Local News

Dallas Can’t Handle Bike Share

And now there is a FOURTH company.

It was a noble idea, trying to get Dallas to become more bike-friendly by making bikes easy to access. Download an app, pay a buck for an hour, leave the bike behind. In theory, it’s great, even if Dallas doesn’t really have the infrastructure in place to support heavy bike usage. More people should ride bikes. I get it. (You probably feel like I’m going to loudly say “but” right now. You’re right.)

BUT.

I walk around downtown all the time, pretty much every day, and I can tell you that Dallas cannot handle bike share. The streets are littered with bikes from VBike and Spin and LimeBike, not parked so much as abandoned in the middle of a sidewalk, at least half of the time tipped over. It’s not just in downtown. Bikes are abandoned on the Katy Trail, randomly in neighborhoods, dumped anywhere and everywhere. In the Trinity. In White Rock Lake. It’s been bugging me for a while, but today, I saw two things that made me realize we are at a crisis point.

First, there is ANOTHER bike share company in town: OFO. That, if you are counting, yes, makes four. Not sure we could handle one, definitely can’t handle two, three is like, “What?!” and four is so dumb it’s almost funny. Because a couple of blocks away, after weaving through an obstacle course of other left-behind share bikes, I encountered these two dead Spin bikes, 10 feet away from each other.

Again, I think it’s a good idea. But I don’t see a way forward. While walking around downtown with a friend Sunday night, she compared the share bike situation to glitter. We’ll be cleaning it up forever, and just when we think we’ve gotten all of it, a little more will pop up.

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Comments

  • S. Holland Murphy

    Share bikes are the new shopping cart. I also have a nice collection of inappropriately-placed-bike pics going.

  • MattL1

    I’d love to say that yes we can handle it, we just need time and education, and instances of poorly-placed bikes will decrease over time. But I’d be full of it. We’re a second-rate (if that) trash city with horrible people who don’t deserve nice things.

    Might as well just build a high-speed expressway next to the river and turn all our downtown parkland into parking lots.

  • DubiousBrother

    A committee needs to be formed to study how other progressive cities handle this bike rental situation so they can teach us how. They could start in Baltimore : http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-bike-share-update-20170913-story.html

    • Subnx

      Oh yeah, Baltimore is such a lovely place.

  • Lolotehe

    I’m glad someone finally got that poor bike down in the river-bottoms. I was feeling bad for it.

  • I’d like to say there’s hope, but I won’t.

  • Sam_Merten
  • anthony williams

    Spinride14 will get you free rides.

  • Terry Fisher

    The combination of spoiled, disrespectful brats who won’t put their toys away properly and career panhandlers stealing and destroying the bikes ruins it for everyone else…and a fourth company adding to this congestion is the LAST thing we need. Freakin’ stupid AF.

  • David Traylor

    And the new company has the best bikes. Good basket, good kickstand, gears, and a combination lock that allows you to make stops so you don’t lose your rental to another rider when you duck into one of your stops and also so you don’t have to stop the clock, lock and re-rent. I’m happy about it. Even with three companies a couple of times I’ve been unable to find a bike to ride. The vandalism is unfortunate. But the proliferation is GREAT!

    • last year I paid a lot of money for National Football League network. NEVER AGAIN ! now I am watching National Football League online via ScreenViewsHD , It’s the best tv broadcaster this year

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  • elliot_mist

    Can you please share some insights? Maybe some data? What a piss poor effort at investigational journalism…..I think if these companies shared some data we’d find a very small % of bikes get wrecked and dumped. My assumption is that in the grand scheme of things, these bike sharing initiatives are making a lot of ppl happier and healthier vs the ppl that trip over these bikes on the streets. Cheers for your two photos of evidence that only proves you have tunnel vision. I hope someone didn’t pay you for this piece.

    • elliot_mist

      I do digress though, I just want people to realize that this is totally an opinion piece with zero data or insights. I hope the bike sharing startups continue to grow and become profitable. I also do guess that this article is talking about the 2% of instances that smart companies won’t care about.

    • @zaccrain

      Elliot, because of your comment, I have decided to return the $3,000 fee I was paid for this piece. It wouldn’t be right to keep it. I explicitly promised investigational journalism and this piece just didn’t hit that mark. Thank you, Elliot, for keeping me on my toes. Next time, if I’m lucky enough to write for this blog, it will be better.

      • cpl_marquez

        If you literally did this and aren’t being sarcastic, that would be incredibly impressive. However, I doubt the validity or sincerity if this comment.

        • @zaccrain

          cpl_marquez, I am dead serious. I just wrote a personal check. Please do not doubt the validity or sincerity if this statement. Thank you, cpl_marquez.

    • Tom Brouillard

      Exactly what I was thinking when I read this.

    • avle

      I was interested in this topic but this rough draft fairs to convince me there’s a problem, let alone a serious problem.

  • b venable

    If this bothers you, you would hate cities in Europe with their thousands of bicycles everywhere. They have huge parking lots of bikes. But cars get a pass from you. But, I do agree, Dallas does not have the ability to host bicycle riders, which is a shame. People are really using them, but our streets aren’t built for them.

    • PeterTx52

      and don’t forget the density of the European cities which encourages the use of bicycles. and don’t forget that many of those cities are centuries old, built before the advent of cars when horses and one’s own two legs were the prime means of transport

      • So what you’re saying is that Dallas definitely has the space to build better bikeways and bike parking…

      • b venable

        most cities in Europe added the bicycle lanes everywhere much later, despite the fact they were pushed for space. they made it happen. people actually go places in Europe on bicycles, rather than around in circles at a park like a toddler on a tricycle. separated bicycle lanes are an afterthought here. there is one teeny tiny one on Houston Street.

    • @zaccrain

      OK, come on — cars get a pass from me? Sure, man. Do I really have to put everything I am for or against in every blog? I will if you like. I like dark-haired women and dance movies and I don’t like cars or small talk. I think I like butternut squash? I prefer that every elected official serve one (1) six-year term. I don’t know. That’s probably enough.

      It would be better if there were huge parking lots of bikes. THAT IS WHAT I WANT. No one puts those dumb bikes anywhere. They just get off, maybe pop the kickstand, and bounce. I’m looking for people to be less cruddy about all this.

  • Happy Bennett

    Dallas politicians and urban “planners” have developed a genius for imposing things on Dallas residents that the residents really do not want and removing things from the residential scene that people really do want, all of which springs from these elitists without consulting the “peon” populace. I call it the “Wollonsky Effect”. The results are predictable.

    • JamieT

      To dreammmmm, the impossible dreammmmm….

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441952/

      And if we weren’t a second-rate (if that) trash city with horrible people who don’t deserve nice things it would TOO be possible! It would!

      • Happy Bennett

        But— according to D-Magazine and outspoken Dallas Morning News columnists, only the concerned law abiding tax payers and ordinary people who work to afford “nice things” are “horrible”.

  • MATTHBURE

    I am literally laughing so much rn…..I thought I was the only one that noticed this.

  • JohnyAlamo

    What other companies get to pedal (pun intended) their products in public parks and trails for free? Is there a license or fee that these companies are paying to the city?

    • No, Dallas isn’t SF…

      • JohnyAlamo

        Cool. So I can just set up my condom/head shop store at White Rock Lake then?

  • Happy Bennett

    Yes- Fort Worth and Arlington are so aggravatingly a threat to fairness and diversity that Mayor Raw Deal Rawlings and his band of city council henchmen may have a secret vote to remove both to a warehouse in Grand Prairie….

  • Mike Kimbro

    And there’s the inherent flaw in this model. Sure, their pricing structure is more equitable, but there’s no mechanism in place for them to make a profit, much less provide a basic level of service (which makes all the venture capital behind them all the more head-scratchy). Dock-based bike share is more expensive up front, and I know it’s hard to find someone to pony up that cash, but it’s vastly superior in every way. All the other big cities in Texas have “traditional” bike share systems (full disclosure: I work for Austin’s), and having lived in Dallas for 12+ years, I think it could work there, too.
    It’s just too bad the “non-pilot-program” out at Fair Park was pointed to as a failed pilot program by Mayor Mike and company a while back or maybe someone would make that investment. And I don’t mean to say the two Fair Park stations were a success by any stretch, just that they should’ve never been looked at as an actual means of assessing the viability of bike share in the first place. Which the city said they wouldn’t…until they did.

    • b venable

      Dock-based is not superior in the sense that you ride your bicycle around in a circle and have to bring it back to where you started. people like to ride bicycles to get somewhere. that is what will make bicycling more prevalent and desirable-to actually use them for travel. I personally think docked bike shares are done. The Observer did an article a month ago on this same subject where he interviewed the bicycle companies and they say they send people out to retrieve bikes and move them around. I personally don’t see as many as I used to and I ride the streets of downtown Dallas a lot. So some is taking them off the street to repair or whatever they are doing.

      • Mike Kimbro

        Well, that’s just not true. I work for a relatively small system and we still have 54 stations around the city core and you can dock your bike at any of them. We’re specifically designed for A-to-B trips, or we wouldn’t have any value over renting from a bike shop.
        As for docks being dead, I was just in Montreal and had the chance to tour the facilities of PBSC, the giants who supply the really huge North American cities and they have no plans of even entertaining the idea of dockless. They’re moving toward the real future…e-bikes that integrate in their existing systems. BTW, the system in Montreal has ~300 stations and over 6000 bikes and they do around 6 trips per bike per day. Citi Bike in New York has around 10,000 bikes and does over 6 trips per bike each day. The demise of docks has been greatly exaggerated.
        And I’ll concede V-Bikes definitely have local operations, but those other systems have done nothing but piss off every city they’ve entered, so I’ll believe they’re good operators when I see it.

        • b venable

          hopefully competition will make everyone better and have a synergistic effect.

          • Mike Kimbro

            Totally agree. Unfortunately, as this piece illustrates, these guys are going around creating a lot of bad will for bike share. Hopefully they listen and start investing all that Alibaba money in operations!

    • Joanna

      I actually disagree with this a lot. I have lived in nyc and Boston (and annual member of their bike shares) and also used the system in Montreal extensively. I prefer the dockless. I recognize the benefit of the docks, however the inconvenience as a user of the bikes is a real issue. Regularly not being able to find bikes and/or docking spaces during rush hour for instance was a major issue in using the system. Sure, you may have the problem of not finding a bike here, but at least you won’t have to deal with not finding a dock. In some cases the companies operating the systems have been good about being on top of reassigning bikes but more often than not, I was late to appts bc I could find a damn spot to dock.

  • Devin Agonis

    Is this any different than the cars frequently left behind on the side of every highway I drive on? 360, 114, 121, 161/GB, 183, 75, DNT, 20, 30…. things break!

  • Thy Knuhtsen

    How about the fact that they’re just a flat out eye sore?
    You just see a bunch of displaced, scattered, unnatural-colored bikes all over Katy Trail and White Rock Lake, and for what?

    Let’s not beat around the bush, you’re only using these if you’re a tourist, you’re fascinated by the technical novelty as to how your smart phone unlocks a bicycle for ride-share (woohoo!), you’re hammered or on your way to getting hammered (illegal), or you’re taking a Snapchat.

    Go buy a bike if you actually want to ride a bicycle. You can store them here in Dallas; we don’t live in shoeboxes like they do in NYC.

  • grandtreftauto

    People will be people. We what we need is local legislation that says “Hey companies, how about while you rake in the cash, you build some parking spaces for the bikes and make some new rules for them, thanks!”

  • UDA

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  • Edward Hunt

    The inherent flaw in the model is no mechanism for the bike rental
    provider to impose a financial consequence on the user for dumping the
    bikes. All this “we can’t handle it” noise ignores the fact that the
    cities with “successful” programs (as defined by not having bikes
    abandoned after use) apparently have some sort of mechanism requiring
    the bikes to, you know, actually be returned, or face a penalty.

    I guess my only
    question is: what other city has similar laissez faire policies on bike
    returns? I see no reason why this
    would not be inevitable regardless of how “second rate” the city is – try exporting the Dallas model to New York and see how that works out…

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  • 1776

    They make White Rock Lake look like a junk yard. Can’t we go somewhere in nature where we are not inundated with campaigns to try and sell us something? They already made the lake ugly enough by putting those emergency call signs everywhere, now this.

  • R V

    The public can resist this by moving inappropriately strewn bikes to places within the city limits yet highly inaccessible so the companies either have to go get them or lose them. Just rent one and leave it somewhere legal but also where nobody is likely to use it.