Dockless and electric bike-share have finally come to New York City.
The New York Times reports that the city will pilot three tests of dockless bike-share, two in Staten Island and the Bronx, boroughs which have not been served by the city’s docked bike-share system, Citi Bike. The third will be in Queens.
The pilot includes the usual suspects in the bike-share world: Lime, Ofo, Pace, and Jump, the electric pedal-assist bike-share system which is owned by Uber. Each pilot will allow 200 bikes, in the Rockaways in Queens, near Fordham University in the Bronx, and on the North Shore of Staten Island. If the trials are successful, the bikes could expand across the city, the Times reports.
Jump founder Ryan Rzepecki told the Times that he had always dreamed of bringing Jump to New York.
“It’s really dockless plus electric-assist — those two things really open up the market by making it extremely user-friendly and easy to ride,” he added.
New York transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg didn’t say what metrics for success the city would be looking for in the trials, but presumably, they will be hoping that the cycles are used and not parked in a way that enrages neighbors.
In other cities, bad behavior from users has resulted in bikes being parked blocking sidewalks and rights-of-way. Pranksters have left bikes in trees and dumped them in lakes. In the District of Columbia, where dockless bike-share operators have been participating in a pilot since September 2017, the city’s bike program specialist told the Washington Post that some operators have lost half of their fleet to theft. (The bike companies themselves dispute this number.)
The Rockaways pilot begins in mid-July, according to NY1, and features only standard bikes from Pace and Lime; the Bronx pilot will begin in mid to late July, featuring Jump and Ofo bikes, and Staten Island’s pilot starts around the same time with Jump and Lime bikes.
A fourth dockless pilot, that was to be run by Citi Bike’s parent company Motivate, was delayed because of concerns from the community about summer crowds and construction, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Just earlier this week, when it was announced that Lyft had acquired Motivate, the ride-sharing company said that it was planning to innovate in the areas of dockless and electric bicycles. Now, it seems that Motivate is experimenting with dockless bikes in both New York and Minneapolis, where Motivate operates the service Nice Ride.
The Brooklyn Eagle notes that the pilot will run until September, and until then, the Department of Transportation is seeking feedback from New Yorkers.
Rachel Kaufman is Next City's senior editor, responsible for our daily journalism. She was a longtime Next City freelance writer and editor before coming on staff full-time. She has covered transportation, sustainability, science and tech. Her writing has appeared in Inc., National Geographic News, Scientific American and other outlets.