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 Spin.pm, 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!