CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte B-Cycle’s Executive Director Dianna Ward left her imprint on a news story by Carolina Public Press about bike-share programs across the state.
Her company provides docked bikes throughout Center City and neighboring locations. Users can become a member in one of three ways: a 24-hour pass for $8; an option for $9.99 which entitles one to unlimited 120-minutes monthly; and an annual membership for $100. With each, riders are asked to dock their bike every two hours to avoid a $4 usage fee.
Ward, an LGBTQ community member, was the first to offer the ever-increasing popular bike-share program to the Queen City. Her non-profit was launched in 2012 (see “Pop a wheelie with these summer cycling excursions” at goqnotes.com/35264 to gain some history about the organization and experience qnotes staff writer Matt Comer’s ride with Ward back in 2015, in addition to reading the Our People Q&A at goqnotes.com/35265 to learn more about Ward). It is managed by Center City Partners. Charlotte B-Cycle is part of the BCycle nationwide network.
Since the introduction of bike-sharing in Charlotte, four more companies have ventured into the scene. Throughout the city, one can see yellow (ofo), green (LimeBike), red (Mobike) and orange (Spin) dockless, GPS-equipped bikes dotting the landscape. Riders simply pull up an app on their phone, pay for time and unlock the bike and head off for errands, a relaxed adventure or any one of a number of other reasons to enjoy the day while getting fit. Unlike B-Cycle which requires that bikes be returned to a rack, bikes can be left either upright using a kickstand or simply left on the ground.
For now, other areas around the state that have bike-share programs are Durham and Winston-Salem, as well as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Raleigh is entering the fray and Asheville is also considering adding the program and is collecting data in a feasibility study that should be completed by the end of the year.
The Charlotte Observer previously reported that complaints against the dockless companies included ones on blocked sidewalks and bikes being left on private property. Pilot program bikes have incurred vandalism and others have received damages.
“In Charlotte, as with most of our cities, we work in partnership with the city,” said Laura Andrews, communications manager for BCycle.
Stray bikes have caused some problems. In Durham this spring, on a particularly windy day, free-standing bikes available to share were found piled up throughout downtown. According to news reports, more than 1,500 dockless bikes are available in Durham.
Jordan Levine, communications manager for ofo, which operates in both Charlotte and Durham, said bike providers work to mitigate these problems before they become a public nuisance.
“We have a local operations team on the ground and software that tracks the bike,” Levine said.
“We can tell the location of a bike at any time. Our operations managers on the back end are getting all of this information locally. We can rebalance our bikes to make sure they’re in the proper areas. If they’re in the right of way, we can move them.”
A one-year pilot program using the four companies is being tested and evaluated by the Charlotte Department of Transportation for its viability. Each permitted operator is limited to a fleet of up to 500 bikes within the city limits. They are also responsible for equipment safety, maintenance, operations, parking and data sharing as outlined by the city’s permit requirements. The conclusion of the pilot year ends in October when city staff will gather information in its evaluation process to determine what its next steps will be.
info: carolinapublicpress.org. charlottenc.gov.
charlotteobserver.com. bcycle.com. spinclt.com.
ofobike.com. limebike.com. mobike.com.