Governments have had a history of struggle trying to afford bikeshare systems. But, all of a sudden, there has been an abrupt increase in startups that offer bikes to cities for free. Now, all of a sudden, money is no longer a barrier in introducing and incorporating a bikeshare system.
According to transportation experts, bicycling resolves the issues of public health, air pollution and traffic congestion. It is also considered to be a very fast way to navigate around urban areas. Cities such as Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago offer bikeshare systems, but they have not broadened the bikeshare networks to all neighbourhoods, nor have they increased the number of bikes to offer.
Big investors from California’s Silicon Valley and China have invested large amounts into multiple bikesharing startups that, interestingly, offer a twist. Apart from docking stations, bikers can park the bikes at various other locations. Quite simply, the rider can find bikes using his smartphone app; he can use the bike and drop it off at parking spots that are essentially approved. These approved parking spots can include spaces next to street signs, street corners and public bike racks. Riders should ensure that sidewalks are not blocked.
China was first to popularise the concept of bikesharing. Mobike and Ofo, Chinese companies, have engaged in more than $1 billion to develop this concept. They are coming to the US to compete with LimeBike and Spin—startups based in the US—who plan to adopt dockless technology too.
According to the transportation experts, either this shift could cause bicycling revolution in the US, or it could fail miserably. Private bikeshare companies, now, get the option to function without any costs to the city. So, now, cities can divert their costs to other places and the companies can operate in much easier fashion.
Last summer, Dallas embraced the dockless bikeshare system with open arms. Thanks to the Silicon Valley startups, the city would not have to spend money on anything to get the programme and the bikeshare system operational.
Apart from Dallas, the small city of Revere, Massachusetts, too, has become a part of bikeshare system. Ofo introduced around 200 dockless bicycles in Revere. Washington DC is the first city in the US with the new dockless bikeshare options. Startups like LimeBike and Jump Mobility have resulted in the number of shared bicycles to grow by 50 percent.
However, dockless technology is not free from drawbacks. Even though, the plan was successful in China, a lot of cities witness unattended bicycles cramming the streets. In order to counter that, the US cities have started to release bicycles at a slow rate to avoid a bottleneck situation.