Man bicycling and row of bikes
(Photo: Courtesy of Institute for Transportation and Development Policy)

In many cities, people can rent bicycles that are docked at bike racks in busy areas. Now, to get even more people on bikes, some cities are experimenting with dockless bike-sharing.

Magnusson: “The idea with dockless bikes is that you can take them anywhere and leave them anywhere so that they’re a much more flexible cycling solution than docked bikeshare.”

Jemilah Magnusson of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy says riders use a GPS-based app to locate available bikes. The bikes are self-locking and only unlock when a registered user starts a ride.

Advocates say dockless sharing ensures that you can find a bike when you need it. And it extends the reach of the system to neighborhoods without docking stations.

But dockless systems also come with problems, such as abandoned bikes cluttering sidewalks. So many cities are imposing new bike parking rules.

Ultimately, all bike share systems aim to get more people riding. But Magnusson says reaching beyond a city’s current community of avid cyclists requires more than bikes and an app.

Magnusson: “If you want to get everyone else biking, you really have to have a safe space for them. So whether it’s docked or dockless, I think the big factor there is designating street space.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

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Sarah Kennedy

Sarah Kennedy is an editor and content producer with ChavoBart Digital Media, a production firm with a focus on scientific and environmental media. Her work on Climate Connections includes developing story...