One of the reasons given for not joining bike share schemes is the inconvenience of pick up and drop off points. According to Derrick Ko, Spin founder, “with station-based bike share, you’re limited to where the stations are. From a transportation standpoint, it’s very unnatural.”
According to Co.Exist, Spin launched a station-less bike share scheme this month in Austin and has plans to expand to other cities in the US during 2017. With this system, users can ride any Spin bike they see on the street or if none are in sight they can search for the closest one using the app. The customer walks to the chosen bike and unlocks it with a code provided by the app. At the end of the trip, the user just needs to lock the bike to any existing rack.
Station-less bike share systems are already common in China and may be a solution for encouraging more people to use this type of transport in other countries. As is usually the case with transportation, people tend to choose the most convenient alternative, and so the freedom to end the trip closer to one’s destination is definitely an advantage in comparison to traditional station-based bike shares.
The success of this bike share will depend on the number of bikes available and their distribution to ensure there are available bicycles where and when users need them. In addition, in locations where there is already a city bike share program, as is the case in Austin, private companies, such as Spin, need to be aligned with the city policies and plans, as was pointed out by City Lab.
However, docking station location is not always the only way to increase cycling rates. As we already mentioned in the Wayfinding Forum Blog, in Melbourne, 61% of people who don’t use the bike share scheme cited difficulties in finding a helmet or not willing to wear one as the main reason for not cycling. Sydney doesn’t have a bike share scheme yet, but the cycling rates in the city are lower than 2013 levels. Bicycle advocates argue that higher fines and more enforcement, together with poor infrastructure, are the main factors for this scenario.