United States

2 Dockless Bike Companies Leaving DC, Citing Regulations

D.C. let Mobike operate 400 bikes. In Milan, where there's a similar operating area, they could put 8,000 bikes out

Two dockless bike companies operating in D.C. announced they will leave the city, both citing trouble with city regulations. 

Chinese company Mobike, which has orange-and-silver bikes, told News4 they will leave the District because city rules are too stringent. 

Another Chinese company, Ofo, known for its yellow bikes, has cited similar trouble. 

“D.C. is being very much a unique case of having the wrong regulatory environment for us to hit those basic bike-share physics,” said Chris Martin, Mobike’s vice president of international expansion.

D.C. caps the number of dockless vehicles each company can put in the city at 400. Martin said that wasn't enough to keep bikes near users. 

Mobike operates in over 200 markets globally, including Milan, which has a similar operating area to D.C., Martin said.

Milan lets the company put 8,000 bikes on its streets, Martin said. 

“When we have that density, we have that huge user adoption,” the executive said.

Mobike declined to say how many people in D.C. were regular Mobike users.

The company has had bikes on the streets of D.C. since October. It was one of seven companies that participated in a city pilot that began last September. 

Five companies operating dockless bikes and motorized scooters in the District remain as Ofo and Mobike exit the market. Jump and Spin operate only bikes. The companies Waybots and Bird have electric scooters. Limebike has both types of vehicles.

Some neighbors have seen the bikes, which sometimes get left in strange or obtrusive locations, as a nuisance. But others have seen them as a way to fill gaps where there is limited access to Capital Bikeshare docking stations.

In response to the news, the District Department of Transportation released a statement saying that Mayor Muriel Bowser is still focused on safe, reliable and affordable transportation.

"We appreciate the participation of all the companies and look forward to using the information collected during the demonstration project to arrive at long-term options for the use of dockless vehicles in the District," the statement said.

Mobike has started giving customers refunds. They said they began removing the bikes from D.C. streets and expect to have most removed by next week.

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