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City Plans on Bringing Dockless Bike Share Program to Neighborhoods Outside Citi Bike Service Area

Dec. 18, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez

The city has announced plans to expand public bike sharing to areas not serviced by Citi Bike, like Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, and Forest Hills in Queens, by way of a “dockless” system.

The New York City Department of Transportation released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) on Dec. 15, calling for interested parties to contribute ideas on how to bring a bicycle system that eliminates the need for docking stations, like the ones used by Citi Bike, through the outer-boroughs.

A dockless network of bikes uses technology that stores locking and operating components on the bicycle itself, or via cloud technology accessed through mobile phones, and allows riders to pick up and park a bike from any point within the operating area, without needing to find a designated docking station.

The DOT said dockless bike share has the potential to “bring meaningful and affordable transportation services to wide areas of the City”, and is the next step in seeing the expansion of bike sharing beyond what’s been provided by Citi Bike.

“Citi Bike has been a unparalleled success story in providing New Yorkers affordable, safe and green transportation,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement. “But as we are learning from around the U.S. and the world, the next generation of bike share in New York City may not even require that the bikes themselves be parked in docks.”

The RFEI includes a list of requirements for dockless bike vendors interested in bringing their program to the city, which includes pricing, methods for fixing faulty bicycles, and contingency plans for when too many bikes are in one area.

The DOT would set the boundaries the bike share system could operate in.

Interested parties have until March 15, 2018 to submit responses, with pilot programs expected to begin in the summer of fall of 2018.

The city said it will continue to support Citi Bike, prioritizing new systems that enhance existing service.

Dockless bike share programs have started to emerge across several cities worldwide, with Washington, D.C. currently operating several dockless systems.

Most of Manhattan is saturated with Citi Bike service, save for neighborhoods north of Harlem. All boroughs, except for Staten Island and the Bronx, have seen Citi Bike arrive to areas near the East River, with neighborhoods farther east in Queens and Brooklyn lacking in the bike share service.

Area of operation for Citi Bike and dockless bike share programs (DOT)

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3 Comments

Hannah Phiffer

It’s the same with docked bikes. Dockless bikes have GPS trackers that tell users and bikeshare company about their location. Bikeshare company will use trucks to rebalance the bikes. I have been to China’s Hangzhou city, and the dockless bike share there is extremely useful — I would say better user experience than citibike.




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Daniel S

Love the idea of democratizing NYC bike share options. CitiBike shouldn’t get an exclusive partnership with the city. I have a question to those who know other cities’ experience with dockless. What happens when no one rides to certain areas (dead zones) and a big heap of d0ckless bikes end up in a hot spot? Do companies typically have a way of dealing with this? I know this system can be found in China but with mixed results.




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Steve B

I agree with you. They should not have an exclusive partnership, but should pay rent for any space they use on the streets. Maybe then areas like Forest Hills and Coney Island would have them by now. I wonder if the companies gave people incentives or even money for making repositioning trips if it would become like people searching for cans and bottles in the 80s when the deposits were worth a lot more than they are now.




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