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For Now, Dallas Remains the Bike-Share Wild West

A pile of Ofo bikes.EXPAND
A pile of Ofo bikes.
Jim Schutze

The idea, put forward by Dallas officials and reported in the Observer  and elsewhere throughout the end of 2017, was that the City Council was going to do something about the bikes this spring. The public, inasmuch as the public is represented by Dallas social media, was fed up with the green, yellow, silver, orange and red bikes that had sprung up around the city and wanted the council to do something about it. On Monday, Dallas residents found out that's not going to happen, at least for awhile.

Since Garland-based VBikes — they're the silver ones with the yellow wheels — dropped off its first bikes in Dallas in August 2017, the company and its competitors, LimeBike, Ofo, Spin and MoBike, have placed as many as 20,000 bicycles in Dallas. The city quickly went from being one of the largest cities in the country with no bike-share program to having the most bike-share bikes in the United States, city staff said Monday. Dallas has 6,000 more bike-share bikes than New York City and 8,000 more than Seattle.

While Dallas residents and visitors to the city are using the bikes — according to city data, 70,000 riders have taken a spin on the bikes — they haven't come without headaches. Since Dallas 311 began fielding complaints about the bikes in September, residents have called the city more than 1,400 times to complain about vandalized bikes, bikes blocking sidewalks, bikes left in neighborhoods for significant periods of time and too many bikes parked in the same spot.

Kids these days.EXPAND
Kids these days.
Joe Tone

Despite the complaints, Michael Rogers and Jared White with the city's transportation department said Monday that they are going to continue working with the bike-share companies on regulations — including, potentially, designated parking zones for the bikes and tougher policies in residential areas — through the summer before working with the council to put together a comprehensive bike-share ordinance this fall.

Sandy Greyson, who said there aren't many bikes in her Far North Dallas district, praised data presented Monday that showed 70 percent of bike-share trips in the city start near public transit stops, which means people are using the bikes to make last-mile connections from transit to their destinations.

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"If [bike share] is doing what we believe it's doing, we want to encourage this," Greyson said. "I just hope people will be patient."

As part of an eventual agreement with the bike-share companies, the city will also want LimeBike, Ofo and the rest to turn over data from its users, so the city can make better transportation decisions in the future. Maps provided to the council Wednesday trace the paths that rental bikes take to, from and around the city's dense interior neighborhoods based on Ofo ridership numbers.

Where Ofo trips start, according to the company.
Where Ofo trips start, according to the company.
city of Dallas

Once a policy is developed, the city will also begin charging the companies to have their bikes parked in Dallas' right of way. Rogers pointed to Seattle's $15 per-bike, per-year charge as an example and will sign franchise agreements with each of the bike-share vendors.

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