Getting a Handle on Dockless Bikes

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Last year, five dockless bike-share companies, each with its own colorful fleet of bikes, rolled out their products onto the streets of Washington, D.C. Since last September, the District Department of Transportation has been researching and reviewing the use of the bikes to determine if they have a future in our city.

Four Ward 2 advisory neighborhood commissions hosted a December town hall with representatives from DDOT, who presented the latest findings from the first three months of the demonstration period. Avid and casual bikers, as well as non-bikers, asked an array of questions. The one thing in common among the questions from the audience was that there were genuine concerns about having these bikes strewn about without any controls.

I’ve seen this on a daily basis when I go running and travel throughout the ward. Whether it’s at the waterfront, at Memorial Bridge, at parks or on sidewalks, it’s obvious to me that these bikes are unsightly and can be dangerous.

Month after month, my office continues to receive messages from constituents about the same concerns raised at the town hall. Needless to say, many people around Ward 2 have mixed feelings about the latest way to travel in the District — especially since many of the bikes end up in our neighborhoods.

Overall, I believe that bike-sharing is an important option for residents across the District to have, for commuting and for getting around. We should be open-minded when new methods of travel are introduced, but also take note of how these methods can be controlled and improved for most peoples’ needs.

Pedestrians and disabled individuals need to have open walkways without dockless bikes obstructing their path. I want Washington to continue to be a vibrant city with walkable, livable and safe neighborhoods.

The demonstration period ends in April and the community is being asked to identify any misuse. Refrain from calling the police about dockless bikes and those who ride them. I know it’s frustrating for many residents when bikes are blocking driveways and sidewalks. Instead, you should call 311 (or the number on the bike) if you see a bike improperly parked or if a bike might cause a dangerous situation.

Having a dialogue about a substantial change in the way we travel is very important. I want to thank the organizers of the town hall and everyone who participated, spoke up and listened. I encourage residents to contact DDOT during the dockless bike-share demonstration period. Send your thoughts and concerns to dockless.bikeshare@dc.gov.

Jack Evans is the District Council Member for Ward 2, representing Georgetown and other neighborhoods since 1991.

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