Dockless bike sharing in Dallas

The sidewalks of Dallas are, just as readers warned me, littered with dockless shared bicycles. Ofo, a Chinese company, seems to be the market leader. There are at least four competitors, I think. Each system offers bikes in just one size. If you’re 5′ tall you’ll find that nearly all of the bikes fit well. Over 5′ tall and I would suggest, the only company whose seats can go up high enough to accommodate a 6′ tall rider. (If you’re a knee surgeon, Dallas will be an awesome market in a year or two; riding with the seat too low is a reliable way to burn up one’s knees.)

All rely on smartphone apps and GPS. “They’re popular with the local homeless,” said one local resident. “Fortunately, all of them seem to have iPhones.”

Given the difficulty of convincing consumers to download and subscribe to multiple apps and the economies of scale from having bikes be dense on the ground, a market shake-out seems likely. Unless Dallas is taken over by hobbits, I hope that Spin is one of the survivors!

If this becomes popular, cities are going to need to build a lot more bike racks!


  • “Asian bike-sharing companies find road is tougher in Europe” (Financial Times, February 28, 2018): “After a spate of thefts and vandalism decimated its fleet of bicycles, Hong Kong-based start-up GoBee said last week it would pull out of French cities just days after quitting Italy.” Apparently today’s Europeans are not as law-abiding and/or trustworthy as today’s Asians!

6 thoughts on “Dockless bike sharing in Dallas

  1. Around here Lime Bike is the dock less bike leader. But the local bike rental places are really POed at this intrusion into their business. They are telling the city council that the bikes are not being managed adequately. I guess the riders are leaving the bikes at local stores and restaurants on their walkways and driveways. Basically the bikes are in the way. It will get real interesting this winter if they leave some the bikes in town and the snow blower/plow guys run over some of them. And as you point out there are limited adjustments for different riders.

  2. I’ve seen these “smart bikes” showing up in the USA and was aware of the stupid craze in China. My only question has been whether the ones in the USA were just plucked from piles of scrap in China and brought here. If so I guess that’s a shrewd business experiment. Otherwise it’s obviously stupid. I don’t even get the government run docked bike share programs. The bikes are total crap and only useful for a walkable 1.5 mile commute. Anyone who uses those docked bikes regularly for a month or two and enjoys it will go out and buy a bicycle that actually fits and isn’t complete garbage. I just don’t get it.

    *The* primary issue for urban bicycle transit in America is currently inept law enforcement. A small number of jerks are running around stealing large numbers of bikes in cities. Fund more task forces and throw some of these assholes in prison for two years and the problem goes away. People can lock up their bikes with a cheap cable lock anywhere they want to go. Many more people will use bikes.

  3. Went over to a friend’s place for dinner last night.

    He had one of these bikes right at his front door.

    I asked what it was doing there? He said his 12 year old rode it home. Ok… he has a smart phone, but you let him charge stuff? Oh no he says, the first ride is free.

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