How Dockless Bike Sharing Is Changing City Transit
New bike-sharing services eliminate the inconvenience of finding an open drop-off station, making cycling an even more appealing option for urban dwellers
Biking is on the rise in American cities—so much so that even ridesharing giants like Uber and Lyft are endeavoring to add bike sharing to their services. As Timothy Ericson, founder of bike shares Zagster and Pace, noted, “Bike sharing isn’t a new concept, but with the emergence of the sharing economy, the Internet of Things and smart city transportation, cities and tech startups are rethinking the old rent-a-bike business models with apps and other tech that enable easy inner city transit.”
Using that tech, bike-sharing services are developing dockless stations that do not need to be returned to a specific place, allowing riders to seamlessly access and drop off the bicycles in any location. PSFK researchers found several companies that are implementing this next level of convenience:
New York City-based Jump Bikes, which was acquired by Uber, launched dockless electric bike stations in San Francisco so riders don’t need to return them to a specific place. They can just unlock the bikes with their smartphone and use the built-in lock to secure the bike to a rack at the end of their ride. The bikes are also “pedal assist,” meaning they give riders a boost only while pedaling, and the bikes can go up to 20mph. The service costs two dollars for the first 30 minutes and is then prorated to under $0.07 per minute.
Spin is a dockless smart bike-sharing platform that users can park wherever they desire, once they are finished riding. Users download the Spin smartphone app and use their smartphone to scan a QR code to unlock the bike for access to ride. Riders can play $1 per half hour, or become a member and use Spin with unlimited access.
Pace is a dockless bike-sharing network that can be rented and returned anywhere, as long as it is locked to something in order to end a trip. The bikes have a built-in locking mechanism that can detect solid objects and ensures that bikes are locked to them. Users download an app to their smartphone to unlock a bike, and costs $1 per half hour, with no membership fee. Users can also “hold” bike via the app to reserve a bike for later use.
LimeBike is a dockless bike-sharing system that lets customers park their bikes anywhere when they’re done or ready to be picked up by someone else. Limebike unveiled an electric-assist bike called Lime-E that has a motor with a rechargeable lithium battery. The company charges $1 per half-hour rental and an additional $1 for every 10 minutes a user rides. LimeBike also collects data from riders and shares it with cities, providing valuable information for transportation infrastructure.
By eliminating the potential inconvenience of finding an open docking station, bike-sharing becomes an even more feasible option for urban dwellers—with the added benefit that an uptick in cycling promotes healthier communities and more sustainable cities. For more insights on this subject, download the PSFK research paper Transforming The Ridesharing Economy.
Lead Image: Spin