When it comes to dockless bike sharing in C-U, things seem to be moving along. With City of Urbana's City Council session on May 21st in the near future, this topic will soon become more real if/when it gets the go-ahead from council. Obviously, we'll have to wait and see what happens with Urbana, but both City of Champaign and the University of Illinois are on board, so it looks promising.
The Gazoo reported about the Champaign City Council's "initial OK" to the system, and companies like VeoRide are hiring positions in Champaign-Urbana for "brand ambassadors". I spoke with Ben LeRoy at the City of Champaign, who filled me in on a variety of the companies that have "expressed interest" in the market:
- Lenny Bike
There are similar systems that require docks, ike Divvy bikes in Chicago, for example, but the dockless bikeshare has a self-locking mechanism, and is GPS enabled through a phone app.
The cities and the University are working to set regulations that makes it open to anyone who can meet the performance standards to explore the market with dockless bike sharing. While there are 7-8 companies expressing interest, it is more likely that 3-4 will actually decide to come and operate in C-U.
This is a pilot program, which provides all three portions of the community to have flexibility to change and adjust the rules behind bike share in the community. LeRoy discussed some of the benefits of dockless vs. docks:
- Capital cost: Installing the stations is expensive, so this eliminates the need for these
- Operational cost: Rebalancing the bikes around town with trucks to make sure they are evenly distributed is costly, and maintaining the docks takes time and money
- Convenience: dockless offers opportunity to have a point to point experience (meaning, you can ride directly to your destination vs. needing to find a dock to return your bike).
There's more information to come about bikesharing in C-U, but it looks imminent to say the least. Expect these companies to start heading to C-U in the summertime at some point.
Top photo from VeoRide's Instagram.