Dockless bikes, accessible by a smart-phone app, have been infiltrating San Diego neighborhoods, including the Jewel. However, all four existing dockless companies — Bird, Mobike, Limebike and Ofo — say they haven’t actually launched their business models yet in La Jolla.
The sudden appearance and proliferation of dockless, however, has led to safety fears and calls from some to halt their spread until they’re properly regulated.
LJPB board member Bill Robbins offered a suggestion on how best to deal with the vexing issue.
“The easiest thing to do would be to have La Jolla-branded bike racks, and ask the city to install them on a consistent basis throughout La Jolla,” he said.
Robbins has been meeting with other La Jolla civic reps to develop a joint resolution on dockless bikes, which might lead to adopting standardized regulations governing their safe use.
“None of us actually knows the answer yet,” pointed out Robbins. “We want to get on the same page working for consistent regulations and a cost-effective approach.”
Robbins noted it seems strange that the four dockless companies in town “all claim to be competitive, yet they all showed up in town all at once.”
Noting he is not “anti-bike,” Robbins reiterated that dockless companies should be required to be properly licensed, pay their own way and their fair share of taxes, and that they shouldn’t be publicly subsidized.
“I’ve asked the dockless companies questions about [required] taxes, and they didn’t know the answers,” Robbins said.
“The trick is to get together a list of best practices, and we’re late in the game,” said LJPB president Ann Dynes.
“Shouldn’t the City be collecting taxes on the use of them?,” asked LJPB board member Judy Halter. “The City should have the opportunity to generate revenues.”
“If they’re for sale it would be taxed, but not for rentals,” answered Robbins.
Colleague John Shannon said there is a great deal of venture capital money behind the launching of dockless bikes in San Diego.
“Birds cost $400 apiece and, with their business model, they make three times that per year per scooter,” he said. “These are extremely lucrative.”
Dynes made a resolution stating that, “We want to see proper regulation of these forms of personal transportation.”
“We should suggest our concerns about sidewalk safety and clutter,” noted board member Mary Ellen Morgan. “Now we are being asked to react to this [bad] behavior — which really isn’t fair.”
“That would certainly be a part of it,” agreed Dynes adding, “We’re not here to develop these [regulatory] rules.”
Dynes said she would send the group resolution calling for tighter regulation of dockless bikes to Councilmember Barbara Bay and Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office.