improvement, Dallas officials said they had seen the situation “deteriorate.” The city estimates there are 20,000 bikes total in Dallas, the Dallas Morning News reports.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax sent a letter on Jan. 18, directing the companies to take the following steps:
1. Relocate all bicycles:
- Located on sidewalks narrower than 10 feet in width
- Located on turf, landscaping or other unimproved surfaces
- Blocking access locations to public or private property and transit stops (including bus and rail transit)
- Blocking sidewalk curb ramps
- Located on multi-use trails to their respective trailheads.
2. Provide the names and contact information for persons/entities managing your operational and maintenance activities.
If the companies — VBikes, Ofo, Spin, LimeBike and Mobike — don’t comply, “the City may be left with no choice but to begin removing bicycles in its rights of way, sidewalks, trails and/or trailheads that are identified as obstructions or hazards.”
Here’s how a few of the companies have responded to the warning so far:
The California-based company sent a memo to the city on Jan. 24 with its immediate actions, including stopping deployment of new bikes, redistributing its current fleet of bikes more evenly throughout the city and “continuing to work with city officials on regulations.”
LimeBike has rolled out 10,000 bikes in Dallas, according to the Morning News.
The company has also produced a few videos on how to use its bikes, including this “Matrix”-themed one on parking them properly.
Mobike, based in Beijing, says it will cap the number of its bicycles at 3,000 until Dallas creates firm guidelines, D Magazine reports. Mobike will also work on educating its riders to park their bikes properly and include a feature on its app to report poorly parked bikes, which would penalized that rider’s “Mobike score,” according to D.
Another Beijing-based company, Ofo, launched in Dallas with 1,100 bright yellow bikes and then increased the number because of demand, the Morning News reports. The current number has not been disclosed. The company last month released the following response to Broadnax’s letter, according to the Morning News:
"It was with considerable relief that we received your letter ... calling for an end to bad behavior and repercussions for those dockless bike share operators who have flouted generally accepted operational standards," Ofo's Dallas-based general manager Everett Weiler told Broadnax. "While we take issue with the failure to differentiate between the various bike share companies, we confess that the behavior of some of our fellow operators worries us deeply and tarnishes the reputation of the industry that Ofo created."
“In his letter to the city manager, Weiler wrote that ‘our greatest concern is that regulation will impair the ability of responsible operators to provide a much needed service to residents and visitors but fail to prevent damage caused by the less conscientious among us.’”
Garland-based VBikes first brought bike-sharing to Dallas over the summer. It posted on Facebook the day Broadnax sent the letter, saying it never wants its bikes to “be an obstruction in any sort of way.”