Customers use an app to find a GPS-enabled bike, reserve it and use a smartphone to unlock it.
(TNS) — Two bike-share companies — LimeBike and Spin — have jumped into the race to win Dallas customers with colorful stationless bikes placed around the city.
Spin rolled out about 50 bright orange bikes this week. LimeBike will launch a fleet of between 50 and 100 bright green bikes next week. And Garland-based VBikes — which launched in early June — already has its silver and bright yellow bikes parked near Klyde Warren Park and scattered throughout downtown Dallas.
The three bike-share companies follow in the footsteps — or wheels — of stationless bike-share startups that have taken off in Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities in Asia. The business model lowers the infrastructure costs by swapping bike stations for an app-based system that locates and locks the bike. Customers can use the bikes to commute to work, ride to a restaurant or complete the last leg of a bus or train trip. He or she uses an app to find a GPS-enabled bike, reserves it and uses a smartphone to unlock it.
Spin and LimeBike, the two new players in Dallas, are both Bay Area-based, venture-backed companies. Spin has raised $8 million. LimeBike has raised $12 million.
Spin co-founder and president Euwyn Poon spent Friday riding his bike around Uptown, Deep Ellum and downtown Dallas. The company has a fleet of bikes in Seattle and Mountain View, Calif., and will soon expand to southern San Francisco. He said Spin set its sights on Dallas after learning the city had no bike-share program but had city officials enthusiastic about the idea.
Poon said the bike-share competition will force all three companies to up their game with app design, bike features and maintenance."There are going to be a bunch of small companies that try to jostle for a position," he said.
He said the stationless bikes bring down costs for cities and increase convenience for customers. He compared station-based bike-share programs to "as if Uber only picked you up from five places in the city."
Poon said Spin is exploring partnerships with retailers to help them boost foot traffic and with companies that could offer the bikes at a discount or as an employee perk.
LimeBike is in five markets across the country. It's backed by Andreessen Horowitz, a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm that counts Airbnb, BuzzFeed and Lyft among its portfolio companies.
The company has been talking to Dallas city council members and city staff since May, said Andrew Savage, vice president of strategic development. By working closely with city officials, he said LimeBike hopes to stand out from the pack. He said LimeBike would like to help the city develop a permit program or regulatory structure and plans to share ridership data that could make the city make infrastructure decisions.
Spin and LimeBike's bikes are three-speeds and have a basket that's lined with a solar panel that charges the lockbox. The companies charge the same price for bike rental: $1 per 30 minutes. They do not have a deposit, but both require a credit or debit card. LimeBike also has a frequent rider price that charges $30 for 100 rides.
VBikes also costs $1 per hour — or $0.50 per 30 minutes — but requires a $99 refundable deposit. It caps the daily rental rate at $10.
All three are among the stationless bike companies vying for customers in Seattle. The city recently created a new list of rules and permit requirements for private bike-share companies.
Dallas is working on its own regulations, bike transportation manager Jared White said. A City Council subcommittee will discuss the bike-share companies Aug. 14.
White said it's been exciting, but also stressful, to see bikes pop up around town. He said he's gotten few complaints but wants to make sure companies carry insurance and keep bikes from being haphazardly parked all around town.
"Dallas was kind of behind on getting bike-share implemented," he said. "but this may be a way for us to leapfrog ahead — if we can do it in a proper way."
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