The new fad that’s taken over some cities is the “Dockless Bike.” Are they a good idea or a bad idea? Only time will really tell.
At first glance you’d think wow, I can just pick up a bike anywhere and ride it for a bargain price and then leave it anywhere. That’s a pretty awesome concept.
But what if, that “anywhere”, is in part of a crowded walkway, a walkway that blocks a wheelchair? Imagine a half a dozen dockless bikes on a sidewalk. That sidewalk is now narrowed down so much, it forces a person in wheelchair to go around them and into the street.
What if someone with a seeing eye dog needs to negotiate around the scattered bikes on a sidewalk? How can that trained dog provide its owner with a safe path when it doesn’t understand the many bikes that now are scattered randomly in its path?
Now, what about private property? Why is there a dockless bike, left in front of my house or on my lawn? What do we do about that?
Are the dockless bike companies infringing on the rights of the average person who uses the sidewalk ? Are we allowing private bike companies to take away the rights of taxpayers? Are dockless bike companies making a profit from parking their bikes on public and private land without the permission of the people who own or run it?
There has to be a balance here
Dockless bikes are popping up everywhere but bike lanes and separate bike paths are not. The infrastructure is just not there in most American cities for the local government to allow dockless bike companies. Not just yet anyways.
Cities need to build a quality biking infrastructure. Then the hordes of rental bikes can come and they will. All ages will then, safely enjoy commuting, traveling and sightseeing by bike.
With that being said, you can’t just put bikes on the street with unseasoned riders. Someone will get hurt or worse killed. So the other choice is to ride on the sidewalk. That shouldn’t be an option.
Here in my area the dockless bikes are in the most traveled areas. It’s also the area with poor bike lanes and a high rate of traffic accidents. Adding new social riders to this scenario is just more accidents waiting to happen.
Do the people who are renting these bikes know the local laws? What about bike helmets? The rental companies don’t provide them. But in many places it’s the law and or recommended. Someone needs to watch over it and regulate the bike rentals. Are the dockless bike companies implying that the area the bikes are in, is safe for biking? After all they have bikes there without helmets I may add.
Dockless bikes are a great idea. But it’s only one piece in the puzzle. We need all the pieces of the puzzle (bike path, bike safety, bike infrastructure) to fit nicely together in order to make it a safe, fun and profitable experience for all.
On a side note. For 5 days I have cruised on my bike. I’ve watched and photgraphed for this story, but in that time I have only seen 2 people riding a dockless bike. But I’ve seen hundreds of dockless bikes.