If you have been down to the lake in the past few days, you may have noticed some yellow and grey bikes parked near the Spillway. Don’t worry, it’s not a family with matching bicycles who went for a hike a never came back, but a new bike-sharing program that has finally made its way to the lake. VBikes is a startup from Garland that has been placing their tech-savvy shared bikes around Dallas this summer, and now there is a new way to cruise the lake even if you don’t have a bike, or don’t want to schlep it from home.
Unlike the City of Dallas’ bike share program, these bikes don’t have to be returned to the same docking station where they were found, or any docking station at all. One just needs to download the VBikes app, sign up via Facebook or phone number, and then you can unlock the bike via the app and ride it for as long as you please. It costs just a dollar pr hour to ride, but there is a $99 deposit to use the bicycles. Matthew Morris, who is in business development with VBikes, says he sees the fee as a membership fee. Riders don’t have to continue to make the deposit, but it remains in their account for as long as they wish. If the rider moves to a place where there are no VBikes or no longer wishes to use the app, the deposit can be refunded . When finished, the rider is instructed to manually lock the bike and park in “any proper location,” meaning you could ride it from the lake and leave it in Deep Ellum if you wanted. Cyclists can use the app to locate the shared bicycles as well.
According to VBikes, there are currently 100 bicycles in use throughout Dallas, and there are about 25 unique riders per bicycle. Right now, they have contracts with Klyde Warren Park and Buzz Works, an apartment complex in the Cedars neighborhood. This means that they replenish the supply of bikes at that location, but the bikes can be ridden and left anywhere, such as the group in the picture above. VBikes collects the cycles from low-use areas and brings them back to these more high-use locations.
Becky Rader, the Park Board Commissioner for District 9, says that VBikes has requested a meeting about placement of their bicycles at White Rock Lake. VBikes wants to do things by the book. “We have met with the city and want to fit in with the city and do things the right way. We want to provide a service to tourists and citizens, build ridership, make the city more pedestrian and bike-friendly,” said Morris.
VBikes wishes to go nation-wide, and will be operating in Seattle in the next two weeks.
The Garland-made bikes have tires that don’t need air, they don’t have chains that can break or get caught on clothing, and they only need to be charged once a year. If you want to learn more about the history of bike-share in Dallas, check out D Magazine’s piece about VBikes and programs like it.
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