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Bicycle Coalition

As reported in PlanPhilly last week, the City of Philadelphia released its RFP for dockless bike sharing, proposing regulations and licenses for private companies that want to participate in Philadelphia’s micro mobility future.

As noted by PlanPhilly,

Barring any requested public hearings, the pilot could begin as soon as the fall, said Chris Puchalsky, director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability. The office will oversee the program along with the Streets Department.

The City will accept applications from private dockless bike sharing companies between August 1 and August 31.

Location

The city notes that the dockless bikes will be positioned in a yet-undetermined section of the city and each company will be able to license 1200 total bicycles.

While we don’t have the data from Indego, a casual look at the city has provided an option, in the RFP, for e-assist bicycles.

Locking

Additionally, and as the Bicycle Coalition recommended in January 2018, the dockless bikes will be required to have a built-on locking system and be required to be locked to something when a trip is over.

We recommended this because of the potential for dockless bikes to be left in the public right of way. While this is rare in cities with dockless bicycle and scooter sharing, it only takes a single bicycle left blocking a handicapped-accessibility ramp to ruin someone’s day.

What’s Next?

Because this is a pilot, the city has the ability to scale and learn incrementally from it—and change things along the way. The next step is a public comment period, at the end of which the city will be able to make changes, but is not required to do so.

Then, the city will take applications between August 1 and August 31; companies will have to provide evidence they can run a program successfully, agree to the data sharing standard the city is setting up, and the as-yet-undetermined servicing area.

It’s possible the bikes could be up and running by the fall.

As we saw in Camden, it’s important the city doesn’t just let any vendor come into the city and do as they will. Ofo’s operation in Camden never got off the ground very well, only 200 bikes were on the street, and as we found in our attempts to better understand that program, only a small percentage of those 200 bikes were ever on the street. The company pulled out of Camden, and the United States entirely, after just a few months of operations across the Delaware River.

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy manager at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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