BG Policy Note | The Future of Dockless Bike Share in Austin

A recent Dallas work trip found us in the middle of a Bikeshare war.

Scattered around the city's core, at least three firms, Spin, VBikes, and LimeBike are battling for market share.  Unlike Austin's B-Cycle program, these bikes are dockless and unlockable through an app (though BCycle is rolling out its own version, Dash).  

For the time being, the City of Dallas appears to be letting the war play out. There are no conversations of potential pilots, resolutions or ordinances discussions around bikesharing. And it is the only major Texas city that does not operate a BCycle program (the closest one being in Ft. Worth).

From a policy standpoint, the major hurdle sfor the city of Austin are access and use of public right-of-ways (sidewalks). Bike share firms need a commercial business permit (and requisite insurance and safety guarantees). Spin and and bike share firm Ofo found this out the hard way when they attempted a launch at last year's SXSW.  

While we have not heard any news around bikeshare in Austin since that time, at least one firm has registered lobbyist with the city. And it has highly likely some type of pilot or all out regulatory scheme is being discussed with Austin Transportation Department (ATD) staff.

Considering that in August the Austin City Council approved, with ATD support, a pilot to allow autonomous delivery robots to operate, it should not be a stretch that something relatively less novel is not coming down the pipe in the near-term. Recently Washington D.C. permitted three bikeshare firms to operate up to 400 bikes respectively (the city operates its own bikeshare program, as well).

We'll be watching.

//The Bingham Group 

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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