Angie Schmitt at Streetsblog punctures the balloon:
While there’s been no shortage of stories about the untidiness of dockless bike-share, information about how useful the new systems are has been hard to come by.
A new report from the National Association of City Transportation Officials sheds some light on the situation, and so far the performance of the dockless bike-share systems is underwhelming.
1. Dockless bike-share is growing fast, but it’s not getting much use.
Dockless bike-share companies added 44,000 bikes to American streets in 2017, according to NACTO, compared to 14,000 bikes for station-based systems. …
But looking at ridership paints a different picture. Dockless bike-share carried just 4 percent of all bike-share trips in 2017, according to NACTO’s estimates, despite accounting for 44 percent of all shared bikes. …
One qualification: Dockless bike-share companies still don’t make much trip data available. …
It’s possible to provide dockless systems that also have well-built equipment, reliable maintenance, and operations that don’t skimp on rebalancing — and maybe systems like that will get more use. We just haven’t seen one yet, at least not at scale.
2. Large station-based bike-share systems account for an overwhelming majority of trips
Overall bike-share ridership grew 25 percent last year, but only a few cities have bike-share networks that are genuinely useful for transportation. …
3. Low ridership could spell bigger problems for dockless bike-share
… Even in China, where dockless bike-share systems do account for a large number of trips, the industry is undergoing convulsions, with high-profile bankruptcies provoking questions about the long-term sustainability of the business model.
Docked bikes are by necessity of the cost of the infrastructure going to be limited to the highest traffic locations. And given the mentioned rapid growth in dockless over 2017, wouldn’t a lot more of the bikes have only been available part of the year?