Guest Editorial: Tempe’s Timely Template For Bike Share Regulations

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Litter or Luxury? The debate rages on.

By now, many Scottsdale and Paradise Valley residents have noticed the colorful dockless bikes left along the streets, parks, sidewalks and at times in the canal. While these bike-share programs offer visitors and locals an efficient way of getting around the city, the de-regulation of these dockless bikes have left headaches for many city officials.

Dockless bikes began surfacing in Arizona late last November, when LimeBike first launched its services in Scottsdale. The program later expanded to Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix.

The bike-share program works by placing bikes in pedestrian-friendly locations such as sidewalks, parks and downtown areas. Bikes can be located by a smartphone app with GPS tracking. Users pay around $1 per half-hour. When a user is done, they simply leave the bike for the next user to rent, often left abandoned.

With the rise in bikes popping up around the city, Tempe has decided to address the growing concerns.

Currently, the Tempe City Council is exploring rules and regulations to control the growing number of bikes popping up across the East Valley. Potential regulations including charging licensing fees and requiring companies to share bike-share data with the city. Tempe may also cap the number of bikes at 400 that are available for rent. Right now, each company has 250 bikes within the city.

As other cities struggle to manage their dockless bike program, Tempe’s “template” could serve as a first step forward for all.

There’s no easy solution to the bike share dilemma. There’s no question that bike share is transforming and modernizing transportation within downtown areas, and creating a cost efficient, community friendly and colorful way of getting around. But it should not come at the expense, safety, and aesthetic of its residents. Indeed, one of the most powerful comments hear at a recent City Council meeting was in Scottsdale when a disabled person in a wheelchair pleaded with city leaders. Unused bikes on sidewalks near his home were not allowing him to get to the grocery store. Scottsdale fought hard to get for-profit sign spinners off its public property. Should for-profit bike companies be any different? Tempe may answer that questions. Tempe is smart to face its bike concerns head on and find meaningful solutions forward. Scottsdale officials take note.