If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ll know that there was a crazy girl in Charlotte NC this weekend raving about dockless bike shares into her phone to the bemused confusion of passers by.
Yeah… I nerded out pretty hard.
But you have to understand, I want so badly to support Bike shares. I want them to work. But I also have spent 3 years ignoring them because you have to know your way around a place enough to know where to find a station. And then walk from that station to your actual destination. And often, despite meticulous and careful planning, that conflicts with desire paths and feasibility of enticing unfamiliar users to take one for a test run.
Enter the concept of dockless Bike shares, where you literally can’t escape the siren song of a bike on every corner.
I was heading out of my hotel to meet a friend for lunch yesterday with the assumption I would just walk the half mile to the restaurant. But after passing 9 of these citrusy themed lime bikes in just 2 blocks, I surrendered to the promise of “free first ride”, downloaded the app and was rolling within seconds.
If you don’t see a bike immediately, the app has a map of nearby available bikes. To unlock a bike you just scan the QR code in the app and the rear wheel mechanism unlocks with a cheerful beep. After your first ride you can add a credit card and subsequent rides are just $1.
To end your ride, you just slide the red button down on the back brake until you hear another happy chirping tone.
The bikes have generator lights so you can ride them at night as well.
Apparently Furman in Greenville has a fleet of orange Spin bikes running on the same model, and personally I would love to see these downtown. I’m sure a lot of people would find it annoying to have bright clunky bikes on every corner, but it’s basically my personal dream come true.
Not to mention we also sighted a pub cycle last night, which is another magical invention combining the best of things in this world.
Also impressive: Charlotte’s cycling infrastructure, including the pedestrian/bike friendly trolley side path. I wish I’d had more time to explore or join one of the many community group rides!
This bit was new to me. The car traffic was quite light on the weekend, so I took the lane and turned instead of taking the time to figure this technique out.
Bikes + coffee = weekend made. Be sure to check out the Crispy Crepe if you get the chance 👌
And yeah, I know there are downsides to dockless bike shares. Despite the tracking devices the bikes could still be stolen, people could abuse the system, crotchety people will complain about the “perils” of one of the safest modes of transportation. But you know what? I finally tried a bike share. And it was the highlight of my weekend, despite the fact I was in Charlotte for a wedding (let’s not mention this to the bride). So don’t rain on my parade of green and yellow limebikes.