DoBi Is Done for the Moment — Share Your Thoughts on the Pilot Via a CDOT Survey

Members of We Keep You Rollin', a Far South Side bike group, with various types of bike-share. Photo: We Keep You Rollin'
Members of We Keep You Rollin', a Far South Side bike group, with various types of bike-share. Photo: We Keep You Rollin'

On Monday Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Chicago will be using part of a $2.5 million grant from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charitable foundation to expand bike-share to all parts of the city, WTTW reported. It’s not clear whether making that happen with involve expanding the Divvy system, allowing dockless bike-share (DoBi) companies to operate in new parts of town, both, or none of the above.

Meanwhile, Chicago’s dockless bike-share pilot, which launched on May 1 and included almost all of the city south of 79th Street (which is mostly outside of the Divvy coverage area), ended today. Jump, Lime, Ofo, and Zagster/Pace participated in the pilot, although Ofo dropped out early.

To learn more about how the program worked out from the user perspective, the Chicago Department of Transportation has launched a survey to collect feedback from residents and visitors who used DoBi during the pilot. They’re asking that all feedback be sent by November 21.

Beverly-based bike advocate (and occasional Streetsblog writer) Anne Alt shared her thoughts about the end of the dockless pilot. “It’s been interesting to see how things have played out over the last month,” she said. “Jump and Lime have been on top of their game, continuing to redistribute and service bikes. Pace hasn’t.”

Alt said that the number of Pace bikes on the street has been steadily shrinking. “Bikes taken to destinations outside the service area have remained there,” she wrote yesterday in an email. “As of this morning, there are 12 Pace bikes showing on the app, and most of those are outside the service area (Englewood, Woodlawn, Bronzeville). Rather disappointing after how aggressively they were hustling back in July. They had a program to place their racks at neighborhood businesses and other locations interested in hosting one. Those are all gone.”

But Alt added that the Jump bikes also disappeared rather abruptly over the last 3 days. “Yesterday on my train ride home, I checked the app,” she wrote. “The service area was erased from the map and all bikes were gone. No warning in the app, no email message, nothing. Poof – gone!”

Alt credited Lime for having a pop-up warning in its app Tuesday saying that bikes would no longer be available as of today, and encouraging users to take the CDOT survey and tell CDOT that they want DoBi service to continue in the future. She’s been promoting the survey on her personal blog Ridge 99 and via social media. “Some neighborhood businesses have seen a lot of DoBi traffic, and I see them jumping in to promote the survey,” she said.

As of earlier this afternoon there were still about a dozen Pace bikes that hadn’t been picked up, Alt said. However, she heard from a representative of the company in the late afternoon, who indicated that they had their hands full with pilot programs in multiple areas winding down around the same time.

If you tried DoBi during the pilot, be sure to fill out the CDOT survey within the next three weeks, and also share your thoughts in our comments section if you like.

  • planetshwoop

    Are scooters next?

  • Cameron

    It’s hard to blame the operators for the rough transition if the city forced them them to shutdown. Ideally the city would have conducted the survey and developed permanent rules before the end of the pilot to allow operators to make a smooth transition instead of forcing operators to shut down and remove all their equipment only to maybe start up again at some unknown point in the future.

  • Anne A

    I agree. It would have been better if CDOT had evaluated at an earlier date (perhaps 4-6 weeks ago) so this could have been handled more smoothly.

  • William Reed

    Though I never had a chance to use Jump or Lime during the pilot, I did use Pace with some frequency up until about mid September, when their customer service entirely stopped responding to my inquiries. It’s difficult to deal with a service like dockless bike share when there appear to be few to no employees (even in remote locations) who can respond to inquiries by email, Twitter, or any other means. I get the point about the city forcing them to shut down impacting their ability to smoothly transition, but from my perspective as a user Pace gave up long ago on trying to viably operate here, and it’s no surprise that they are slow to transition from the pilot, regardless of how the city rolled it out (or rolled it in, I guess).

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