Three hundred dockless bikes will be deployed in Durham beginning next week as part of a new public bike share system.
According to a press release from the city, LimeBike and Spin will deploy the bikes on Monday, “with additional operators and bikes to soon follow.” Company representatives and city staff will introduce the program Monday at eleven a.m. in CCB Plaza.
The bikes are dockless, meaning they can be dropped off and picked up anywhere. Users can find, rent and unlock the bikes with a smartphone app. Access cards are expected to be rolled out for purchase at City Hall and Durham Station for users without a smartphone or credit card.
“The bikes work best for short trips, such as going to lunch, the bus stop, or getting someplace faster than walking,” the city release says. “The bikes have a GPS and built-in lock, so residents can ride them anywhere in the city.”
Bryan Poole, a transportation planner for the city, says most customers would pay $1 for thirty minutes of use. The companies will offer discounted rides for students at half price, but theoretically they can change these prices.
Theft has plagued bike share programs in other cities, including New York, Paris, D.C. and Philadelphia. In Raleigh and Seattle, shared bikes are ending up in odd places.
Poole said the bike share companies will be able to track bikes that are not re-locked at the end of a ride through GPS. That was the case in Baltimore, which has temporarily halted its program to improve security. Many stolen bikes have been found but some were severely damaged. (Worth noting there is no city investment in Durham’s bike share programs).
Bikes will be redistributed daily in accordance with demand and also to move bikes that have been parked in driveways, sidewalks, crosswalks, parking spaces, bus stops or loading zones.
Under a newly passed bike share ordinance and permitting process, operators are prohibited from clustering bikes in certain areas of the city and must deploy bikes in low-income census tracts. According to the city permit, at least 20 percent of a company’s bikes (on a daily average) must be located in census tracts 9, 10.01, 10.02, 11, 13.01, 13.03, 14 and/or 23.
There is currently no cap on how many bike share companies can operate in Durham, but companies are limited to a fleet of three hundred bikes in their first month of operation and no more than two-hundred additional bikes each month of the one-year permit. Poole said he expects a third company to deploy bikes sometime next month.
“We will be continually evaluating the individual bike share operators, and bike share in general,” he told the INDY. “If this system is wildly successful that is great. If not, we can learn from the issues that arise and explore other options. And we will have data from the dockless bike share companies to help us learn about origin/destination demand, as well as the most popular routes.”