Talking Bike Share in Dallas

Talking Bike Share in Dallas

In February, we got together a few people to talk about Dallas, dockless bike share, and mobility parklets. We invited three folks to join the conversation, including City Councilman Philip Kingston, who is working on the regulations for bike share; LimeBike’s Dallas General Manager Anthony Fleo, who’s bringing dockless bike share to town; and The Ticket’s Craig Miller, who’s a bicycling advocate but has some concerns about bike share.

About 80 people packed into Oddfellows on a very rainy evening to have the conversation. (You can watch the whole discussion here.) A few key themes emerged during our hour-long talk:

  1. Dallas lacks in bicycling infrastructure. We just don’t have enough protected bike lanes for people to feel safe bicycling, so they choose the sidewalk instead. We also don’t have enough bike racks, for personal bikes or bike share storage.
  2. We’re all waiting on data. Dockless bike share launched mid-2017, and even though we’ve had a bit of a cold winter, the data indicates that people are using them. Everyone—bike share companies, the City, bicyclists—is waiting to see what the data tells us with the spring and summer ridership. And, no, the data is not being sold. The companies are working on ways to share more of it with the City. One piece of data that Fleo shared: LimeBike has 94,000 active users in Dallas.
  3. Many think dockless bike share is an eyesore. This point has been brought up time and time again in person and on social media. We believe there’s beauty in a little bit of chaos. In Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, Economist Sanford Ikeda talks about how Jacobs, the great urbanist, saw cities. “Living cities aren’t pretty,” he says. “They’re messy. … If you can understand a city, then that city’s dead. Living cities are congested. Frustrating. At the same time, that’s where your dreams come true.” In an effort to organize dockless bike share, we fear that we’ll kill some dreams. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but with bike share, we’re giving people the option to choose their transportation; the freedom to more efficiently get from point A to point B.

There are just a few steps involved with permitting a parklet. This sign lays them out. Photo by Can Turkyilmaz.

Knowing that dockless bike share is being used but that it’s seen as an eyesore because of the lack of infrastructure, we prototyped a digitally fabricated mobility parklet. The parklet not only reclaims the public space for the pedestrian, but it also provides a space for people to linger while waiting for ride share or public transit; and it also provides bike racks for personal or bike share bikes.

We built the mobility parklet as a prototype and debuted it at the event. It’s tricky getting a parklet permitted in the City of Dallas, but our hope is that this can be the beginning of the discussion.

Want to create your own parklet? It’s on our Wikiblock site. You can download it, cut it out, and put it together.

We know this doesn’t solve the issues people have with dockless bike share. But we do believe dockless bike share is a good thing that needs to be tweaked based on usage. We will work on some more tweaks. Until then, happy cycling!

The digitally fabricated mobility parklet from the Better Block. Photo by Can Turkyilmaz.