Dockless bikeshare

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Dockless Bikeshare

New bikeshare systems have debuted that are privately operated and do not require docking infrastructure. Dockless bikes are becoming more prevalent with systems debuting in places like Washington, D.C.. Seattle, and Dallas. While dockless bike distribution has spread rapidly, adoption rates have been low. Dockless models now account for 44% of bikeshare bikes in the U.S., but in 2017 96% of all bikeshare trips nationally were taken on station-based bikes. [1] After removing the four best performing station-based systems (Boston, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.) from the analysis, dockless bikes accounted for 16% of rides, which signals that despite their currently low share of rides, dockless systems are poised for wider adoption.[2]

Major companies

While station-based systems are operated by a small amount of companies, dockless bikesharing has witnessed a variety of new companies competing to offer the service. Companies like Ofo and Mobike Mobike are based in China and despite being less than five years old, have deployed millions of bicycles in cities around the world. U.S.-based companies like Lime and Spin have entered the market. The proliferation of bike sharing startups has resulted in cities having a variety of dockless bikes available on their streets.


Washington, D.C. has five dockless companies operating within city limits. A 2018 Virginia Tech study conducted on behalf of the Washington, D.C. Department of Transportation investigated whether patrons of the station-based system, Capital Bikeshare, are also using the new dockless options, or if the dockless companies attract different riders. [3] The researchers surveyed only 49 bikeshare users and disclose the low number as a limitation of their analysis. In addition to surveying, the researchers also conducted screen line counts. They found that, on average, dockless bike riders in Washington, D.C. are more racially diverse than Capital Bikeshare users. Additionally, data from the intercept survey suggested dockless riders have a lower household income than Capital Bikeshare users.