DALLAS - At the start of last summer, there were zero ride-share bikes in Dallas. Now, there are more ride-share bikes in Dallas than in any other city in the U.S.
Despite the vast number of bikes, the city of Dallas isn't regulating them yet. Their plan was to let the bike companies operate with no strings attached. The city would observe, study and then come back with regulations if needed later.
As complaints started rolling when the influx of bikes really peaked in the late fall/early winter, city officials say regulations would be coming — but not all at once. It’s a discussion that will be going on into the fall.
The Katy Trail is packed with ride-share bike users and abusers. Most riders are happy the bikes are around. They just know the systems needs some tweaking.
“I feel that they're a clutter,” admitted bike user Eric Roberts. “But I feel that they are also an asset to the community.”
How that asset can best be used was the topic during hours worth of discussion at Dallas City Hall on Monday. With Dallas now the leader in the number of bikes, other cities are watching to see it also lead on regulations.
“Cities across this nation are looking to Dallas to kind of get this thing sorted out so they can adopt our best practices,” said Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman.
But as the unregulated test phase comes to a close, officials are still trying to work out exactly what the regulations will be. With policies now expected to be adopted in the fall, some council members pressed staff on timing.
Staff is currently working on franchise agreements with the bike share companies that will formally give them access to city sidewalks. It would require the companies to share usage data with the city and also require bikes to be placed in designated parking areas. The plan is to finalize the agreements over the next few months.
One of the first areas where people might notice some of the regulations is in Downtown Dallas. Crews will install designated parking areas, where they stripe off parts of the sidewalk where they want people to leave the bikes.
“We're working now to get these franchise agreements together in some fashion so that we can start working toward the final solution when we come back to council in the fall,” said Jared White with the Dallas Transportation Department.
Meanwhile, council members in Plano approved a new ordinance Monday that puts limits on bike sharing.
Plano will require all bike share companies operating in the city to have a permit. They’ll be required to set up “home zone” for bike parking and will be limited to just three bikes in any one zone.
The bikes must include a phone number on them for people to report when they are parked illegally. And the Downtown Plano sidewalks, Legacy Town Center and Memorial Park areas will be off limits for the bikes.