I guess Southern cities can get more bike friendly after all.
When I wrote about Atlanta mandating new construction be "electric vehicle ready," I argued that while bike- and pedestrian-friendly cities are optimal, that revolution feels a long way off in many cities in the South.
No sooner had I written that, however, than I heard that my own town—Durham, North Carolina—is launching not one, but two, different dock-less bike share programs starting this Monday. According to the press release from the city, the rollout will initially see 300 bikes deployed, with more to come soon. The bikes, operated privately by SPIN and LimeBike, have a built-in lock and GPS, and can be accessed via a smartphone app, meaning they can be left anywhere in the city without the need for a traditional "dock" or bike-share stand. Access cards for riders without smartphones or a credit card will also be available from city hall and from the transportation center at the main bus depot. The cost is said to be around $1 per half hour.
It all sounds pretty neat, and offers a nimble, low cost way for cities to get in on the bike share trend. Here's how the city's press release explained the rationale:
"According to Poole, one of the main benefits of dockless bike share is that it operates with no investment from the City. After numerous bike share companies expressed an interest in operating in Durham, the City’s Transportation Department recommended developing a permit process for dockless bike share operation. The City Council approved an ordinance last month establishing a permit process and two companies – LimeBike and Spin − have now been approved."
As a Durham resident, I must say I'm delighted. While I have my own bike, I also occasionally take the free bus that runs east-west across the city, but then end up having to walk to wherever I have my meeting. These programs—if rolled out with enough capacity—should offer a convenient way to extend that journey.
I'll report back once I get a chance to use it.