- The city of Coronado, CA says it will begin scrapping dockless bicycles that have been impounded for more than 90 days, escalating a long-simmering dispute.
- Coronado started impounding the bikes in the spring, and had collected 106 bikes as of June 26, Clifford Maurer, the city’s director of public services and engineering, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. The city has not issued permits to the dockless bike companies that operate in San Diego County.
- City officials had considered donating or selling the bikes at auction, but cannot because of the self-locking mechanism and because they are painted as commercial property.
Another day, another city facing off with dockless companies. The bikes — operated by Mobike, Lime and ofo — are popular around San Diego County, but have been labeled a public nuisance by Coronado. It’s thought that people ride them from nearby beach towns and leave them in the city. According to city officials, Mobike and ofo have largely been paying a $45 fine and $1-per-day storage fee to retrieve any impounded bikes, but Lime has not, and most of the bikes set to be recycled belong to them.
In response, Zack Bartlett, Lime’s general manager of San Diego, said in a statement the company “would like to work with the city to explore a more productive approach.” “Rather than destroying perfectly good bicycles, we can work towards finding real solutions that benefit both residents and riders,” Bartlett added.
Scrapping the bikes may be extreme, but the city says the branding and possibility that companies could simply buy the bikes back at a public auction makes it the best option. It’s certainly an escalation, but not out of keeping with how some cities have been dealing with the clutter problem created by dockless bikes. Milwaukee last month ordered Bird scooters to be removed just a day after the company launched in the city, while cities like Denver took dockless vehicles off the streets.
Still, Lime’s sentiment about working with the city may be the model going forward. Dallas recently passed regulations for dockless bikes, charging companies for an $808 permit and a per-bike fee, defusing months of tension that included a warning from the city manager. Atlanta likewise struck a deal with European scooter company Muving to organize a smoother rollout even while the city drafts new regulations. The Coronado standoff shows how far the showdown could go — many cities would likely prefer it never gets that far and that companies would feel free to operate within city rules.