Earlier this summer, bike sharing programs hit DFW with gusto. Orange, yellow and green bikes now dot the streets, duking it out in a colorful turf war for two-wheeled supremacy. In Dallas, there are so many bikes that a ride seems to be no more than a few steps from wherever you might be.
On the whole, DFW seems to be welcoming bike sharing companies VBikes, Spin and LimeBike.
companies know there is a demand for bikes, and if the sheer visual presence of them indicates anything, it's that DFW likes bikes. Most of the reviews on the companies’ pages have been positive. People appreciate the cheap transportation and convenient opportunity to exercise.
The rub of stationless bike sharing is that the bikes are, well, stationless. With so many bikes out and about, some people have begun to get a little lazy with their parking jobs while others are downright mischievous.
On social media, you can find evidence of people parking bikes in the way of bike or pedestrian paths around the city.
"Dear Spin, VBike and Limebike please park bikes in a way that doesn’t block sidewalks. I ride my own bike daily as I have in Dallas since ’96 and the practice of inconsiderate parking seems to be causing a backlash. I’ve also seen these bikes blocking wheelchair ramps,” Max Bell posted to Facebook. "If we [cyclists] are considerate neighbors we will gain the broad community support we deserve.”
In addition, some users are sequestering bikes for personal use, either by using locks or by dropping bikes in out-of-the-way locations near workplaces or homes.
“Seems ya’ll are being sabotaged?” posted Facebook user Dom Vieyra, along with a picture showing a Vbike locked up outside 7-Eleven on Elm Street and Good Latimer Expressway. "Are these allowed to be locked up and kept from use in order to continue use later in the day?”
All three bike-sharing companies say they dispatch teams to collect unused or unwanted bikes. They've also been responding quickly to complaints about their bikes and ways they're being used.
However, the companies have different timelines for moving underutilized bikes. Here’s how each responded when asked about how long it allows a bike to sit unused:
VBikes: “We usually let the bike stay until the bike gets located and used.”
LimeBike: “Ultimately it depends on location. We rebalance regularly, so our team will move less used bikes to more popular areas.”
Spin: “We have ground teams that can come out and relocate any bike with ease. We urge anyone to contact us directly if that [a bike needing to be moved] is the case.”
Some customers in downtown Dallas have seen people trying make money off of the bikes by “renting” them out.
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"Is it me or have you noticed that within the past few weeks people, who don’t own 2 cents, are riding LimeBikes around downtown?” Carlos Alberto Orozco asked on Facebook. "Yesterday, one of them was trying to rent the bike for $ to a pedestrian."
A LimeBike spokesperson responded that the company is "aware of the issue."
It is unclear how the companies' security measures can be overridden, but as we all know, locks were made to be picked.
If you enjoy two-wheeled escapades on a cycle not your own, do the bike-sharing world a favor: Spend a couple of the extra minutes you saved not having to walk and find an appropriate resting place for your ride.