They are coming, whether you like it or not. Well, a few are, anyway. Dockless bikes, the latest trend contributing to the growing space of urban mobility, are entering the Boulder market by way of a two-year pilot program. This month, Boulder’s City Council approved a 2-year pilot program which allows operators up to 100 bikes.
What are dockless bikes anyway?
Dockless bikes are bike share programs similar to BCycle which are tracked and reserved via an app, but which may be parked essentially anywhere. In some cities, companies have launched fleets of scooters and e-bikes with the same model.
In some city’s, including Denver, dockless pilot programs have struggled due to complaints of bikes being left in disorderly or inconvenient locations (e.g. middle of pedestrian areas) and unauthorized users taking or tampering with the bikes. But dockless operators insist Boulder is an ideal market for the model.
During Boulder’s two-year pilot, fleets will be limited to 100 bikes and bikes must still be locked to something stationary (such as a bike rack), a regulation the fleet operators feel defeats the purpose of the dockless model. Operators are also paying some hefty licensing fees.
Regardless, it represents the latest development in an urban mobility boom. Just last week, Lyft announced its $250 million acquisition of Motivate, a bike share company with prominent programs including New York’s Citi Bike and Boston’s Blue Bikes. Uber last year acquired Jump Bikes. The app Citymapper, which has yet to arrive in Boulder or Denver, helps users build A to B trips with all available means of transit, such as bus, rail, rideshare, bike/scooter share, and more.
What does this mean for commercial real estate?
The evolution of urban transit, which will soon include driverless cars, is changing the way many city’s plan real estate. Parking garages are expected to occupy incrementally less of the overall real estate in the future.
Current development projects in downtown Boulder have proven that real estate is banking on the new era of mobility. The renovation of 1102 Pearl Street does not include the addition of any new parking spaces. Meanwhile, business owners at 1911 11th Street, also undergoing renovation, are looking at offering employees bikeshare memberships. And all downtown employees qualify for the popular EcoPass program which contributes to above average bus ridership rates. With all of these options, property owners and business owners are able to view transit differently and can plan accordingly.