Matthew Flamm By Matthew Flamm
Dockless bicycle sharing is coming to New York, or at least those parts of New York not already serviced by Citi Bike. But which operators will survive the city’s Shark Tank competition?
A total of 12, ranging from little-known regional operators to global players in the surging dockless-bike sector, have submitted proposals, the Department of Transportation announced Tuesday. They are hoping to gain access to 6.2 million people, which is how one entrant quantified the regions outside Citi Bike’s footprint.
Those areas include all of Staten Island and the Bronx, northern Manhattan and large portions of Brooklyn and Queens. The station-based Citi Bike model, which takes up parking space, is far more time-consuming and expensive to install than a dockless system, which lets users park bikes pretty much anywhere. That was among the reasons the city sought new operators despite risks that going dockless would clutter sidewalks with discarded bikes.
The rollout of dockless bike-share is being eyed by the real estate community, which has portrayed Citi Bike as an amenity in neighborhoods where it operates. Bike-share could increase the appeal of properties in transit deserts because it is faster than bus service and provides a link to subway stations beyond walking distance.
It is unknown how many bike companies will be chosen for the dockless pilot or how the city will choose them. A staffer at one of the companies said the Department of Transportation will be testing the bikes and their mobile apps, in addition to interviewing the operators.
Citi Bike parent company Motivate will be among the contenders. Others include Chinese giants Ofo and Mobike, West Coast–based LimeBike and Spin, and several operators below the national radar, including MetroBike, Pace, LennyBike and QuimoCycle.
Brooklyn-based Jump, which has become a leading provider of pedal-assist electric bicycles, is also in the running, alongside Riide, another e-bike operator.
“We are thrilled that so many of the industry leaders in bike share from around the world want to try their wheels on New York City’s streets,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “Citi Bike has been such an incredible success story in getting New Yorkers on bicycles—transportation that is affordable, safe, sustainable and fun. The robust response of dockless bike companies to this pilot is great news, which could allow us to move beyond the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods that Citi Bike now covers so well.”
The pilot project is expected to begin this year and the participants are to be chosen this summer.