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City in talks with bike-share companies

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

Austin Transportation Department officials and representatives from three new bike-share companies have broken bread. The meeting came at the city’s request after the companies – Spin, Ofo and Donkey Republic – dropped their on-demand bicycles onto city sidewalks at the beginning of South by Southwest without any notice. The companies differ from Austin’s official bike-share service, B-Cycle, in that their two-wheelers don’t require docking stations. The potential for bikes to be picked up and dropped off on any piece of available right-of-way struck a note of concern for ATD officials. On Tuesday, the department issued a statement saying that the companies have been “instructed to suspend service until proper documentation such as insurance and safety requirements can be reviewed.” The statement goes on to say, “We welcome innovative transportation solutions and look forward to learning how dockless bike share systems can further mobility choices in a safe and reliable manner. We are in discussions with these companies about a short-term non-commercial pilot project that, if approved, would operate for the length of the SXSW Festival. Through this pilot program, the City intends to gather information about system operations in order to further our understanding of the public benefits of this type of bike sharing service. The City of Austin actively promotes bicycle transportation and supports access to bike share as a mobility option for residents and visitors to Austin. However, it is important that all businesses occupying the public right of way do so lawfully, and do not present any public safety hazards.“

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