Next, citizens began to see brightly colored LimeBikes, Ofos, etc. ad nauseam populating boardwalks, streets and thoroughfares throughout the city. Then, there was the propagation of electronic scooters, dispensed by both Bird and LimeBike, causing a myriad of safety concerns and evaluation of the City’s current regulation.
While the eco-conscious efforts of these vendors, as well as their providing an alternative to the City’s public transportation, the benefits are often overshadowed by NIMBY concerns.
At the University of California San Diego, however, Spin, an app-based, dockless bike share program as well, has recently lauded their success on campus. The pilot program, in operation since December 2017, has shown more than 91,000 rides for more than 15,600 miles, which saved roughly 17,100 pounds of CO2.
Obviously, UC San Diego’s vast campus provides a much different climate, with variable comparable traffic concerns to those of coastal communities.
“For navigation inside a university, there’s nothing better than riding a bike or walking,” said Josh Kavanagh, director of transportation at UC San Diego. “Ultimately, we want to support pedestrian and- bike-friendly walkways to allow this mode of transportation to flourish.”
A majority of UC San Diego students arrive at campus via buses and other public transportation, so having centralized Spin “high use” locations close to bus stops is crucial. Not only does this make getting to class easier for students and faculty, but also decongests public transport bus racks.
To what does Kavanagh attribute to the success of Spin on UC San Diego’s campus?
“The quality of the partner we’ve found in Spin,” Kavanagh said. “Whereas other communities have had trouble with congestion and safety, because we’ve partnered with one vendor, we don’t see multiple vendors over-providing bicycles.”
Although Spin was launched solely on UC San Diego’s campus, it is not prohibited for non-students/faculty to download the app and use bikes in the area. Kavanagh says that at least 25 percent of users during their pilot program were linked to non-UC email accounts.
Perhaps a conscious neighbor model that other dock-less transport vendors have ignored, or simply don’t have the means or manpower to oversee, this summer, Spin will be running a trial program to deal with potential congestion.
While some students and faculty are still attending classes and otherwise continuing their studies on a quiet campus, Spin and UC are trying out a model to which riders are rewarded for moving bikes from “low-use areas” to “high-use” ones. Incentives to doing so could result in a free or discounted ride or credits to the user’s account.
“Also, during this exploratory trial, the program will be offering unlimited rides during the summer,” said Kavanagh. “This will ensure that the fleet is well-used, and will also allow us to gain a better idea of rates, which will allow for better use during the academic year. We’re fortunate to have Spin doing such a great job of not only regulating the bikes but incentivizing users as well.”
Could this model work, on a larger scale, in coastal communities? This issue of several vendors providing dockless transport seems like a Darwinist concept.
Maybe if the City looked into a solo vendor in each field, things could be easier to regulate?