While San Diego lacks an efficient public transit system, new dockless bikes make traveling across the city a new reality for many. Downtown San Diego was flooded with new technology, as dockless bikes, bikes that can be used among community members without needing a place to store them, from multiple companies such as LimeBike, Ofo, Bird, and Mobike took the city by storm on Feb. 15. These bikes and scooters, unlike the original docking bikes from the company Discover Bike, don’t have to be stored. Customers merely download a GPS app to find a random bike and go for a ride.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego is the only city in the region in which multiple [dockless bike] operators are competing against each other in this new market.
In order to obtain and ride the bikes without trouble, a customer has to always have a helmet on and must be a licensed automobile driver. If these rules are violated the police will cite the customer.
These dockless bikes are receiving both praise and condemnation from different groups. This new tech’s fans are mainly environmentalists, as bike riding is a cleaner way of transportation, and their enemies, merchant groups and community leaders, who complain about clogged sidewalks.
According to Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of the San Diego County Bike Coalition, “[companies such as] Limebike [are] creating a more convenient, affordable and accessible alternative transportation system.”
Even as these bikes are considered to be a great asset to downtown San Diego, concern over these dockless bikes where abouts and their security is still unaddressed.
Dockless bikes have been circulating around the world for about two years now. While research has found increased popularity in China, the supply of the bikes beats the demand of them on the daily. Also France saw a dockless bike company close its doors due to vandalism and theft of the bikes.
As a result of these factors community leaders have not stepped up to further support total integration of these bikes as part of regular transportation, and private companies are mostly dominating. Regardless, time will tell the future of dockless bikes, and whether or not they will become common forms of transportation not only in San Diego but in cities across the country.