Village researching dockless bikes

Trustees take wait-and-see approach after cutting Divvy

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

After cutting the expensive and underused Divvy bike-sharing program in early 2018, the Oak Park Board of Trustees is looking into the less expensive option of dockless bike sharing in the village.

Cameron Davis, the newly hired assistant director of the village's Development Customer Services Department, said he is researching what other municipalities are doing with dockless bike companies.

Dockless bicycles are different than Divvy bikes in that they do not have to be returned to a docking station, but rather can be left or locked up at any location. Some bike-sharing companies require dockless bikes to be returned to a predetermined area.

Dockless bikes, referred to by some as DoBi bikes, have had problems in some cities like Dallas, where the bikes have become an unsightly mess, because of users leaving them piled up in public spaces.

Davis said users can find DoBi bikes using a smartphone app and GPS tracking equipment on the bikes.

About five DoBi companies are interested in setting up shop in Oak Park, and Davis said he prefers eventually letting at least two operate in the village to encourage competition.

"Competition always elevates services," he said.

The village also is working to develop a set of regulatory guidelines for DoBi bikes over the next few months to avoid some of the problems experienced in other cities.

Davis is planning to have a regulatory framework in place in late 2018 and a rollout of DoBi bikes in the spring of 2019.

Creating a relationship with DoBi companies is not likely to cost the village anything, unlike the costly Divvy program, which cost the village $26,665 a month at the time trustees pulled the plug on the program in January.

Trustee Bob Tucker said he usually prefers Oak Park to be ahead of the curve with programs like dockless bike sharing, but said he wants to learn from other communities' mistakes before funding another bike-sharing program.

Trustee Dan Moroney suggested contacting officials in Forest Park and River Forest to potentially coordinate on a larger bike-sharing program. Trustee Deno Andrews similarly suggested coordinating with the Cook County Forest Preserve District, which recently launched its own DoBi system with dockless bike company HOPR and is bringing about 500 bikes to the forest preserve trail system.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Betty Goeb  

Posted: July 19th, 2018 1:03 PM

One of the older articles mentioned that a majority of Oak Park residents own bicycles right? If this is true, why are we not first improving biking conditions, i.e safer bike lanes, marked bike lanes etc?

Robert Milstein from Oak Park  

Posted: July 18th, 2018 9:19 PM

To clarify...An expensive and underused bike sharing program might be replaced by an inexpensive and probably (just an opinion) underused dock less system. If consumers in Oak Park did not use the first system what leads the Village to believe they will be used even if less expensive (cheap). Who used Divvy? A cheaper system where bikes can be left virtually anywhere sounds messy. If they are used more than the Divvys...they will likely be all over the Village. In addition, how financially stable are these lower cost companies? If Divvy averages $9.95 a day and Dockless is at $1-$2 per half hour (prices based on general news articles) ?"-how is this going to be sustainable?

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 18th, 2018 9:13 PM

Having a bunch of bikes randomly dumped in every alley and sidewalk around the Green Line neighborhoods sounds kind of dreamy in a nightmare sort of way, so lets pass on that idea guys. Please find some other outlet for your creativity Cameron Davis, we can be ahead of the curve on not doing stupid stuff for once.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: July 18th, 2018 7:18 PM

This is a very common program all over the world. It's far superior to having to deal with the docking stations. The one thing people in OP might not love is that the bikes are literally left anywhere. You use an app to simply unlock them and off you go and when you get to where you are going you leave it. Very simple and convenient but I am sure some won't love random bikes just being around. I don't see why the village should have to pay for a program like this. Assuming there isn't a cost to the village I certainly think a trial program would be a good idea.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: July 18th, 2018 4:18 PM

Amazing. Approximately $315,000 per year for "shared bikes." I purchased a very nice 10 speed for around $600 three years ago. Do the math, then ask yourself, what were village trustees thinking? May I suggest they stop drinking the kool aid and just switch to scotch? At least then they'll have an excuse for some of their decisions.

Tom Leeds  

Posted: July 18th, 2018 3:26 PM

Are any local communities using dockless bikes? What is the cost of dockless bikes per use, per mile, per minute? How do you use a dockless bike? Do you scan a code on the bike to "unlock" it? Do you lock the bike to something or just lean it on something when you are done?

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