Regulating the Ride: Lessons on the Evolution of Dockless Bikeshare Policy in American Cities

Throughout the U.S. and elsewhere, a growing number of dock-less bikeshare programs are being launched and managed to varying outcomes. Typically operated by private-sector investors, these programs represent a low-cost and visible means of improving personal mobility for residents and visitors. Still, many cities have allowed the operation of bikeshare programs without a written ordinance or enforceable set of regulatory guidelines to govern the safe and equitable usage of bikeshare within their borders. Limited information has thus far been gathered on how cities regulate bikeshare programs, or the degree to which city officials are willing or equipped to address the issue. This report adapts an existing policy rubric to a national sample of large American cities to document dock-less bikeshare regulations, score them against one another, and place them onto a spectrum of regulation. Using interviews and analyses of local media, this report also explores the experiences and insights gleaned from city bikeshare coordinators and cycling advocates in seven large American cities who have in recent years grappled with how to fairly and effectively regulate dock-less bikeshare programs in the name of safety and the general welfare. Analysis indicates a great many of the largest American cities lack an ordinance governing bikeshare programs, despite nearly all of them having active dock-less bikeshare programs on their streets. Findings indicate the process of regulating dock-less bikeshare programs varies considerably across American cities, with many coordinators and city officials innovating policies that suit their local and most immediate needs, due to a general lack of national best-practices for dock-less bikeshare regulation. Findings also illustrate the growing symbiosis between bikeshare programs and city infrastructure investments. Results also document the vagueness of regulatory language in those cities possessing a written ordinance, with limited verbiage devoted to issues of safety or equity among riders. These findings illustrate a failure on the part of local governments to anticipate or properly manage the growth of dock-less bikeshare providers on their streets. At the same time, the study also highlights a need for more robust and thoughtful bikeshare regulations that are better equipped to advance community goals of safety, equity, and the fair use of the public right-of-way.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 51p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01727568
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Contract Numbers: CTEDD 018-08 SG
  • Created Date: Jan 8 2020 5:11PM