In just the last few years, many U.S. cities have caught on to the formerly European phenomenon called bike share. As bike sharing programs open across major cities in the U.S., many of them have seen great success with higher than expected rider turnouts fueling the expansion of these systems. However, one major piece of equipment has been keeping bike sharing out of smaller markets: the docking station.
Once known as the symbol of bike share, the often massive and clunky docking stations required to lock bike sharing bikes may be a thing of the past. As seen here, Hoboken New Jersey is planning on being the first U.S. bike sharing city to launch a program without docks. Using what is being called a “smart lock” system, the bike sharing bicycles will be stand-alone bikes that can be locked anywhere a certain geographic boundary within the city. Using technology similar to car-sharing programs like car2go, the smart dock will allow people to track bicycles via smart phone, web, or just seek one out by looking around popular parts of town.
Although this will most likely require a larger volume of bicycles, and the need for re-dispersal of bicycles may also increase, overall the market entry cost and capital cost will diminish substantially. This will allow bike sharing to serve a wider range of communities of different sizes. Cheaper equipment means potential lower fees for use, which could lead to a larger audience for bike share. The introduction of this “dock-less” technology could revolutionize bicycle usage in the United States, getting more people out of cars and onto bicycles in communities of all shapes and sizes with the new competitive advantage this technology could potentially provide.
Edited By Matt Berggren