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Pro Tip for Managing Dockless Bike-Share “Clutter” — Give Them Space on the Street

3:18 PM CDT on April 26, 2018

So close, Seattle! The city is reserving space for dockless bike-share parking on the sidewalk, not the curb lane. Photo: Seattle DOT

Dockless bike-share fleets -- and now dockless scooters -- are arriving in American cities by the tens of thousands.

Like anything new on the street, these vehicles have not been introduced without controversy. Much of the pushback relates to the issue of storage: Where do they go when they aren't being used? So many articles have been written about dockless bike-share "clutter" at this point, it's already a genre you can parody.

But as bike-share expert Alex Baca has pointed out, there's a readily available solution to the storage problem: Just reserve some curb space for bike-share parking.

Stefani Cox at the Better Bike Share Blog reports that one U.S. city is already doing this -- sort of. Seattle has started reserving sidewalk space -- but not street space -- for parking dockless bikes.

So far the city has designated five bike-share parking areas in the Ballard neighborhood. Seattle DOT says the 6-by-10-foot zones were selected because they won't interfere with pedestrian access. All spaces are out of the way of buildings, bus stops, curb ramps, and loading zones.

But the easiest way to avoid interfering with people walking is to put these bike parking areas in the curb lane. Seattle's not doing that, at least not yet.

Seattle does have on-street bike corrals, and oddly enough, the city even put a dockless bike-share zone on the sidewalk next to a corral.

If cities really want to make dockless bike-share work, they'll have to get over their aversion to repurposing car parking spaces for other uses.

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