- Dallas has unveiled its newly approved set of regulations governing dockless bike-share, according to the Dallas Observer and others. Dockless bike-share operators now must obtain a permit for $808, with permit renewals costing $404. Operators also have to pay a per bike fee; the fee is tiered based on the number of bikes in operation, and costs $21 per bike for an operator who has more than 500 bikes on the street.
- To prevent clutter, the ordinance states exactly where bikes may and may not be parked. Companies must respond to complaints called in to the city's 311 hotline about tipped bikes or those blocking sidewalks within two hours during the day, or within 12 hours if the report was filed overnight. Inoperable or damaged bikes must be removed from service within 24 hours.
- Dockless operators must provide quarterly data reports to the city with information such as the number of rides per vehicle per day and an individual bike trip's origin, destination, total time and time of day.
Dallas became something of a poster child for the fight between municipalities and dockless bike-share operators when the city manager sent warning letters to the five businesses that had vehicles in the city, and he took to Twitter telling the companies to clean up their mess. Shortly after the bikes appeared on the streets, the city reportedly began receiving scores of complaints — about 3,200 since last September — about inappropriately parked bikes cluttering sidewalks and other public rights of way, in addition to being strewn in waterways or left in remote areas to essentially become litter.
The rocky launch is proof that extensive educational campaigns are important when introducing a new innovation to an area. Dallas residents apparently had been using the dockless bikes without having first properly learned the rules of the road, so to speak, about how to be a good consumer and park the vehicles.
The situation also shows both cities and dockless operators should exhaustively research a city's conditions to cater a new program or service to the area. Dockless operators noted the city didn't have a cap for how many bikes could be unleashed in the city when they first arrived, which led to over saturation. However, city leaders don't necessarily have the best knowledge of how a new innovation like dockless vehicles will affect the region, and companies need to understand their own products and business models. The two entities must work together from the start to share knowledge and devise acceptable operating plans.
The new ordinance does not just cover dockless bike-share; they also govern dockless scooters, which recently arrived in Dallas and were granted a six-month pilot program. That is only a temporary measure while leaders work on additional rules for scooter operation.
Notably, the regulations state that dockless vehicles may not be ridden on the sidewalk anywhere except the city's central business district. That language seems directed at dockless scooter riders, considering that most cyclists tend to ride bikes in the street. The ordinance also lays out enforcement measures for operators who do not comply with the rules, including moving errant bikes from the public right-of-way. Measures range from bike confiscation to fines up to $500 to permit revocation.
The regulations come nearly a year after dockless bikes arrived in Dallas, so there will likely be a learning curve for operators and consumers to learn about and comply with the rules. But because the ordinance also applies to scooters — even using the generic term "dockless vehicles" throughout most of the document — there's a good chance the six-month scooter pilot will run far more smoothly than the bike launch, considering the rules were in place before the scooters hit the streets.