Miami Commissioners Vote to Regulate Shared Bikes (and Whatever Happened to the Scooters?)
It was just over one year ago in June of 2017 that Lime (the California startup formerly known as LimeBike) rolled out its dockless bike-sharing services in Key Biscayne as the company’s first U.S. city launch. It wasn’t long before the program expanded to cities all over the country and further across Miami, including suburban neighborhoods as far as Kendall and Miami Lakes. Competitors like Ofo and Spin surfaced soon after as the concept gained popularity. The idea was simple – download an app, find a nearby bike using location services, input your payment info, and pay as you go. Whereas Citibikes requires riders to return their bicycle to a docking station upon finishing their ride, Lime and Oto allow riders to leave them anywhere.
The convenience offered by the dockless programs is a huge hit with riders, but with that convenience also comes the dangers of abandoned bikes all over the city. Stray bicycles have been seen blocking access to public ways, along busy sidewalks, in the front yards of private homes, and in some rare cases, dumped in the ocean or hanging from trees. With Miami traffic being amongst the worse in the country, the demand for the program is clear, but lawmakers in many cities have struggled to regulate it. The difficulty lies in protecting public safety without stripping away the programs’ key feature.
Last Tuesday, July 10th, Miami city commissioners voted in favor of 3 different resolutions aimed at regulating the bike-sharing programs. The resolutions include $100 fines for unattended bikes left in county rights of way, with removal by the Department of Transportation and Public Works. The county was also asked to prepare studies that will help determine the needs of future regulation, and whether or not to create designated parking areas for the dockless bikes.
As for the dockless electric scooters, which appeared to have taken over Brickell almost overnight and then were suddenly gone only weeks later – the two providers (Bird and Lime) temporarily pulled out after receiving cease and desist letters from the city, citing violations of Florida statute. A spokesperson for Lime shared that over 10,000 residents and visitors of Miami made nearly 30,000 scooter trips between April and June. Lime general manager for Miami, Jed Fluxman, said in a statement, “With such strong ridership, we are committed to serving the community for the long-term and will temporarily pause operations in order to work with the City of Miami on fair, sensible regulations that cement Lime’s place in the Miami community for years to come.” While the timing is uncertain, it appears this won’t be the last of seeing Brickell bankers and professionals donning suit and ties aboard electric scooters, nor is there any end to dockless bike programs in sight.