Can dockless and station-based bike-share programs coexist? - Curbed

Imagine a “bike-share program that lets novice riders loose” to “flood streets with thousands of uninsured cyclists.” Sounds scary, right? “10,000 extra bicycles could pose a real danger.”

Although these headlines look like they were ripped from today’s internet, they’re actually from 2013. Five years ago this month, the U.S.’s largest bike-share system, Citi Bike, launched in New York City, where worries about having bikes “all over the place” sound very similar to concerns about dockless operators today.

While station-based bike share turned out to be an unmitigated success for the U.S., anxiety about the dockless revolution remains at a fever pitch, with cities fretting about operators offering artificially low pricing, riders blocking the right-of-way, and broken bikes ending up stacked into graveyards. But is this criticism warranted?

Each year the National Association for City Transportation Officials (NACTO) publishes a report on U.S. bike-share systems. This year’s report is the first to include dockless systems (although not e-scooters), and it reveals some surprising trends about where bike share might be headed.

The number of bike-share bicycles in the U.S. doubled in 2017, mostly thanks to dockless operators. NACTO’s data shows that by the end of the year, dockless bikes made up 44 percent of all bike-share bikes on the ground in cities.

However, even though overall ridership nationwide was up 25 percent over the previous year, the station-based bikes are still making more of the trips. Dockless bikes only represented 4 percent of all rides in 2017, although many of these systems opened throughout the year and therefore did not operate for the full 12 months.

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