A Garland startup is placing bicycles around downtown and Uptown where eager bike riders can use an app to rent their ride.
D Magazine’s Matt Goodman recounts the earlier Dallas effort in 2014 that essentially confines riders to the Fair Park area, was very expensive to start, and which ultimately is little used.
Now, VBikes has started a bike-share program that requires no docking stations — when you’ve finished your ride, just leave the bike where you stopped.
“All the feedback we get is, ‘we’ve been waiting for someone to come do this here.”
According to Goodman, here’s how it works:
First, download the app and use GPS to locate a bike. Then, pay a refundable $99 deposit. Third, enjoy your ride.
The bikes cost a $1 an hour for your ride and have a Bluetooth enabled lock that unlocks when you hover your app-equipped phone over the bike.
Luke Pettyjohn, one of the VBikes’ development heads, told D Magazine that the app tracks where you take the bicycle and how far you go. He said that’s about all the data the app collects.
To get started, VBikes literally just dropped bikes off around downtown and Uptown without seeking permission, and so far it’s getting positive feedback from users. Bikes are available at Klyde Warren Park, for example.
“All the feedback we get is, ‘we’ve been waiting for someone to come do this here. We’ve wanted bikes available to us.’ We think we’ve tapped into a latent demand that’s been missing here in Dallas,” VBike’s Luke Pettyjohn told D Magazine. “Our goal is to get people on bikes.”
VBikes was begun by David Shan, founder of Garland-based all-terrain vehicle maker Massimo Motor Sports.
“It’s interesting in that this could be a really good opportunity to get a bike-share system because we’re not able to fund one.”
The company builds its own bicycles, and can build 30 bikes a day. It has 200 already assembled.
The city seems to be supportive of VBikes’ idea, and the company is in talks with DART and city officials.
Jared White, of the city’s Mobility and Street Services Department, told D Magazine city staff is amenable to VBikes’ plans.
“I live downtown and just started seeing them,” White said. “I read about what’s going on in other cities and how these folks kind of just show up. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s interesting in that this could be a really good opportunity to get a bike-share system because we’re not able to fund one.”