Philly could finally be getting a dockless bike sharing program - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 20, 2019 4:38 pm

Philly could finally be getting a dockless bike sharing program

In August, applications will open up for a pilot program that will introduce the station-free bikes. Two slots are available for bike sharing companies.

The Message Agency team's bikes.

(Photo courtesy of Message Agency).

Cities around the country and the world have embraced dockless transportation in the last few years, and Philadelphia may finally be jumping on board — with bikes.

Philly’s had a bike share since 2015, when Indego placed docking stations around the city and offered pay-as-you-go or monthly pass options for cyclists. But a dockless system — in which companies offer bikes that can be unlocked via app and don’t have to be left at a station — has been slower to develop.

City Council approved a measure allowing dockless transportation options last June, and now there’s an official sign the rollout is moving forward.

Last week, a regulation was filed with the Philadelphia Streets Department last week, proposing a pilot program for the free-floating bike share.

The department will accept applications for dockless bicycle sharing businesses (DBSB) throughout the month of August and plans to give out licenses to two companies. Each company will be limited to distributing 1,200 bikes, the regulation said.

The DBSB companies would also be responsible for having customer service available to users and a staffed operations center that can respond to the Streets Department or emergencies.

Chosen companies must also develop a plan to address barriers to access for low-income residents who might not have bank accounts or a cell phone, the city said.

Companies that want to apply will pay a $2,580 application fee and a license fee of $76,000 will be required to manage and run the program.

Businesses who are chosen will also be required to share their data with the city, a provision that came from previous missteps with Uber and Lyft, Chris Puchalsky, the director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability told PlanPhilly. 

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“We want an operator who’s going to be very responsible and respectful of Philadelphians,” said Puchalsky said. “Both those who are going to be using the service and those who aren’t going to be using the service.”

Applications close at the end of August. A date for launch of the pilot has yet to be announced.

Similar test runs have been the precursor for wider programs in other Mid-Atlantic cities like Baltimore and D.C. Those programs have also included e-scooters, which remain illegal in Pennsylvania.

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