Two of the dockless bikeshare companies that launched in D.C. last year are leaving before the end of the pilot program for the services offering rentable bikes that can be unlocked via app, and don’t need to be returned to a station.
According to the Washington Post, China-based startup Ofo was the first to exit, with bikes being collected and employees set to be laid off this week. The company said it’s part of a move to scale back U.S. operations overall – though it is remaining in cities such as San Diego and Seattle – as well as Australia, Germany and Israel. The company’s yellow bikes entered D.C. in October.
“As we continue to bring bikeshare to communities across the globe, Ofo has begun to reevaluate markets that present obstacles to new, green transit solutions, and prioritize growth in viable markets that support alternative transportation and allow us to continue to serve,” a statement issued by the company said.
With the departure of Mobike, another Chinese company that deployed in D.C. last fall, there are signs of tension over the District’s regulatory approach. According to NBC4, Mobike Vice President for International Expansion Chris Martin said a cap on 400 bikes is limiting growth, adding that putting more bikes on the streets has led to more user adoption in other cities.
Three of the initial bikeshare companies remain in the District, as well as scooter sharing services which were added to the pilot earlier this year.
The exits come ahead of the District’s deadline to end the pilot for the dockless bikeshare program, which was designed to collect data and feedback from the community to “help DDOT determine the most effective approach for introducing this technology to the District while ensuring public safety,” according to DDOT. The test was extended by four months in April after officials got pushback on proposed regulations, though a cap on the number of bikes was not cited at the time. As of the last update, the pilot is set to end in August.
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