Dockless Bike Share Programs Launch in St. Louis

[Photo Courtesy: Cristina M Fletes for St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

As of Monday morning, Mayor Lyda Krewson has officially announced the launch of Bike Sharing in the City of St. Louis. Ofo and LimeBike, two private companies who have been granted permits to operate within the city, have deployed hundreds of colorful bikes around various St. Louis neighborhoods, available for anyone and everyone. This milestone is the result of several years of research and discussion between regional stakeholders, including WashU.

Background of Bike Share in St. Louis

In 2014, Great Rivers Greenway completed a Bike Share feasibility study and business plan which was followed by the creation of a Bike Share Working Group led by Bi-State Development. WashU, along with other key institutions and local organizations, took part in the research and discussions aimed at bringing a Bike Share program to the St. Louis region.

As dockless bike share programs are growing and flourishing in US cities, the City of St. Louis initiated the development of its own permit regulations in the fall of 2017, committing to manage and enforce such programs within its limits. Since the beginning of March, any bike share company can officially apply for a permit to operate within St. Louis.

The Benefits of “Dockless” Bike Share in St. Louis

Accessible everywhere, anywhere. Instead of having to pick up a bike from a designated location, one can find dockless bikes through GPS locators on a smart phone app or by calling a phone number. At the end of the ride, dockless bikes lock to themselves by clamping the back wheel, allowing wide availability throughout the city.

Equitable. To make sure that all residents of all means within the City of St. Louis have access to shared bikes, the City requires all bike share operators to maintain at least 20% of their fleet in designated “Social Equity and Inclusion Neighborhoods”, identified for their high concentration of low-income and low-car ownership households.

Affordable. Because of reduced infrastructure needs, dockless bike share is significantly cheaper to use than traditional systems. Lime bike rides are $1 for 30 minutes and Ofo’s are $1 for an hour.  Both vendors offer discount options for low-income users as well as for University and College affiliates.

Dockless bikes are, like any other bike, healthy, fun, and will save you money and time in many occasions. Ultimately, bike share has the potential to significantly reduce the number of cars on the road, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions.

“Bike share presents a great opportunity for St. Louis residents and visitors, whether you’re trying to get to work or to a meeting, run a few errands, connect to a Metrolink stop or take a trip to a nearby park or museum,” says Mayor Lyda Krewson. “By ensuring access to bikes across the city we can improve transportation options for all St. Louisans and help bridge physical and social divides that have historically separated our neighborhoods.”

Dockless Bike Share at WashU

The permits received by LimeBike and Ofo allow them to operate within the St. Louis City public right of way only. To deploy shared bikes on WashU properties, which includes the Danforth campus and the South 40, BikeShare companies are required to have an agreement with the University, which accounts for WashU’s unique setting and the many bikes already present on campus.

WashU is currently working on an agreement that will include a variety of guidelines aimed at maintaining a beautiful campus while making this innovative technology available to the entire campus community.

We are looking forward to welcome bike share onto WashU campuses, which will offer a modern, convenient, cheap and easily accessible alternative mode of transportation to all students, faculty and staff.