PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The city of Philadelphia is considering a controversial dockless bike-sharing program that allows borrowers to leave their wheels just about anywhere. Critics say this is a great way to make a mess, but city officials really want to get this program in gear.
There are plenty of docked bike stations throughout Philadelphia, more than 100 in fact, but this fall, finding a bike could be as easy as tracking one with your phone.
Sure, you could drive to work; maybe take the bus, but especially on a day like Friday, wouldn’t it be nice to let the wind flow through your hair and hop on a bike?
“It’s pretty much hassle free. You don’t have to worry about repairs or exactly locking it outside or getting it stolen,” a bicyclist named Claire said.
Claire is talking about the Indego Bike Share, which, since 2015, uses docked stations strategically placed throughout Philly to allow riders to grab and go. But now, a new program is introducing dockless bikes to city streets.
“Dockless bike share is a little bit different. It’s basically using equipment on the bicycles to show users where they are and register the check ins and check outs,” said Aaron Ritz, the city’s transportation programs manager for the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability.
Ritz won’s sugar coat it.
“I think we can be honest with ourselves. There are going to be things our there in the real world that are going to be problematic,” Ritz said.
Such as theft, bike blocking the right of way and even some mischievous places Philadelphians may leave them behind.
“I’ve seen where the bike was in the tree, it was hanging in the tree. I don’t know how it got up there. I don’t know why you’d leave a bike in the tree,” a Philadelphian said.
That’s why the pilot program will only allow two companies to operate during a trial phase which will last one year. Each company will be allowed a maximum of 1,200 bikes.
And unlike Camden, New Jersey’s failed dockless program, which last just two months, Ritz says the program in Philly will have different requirements.
“We’re requiring that the bikes lock to something,” he said. “We don’t want some other person or some action to happen and the bike falls over into the sidewalk or something dumb happens to it.”
But even so, these bicyclists aren’t sold on the idea.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Philadelphians didn’t stick it behind dumpsters or the Rocky statue,” Claire said.
“I think it’s better if you just put it back on the dock,” one man said.
The licenses to operate will cost $76,000 and companies who are selected could faced $65 fines per bike plus storage fees if they end up blocking sidewalks and handicap ramps.