Tuesday, May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024
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The One Thing Missing from the Bike Share Debate

Short version: It's data. The bike share companies need to cough up ridership info to the city.

As others have pointed out, it’s wonderful that a city as car-clogged as Dallas is talking about bikes at all. But there is one thing missing from both sides of the debate over the value of regulations for the rental bikes we can’t seem to stop writing about, and it’s something the bike share companies seem loathe to share.

It’s detailed ridership data, which the city is demanding, but not necessarily getting, Dallas’ transportation director told the Morning News last week. The information that has been released by companies like LimeBike is cherry-picked and at times vague, fit for a press release but not for discussions on creating sensible regulations, or developing bike infrastructure to support riders’ habits. Ofo won’t even say publicly how large its Dallas fleet is, although it seems to comprise at least the second-biggest chunk of the more than 20,000 rental bikes in the area. No company except for VBikes will own up to how many of its bikes have been stolen: 600 of its 2,400 bikes, or a quarter of its fleet. (If any of the bike share companies happen to go bankrupt, it won’t be them fishing their missing products out of White Rock Lake.)

If the city wants to regulate bike share, or — even better — use this as an opportunity to create a more bike-friendly Dallas, it needs to know what it’s working with. For that to happen, the bike share companies need to share a little bit more.