Showing posts with label bikesharing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bikesharing. Show all posts

Friday, November 10, 2017

An Interview With Spin Dockless Bikeshare

Ready to ride. Photo courtesy of Spin
In September, dockless bikeshare arrived in Washington, D.C., the city that had already proved that a bikeshare station system can work in North America.  Suddenly, in addition to the red Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) bikes, there were the yellow ofo bikes, orange Spin bikes, silver and orange Mobikes, bright green and yellow LimeBikes, and red Jump! ebikes.  Gear Prudence compared the new D.C. bikeshare options to a bag of Skittles

These new bikes are so-called "smart bikes" that are unlocked using each company's apps. The different brands provide options from single-speeds and 3-speeds to ebikes. The Washington Post test rode four of the bikes and provided its first impressions here

An initial issue with dockless in D.C. was where to park them.  They were found inside Metro stations, CaBi docks, blocking sidewalks. David Alpert suggested that the best place to park them was between tree boxes between the street and sidewalk. We'll see if a parking etiquette takes hold.

The big picture question for D.C. and other cities, however, is whether dockless bikeshare is here to stay. Is this really a thing?  To investigate, we sent some questions to Spin. They were gracious enough to provide some answers. 

Spin Q&A

How did Spin get started?  

Spin is the first company to debut the stationless bikeshare concept in America. Dockless bikeshare did not exist in the U.S. prior to 2017 so it was important to build relationships and educate local government on the benefits first. For example, since there was no pre-existing regulations/permits for dockless, Spin worked with the SDOT’S Kyle Rowe (who they recently brought on to their team internally) to create a landmark permit to allow this innovation to benefit both the government and its citizens.

What has your experience been like with the DC launch? How does it compare with what you've seen in other cities where you operate?  

We knew D.C. would be a perfect fit for dockless bike-share. Washington D.C. is consistently ranked among the top biking cities in the country, has a track record of forward thinking transportation policies, and is a city that teaches all students how to ride a bike. As a city, Washington D.C. has ambitious climate change goals which are in favor of alternative modes of transportation.

The big question I keep hearing about dockless is "aren't these bikes going to be stolen or damaged?" How do you respond to this question?  

Unlike other bikeshare companies, Spin has a dedicated staff on the ground in every city in which we operate to ensure that bikes are conveniently and legally placed. Spin will dispatch a ground operations member within 1 hour between the hours of  9am-7pm to deal with bikes reported as obstructing public right of way, with after-hours requests managed the following morning. Spin users and the general public can also report bikes 24/7 via the website or the app. Thanks to our GPS tracking technology, we can anticipate and prevent bikes from piling up.

We've seen pictures on twitter of damaged bikes. How common is this and how do you deal with this?  
Most people are treating our bikes responsibly and with respect. While there are certainly instances of irresponsible use, it’s up to us to be proactive about addressing those issues, through our ground ops team and through community engagement.

The Spin bikes that I've seen are single speeds, have a front basket, and a chainguard. Is that standard for all of your bikes?  

The bikes are all mostly identical. We tweak them as needed for each landscape. For example, we have a customized bike created just for Seattle to be able to handle that particular terrain. But generally, those features are standard. 

[editor note: Subsequent to this interview, Spin replaced its single speeds with 3-speeds]

Do they all have headlights and taillights?


How do you make a bike "weather proof"?

Spin changes the bikes based on terrain so when the winter comes there will likely be an update.

Your blog mentions "rogue" bikeshare operators. What has your experience been with other dockless companies? Has the competition been fair? Is there a market for multiple dockless companies like we're seeing in DC?  
By rogue bikeshare operators, we mean competitors that enter cities without permission. Spin is dedicated to working closely with cities to establish clear procedures for permitting and a pathway to success that benefits both cities and riders. Essentially we want to complement existing systems in each city versus focus on beating out competitors.

When you come into a city like DC, how do you measure success?

We have been deliberate about rolling out and learning from community feedback, especially in terms of placement. One ways we track success is getting data on the number of rides per bike per day. So far, ridership has been incredible.

Will bikeshare spread from cities to less dense towns and suburbs, or is density the key? 
We are currently launching in cities, however, we are extending our focus to other communities and regions as well. One of our values is equitable transportation, so providing affordable bikes to all underserved communities.  We have recently launched on select college campuses located in more rural areas to bring bikeshare to new areas. Spin’s technology allows for bluetooth connection to unlock and ride the bikes when cellular storage and data are limited, so there’s definitely opportunity to bring the bikes beyond city streets.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Public Bikes at Kimpton Hotels

An elegant hotel loaner bike. Courtesy: Kimpton Hotels
Two years ago, Kimpton Hotels teamed up with Public Bikes to offer loaner bikes at their hotels.  From a marketing standpoint, this was a win-win for both Kimpton and Public.  But it also has turned out to be another victory for bikesharing.  The best way to see any city is by bicycle, and now Kimpton invites you to do that when you stay at their hotels.

As we've discussed before, Public produces colorful and classy mixtes and diamond frames that come with fenders, chainguards, and rear racks. They look nice lined up at any hotel, and they all but guarantee a memorable experience for any guest who takes them out for a spin.

Here's a youtube video promoting the bikes at the Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton hotel in Washington, D.C. And more marketing:

Borrow a bike while staying at a Kimpton Hotel. Courtesy:

Are any other hotel chains considering this? And if not, why not?

Saturday, February 1, 2014


A New York City citibike. Credit:
For me, the biggest surprise of the last 6 years was the way that bikeshare took off in the Washington, D.C. region and how it has spread to New York City and other cities in North America. Bikeshare is the ultimate in Bikes For The Rest Of Us.

Here's a must-read: David's post about his father, who had not owned a bike in 37 years, trying bikeshare. With bikeshare, you don't have to own a bike to reap the benefits of bicycling as basic transportation.

Honorable Mention: Folding bikes can be very useful in this age of multimodal transportation. Read Tom's review of his Dahon Eco-3.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Advice: ISO New Bike After Last 2 Were Stolen

From the mailbox, another request for advice.  You can advise, too, in the comments.

Hey guys,

Quick story: I'm a student at American University in DC (looking at your blog it looks like you're in the area too). Last Summer I decided it was time to ditch my old Giant Mountain Bike that I'd had since I was 14 and get something better suited for the area. I didn't, and still don't really, know a lot about bikes but I'm a patient, thorough shopper and I looked all over the place. I went to Big Wheel Bikes in Georgetown and also the bigger store in Arlington. I went to that other Georgetown bike shop I don't remember the name of. I went to Hudson Trail in Tenleytown. I went to the Bike Rack on Q st. And I went to District Hardware on L st.

Even though I didn't know much about biking, I quickly figured out what I wanted. I wanted a chainguard, backrack, and fenders. And I needed it to be able to get up Mass Ave because AU is at the top of the hill that is DC. I almost bought a Breezer for $900 but ended up buying the Raleigh Detour 3.5 for $370 from District Hardware.

Raleigh Detour 3.5. Credit: Raleigh USA

I added the backrack and fenders and the guys at DH were even able to put on a chain guard on it despite it being a 21 speed. I didn't even know that was possible. That got it up to $575 which was still a great deal. So that was a pretty great bike.

It was stolen last night. The front tire was U-Locked to a bike rack and the frame cable locked to the U-lock and the whole set up was in the basement of my apartment building which is supposed to be locked all the time. Somebody got in somehow, cut the cable, stole somebody else's front tire and left me bike-less (as a side note, I had my old Giant stolen last Summer too from the same basement but at least I already had the new bike. Fool me once...).

So I need a new bike or CaBi [Capital Bikeshare] membership. Any recommendations?

I know I still want the backrack, chainguard, and fenders. I'd like a light for nighttime but can add that myself. I'm indifferent about handlebars but I like to stand up while biking up hills sometimes (I remember one bike I tried made that really awkward).

Also, since many of my friends do not have bikes of their own, what are your thoughts on passengers on the backrack? It seems pretty common in Europe and I'd love to be able to have a pretty lady along for a ride. But the backrack I had wouldn't have been solid enough. So if you can consider that in your recommendation it would be greatly appreciated. Of course, if it is stupid and dangerous just tell me.

Thanks in advance and keep up the good work on the blog,




My condolences on the theft of your bikes. It's especially a shame that you lost your new Raleigh Detour. Unfortunately, bike thefts always seem to be more prevalent around campuses. For that reason, I usually recommend beater bikes to college students.

However, I like your idea about getting a CaBi membership even better.

CaBi is still expanding. A map of bike stations is available on the CaBi website.

I don't see how you can go wrong. You won't have to worry about storage or theft. After you dock the bike at a CaBi station, it's no longer your problem. There is a CaBi station in Ward Circle. While you're riding around on your CaBi bike, you can think about what bike you'd like to invest in for the long term, including your post-college days.

As for your last question, about having passengers ride on your back rack, that one's easy. Absolutely not. Even the sturdiest racks available, which are made for loaded touring, only have a weight capacity of 75 lbs. (regular racks can hold about 50 lbs). So unless your lady friend is an elf, you don't want to carry her around on your rack. Use your new CaBi membership to rent her a bike so she ride along with you.

Best of luck,


p.s. - if you want more advice on your options, I can post this and you may get some helpful advice in the comments.



Thanks for the response. I would like to see if there is any more advice in the comments. Also, a quick update: it looks like I have about $1000 to spend and so far the bike I like best is actually the Raleigh Detour Deluxe. Kind of funny if I end up getting a better version of what I already had.


My advice remains the same.  You can leave your suggestions for Ben in the comments.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bikesharing: try it.

My dad is 67 years old. He hasn't owned a bike for at least 37 years (that's as long as I've known him). That's him in the photo, on his first Capital Bikeshare ride, a few months back.

I got this note from him today:

On Monday I needed to mail a package. The Cleveland Park Post office had a long line, so I walked down the block to the Capital Bikeshare station at Newark St and Connecticut Ave. I took out a bike, put my package on the rack, and rode downtown, docking the bike at the 18th and M St NW station. The Post Office at 1800 M St NW is only a few hundred feet from the Bikeshare station, and there was no line. Package sent: check.
I got back on a bike and rode down to the station at 21st and Eye Streets, just around the corner from my barber. Haircut: check.
I got back on a bike and rode to the station at 25th St and Pennsylvania Ave NW. I bought lunch at Trader Joe’s, then walked one and a half blocks to my office to eat and do a little work. Check. Check.
I walked back to 25th and Pennsylvania Ave, took out another bike and rode to 19th and L Streets. I bought a few things at Staples, which is across the street from the Bikeshare station on the corner.
Back on the bike, I rode to the Dupont Circle station. I took Metrorail up to Tenleytown to complete my last errand, and I took the train home to Cleveland Park. I didn't know there was a Capital Bikeshare station in Tenleytown--I could have ridden back to Cleveland Park--I wish I'd known... [Ahem, Dad, I think you can see the station from the top of the escalator. -David] Anyway, it was a fabulous day!
Here's a map showing his errands:

View Dad's errands, Jan 3, 2011 in a larger map

I'm excited that my dad is excited about bikesharing. I think we should all be excited about bikesharing.

I know bikesharing doesn't replace personally-owned bicycles, but it can complement them.

And if you're not already a convert to The Way of The Bicycle, bikesharing might just move you down that road, so to speak--a sort of gateway drug, in a good way.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Case For Not Owning A Bike

Mayor Fenty at the Capitol Bikeshare kickoff.  Credit: DDOT via Washcycle.
This week the largest bike sharing program in the United States was launched right here in Washington, D.C.  Capital Bikeshare means that there are suddenly 1,100 new bikes in D.C. and Arlington, Va., available at 100 bike stations in D.C. and 14 in Arlington.

1,100 bikes. Credit: Capital Bikeshare

The bikes themselves are 3-speeds with a front basket, internal gear hubs, fenders, chainguards, and headlights and taillights that run whenever you are riding.  Because of the step-through design, the bikes fit just about anyone with a little seat adjustment (they have quick release seat posts).

A Bike For The Rest Of Us.  Credit: Capital Bikeshare

So, in D.C. and Arlington, you no longer need to own a bike to get around by bike (not that there's anything wrong with owning bikes).  This comes at a time when D.C. has more and better bike facilities than ever before, including several area bike co-ops, bicycle-specific traffic signals and more bike lanes - even on America's Main Street - Pennsylvania Avenue. There are also many opportunities for multi-modal transportation.

Regional buses can carry up to 2 bikes on the front.  Bikes can go on Metro before or after rush hour on weekdays and anytime on weekends.  Credit: WMATA

Chatting about bike sharing in front of Zipcar, the car sharing company.  Bike sharing and car sharing go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Credit: twitter
This is the future.  Bikes for all of us.

2017 UPDATE 

Bikeshare took another step forward in September 2017 when a number of companies debuted GPS-tracked smart bikes in Washington, D.C.  These so-called "dockless bikes" are not intended as a replacement for the successful Capital Bikeshare program, but as a supplement. It's hard not to be giddy about supply finally catching up with the demand for bikes for the rest of us.

Monday, August 4, 2008

SmartBike Comes To DC

Rumor has it that the much anticipated bike sharing program in Washington, DC, is operational! Supre-fantastique! Check it out and report back. Details and locations are here: SmartBike DC.

Photo: Jeff Peel, some rights reserved, CC 2.0