Another thing beyond me is although the business model/development of this kind seems to be bound to fail, why they are still chased by enormous amount of capital.
My cynical suspicion is these so call tech start ups are just instrument of a grand new ponzi scheme in which a bunch of investors use borrowed money(from banks, insurance company and the likes) to set up a start up and increase the value of it(manufacture hype to justify the inflation along the way) and the sell to public, which is mainly pension funds, 401k, government backed institutions and so one, that is, ordinary folks.
I hope someone would correct me and shed some light on this matter.
Dockless, electric is a game-changer. JUMP bikes hit 20MPH in a few seconds, take less effort than will get you sweaty (critical for meetings/commuting) and you can take the bike lane. Then the vast majority of the time you just hook it up to whatever chunk of metal is nearby and you're done. It's the fastest way between almost any 2 points in SF and often the most convenient too.
At $2 for 30min + $0.07/min it was an absolute steal. At $3 I may have to think harder but if it makes the economics work, I'm still in. I basically stopped using Uber and pay $5-7/day for all the electric biking I need. Could I buy one for a years' fees? Yep. But I don't want to deal with the hassle of owning.
It literally should just take the Ford GoBike stations, and convert them into bike parking for only their brand of "dockless" bikes. Even if they don't have exclusivity over dockless bikes, having a monopoly over dedicated parking spots would make their brand of dockless bikes way more convenient.
Instead, scooters have taken over the city instead.
If I'm opening their app regardless of which transportation method I end up using, I'm more likely to keep coming back and will frequently choose to move up a tier (scooter -> bike -> car) if the price is "just a few dollars more".
It's worth considering the data component as well -- there's a tangible benefit to knowing which mode of transportation people are choosing for which trips.
OTOH, I don't think that the e-bike/scooter companies will ever be profitable. I wouldn't be surprised if the people running those companies are equally cynical.
“According to more than 1,600 participants who responded to the survey, 60% of San Diego Lime riders identify as Hispanic and 54% report an annual household income of $50,000 or less. Additionally, 1 in 4 Lime riders are 36 years old or older, with an average age of 31, and 16.5% of them have previously served or are currently serving in the US military.”
FWIW, I think your analysis (young, educated, bourgeois) is spot on, and that bikeshare companies are completely aware. Check out this map of Citi Bike's availability:
If you're not familiar with NYC: it's only available in business, wealthly/middle-class, and rapidly gentrifying areas. To continue my baseless speculation: it wouldn't surprise me if Citi Bike's (hypothetical) profitability relied on only serving these populations. Reprehensible, and another reason to agitate for bike shares as an extension of public transport.
Not writing off! I'm in that demographic. But let's call a spade a spade.
That being said, I think there's a substantial difference between PCs/cellphones/digital photography and bikesharing: the former were also adopted as business interests, while the latter is just a luxury or employment perk. PCs and cellphones reshaped the office, digital cameras reshaped newstelling and photojournalism; I find it hard to believe that bikesharing-qua-private-service will be doing much reshaping.
Not as big as cellphones obviously. Still something.
People who travel to client sites in dense urban environments may have even more interesting numbers.
This works very very well for first world Western societies.
The places where they have become nuisances are largely those that have been flooded with multiple competing (usually dockless) systems, because it turns out that you don't need a large capital investment to create a lot of junk sitting idle that gets in people's way.
I think bikeshare systems should be municipally owned (or at least municipally regulated). For me, the real killer app would be one that lets me get a bikeshare in any city.
I believe it's run by the local authority, and at such a level its easy to explain why it's much more likely to be economically viable. The state also has to deal with the externalities associated with other forms of transport (traffic, noise, pollution etc.), as well as the health consequences of its citizens. Additionally, it's not-dockless - which I think massively reduces the nuisance on everyone else.
I think the system is still docked though, isn't it? IIRC, you don't have to physically attach your bike to a docking station when you're done, but you are required to park within a certain (small) radius of a station to end your trip.
Nobody is "littering" the streets with cars. You just don't agree with the specifics of how the government has allocated the physical space resources under its control so you see it that way.
Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely on Team Ban Cars. But I think that recent unregulated dockless schemes have demonstrated that access to street/sidewalk space is the limiting factor for these companies, and it's sensible to restrict this access somewhat.
We have a docked system already but Lime scooters litter the sidewalks all over town. Why not remove a few car parking spots and require scooters be parked there? One spot could hold many scooters and keep them off the sidewalks.
London for example are phasing in stricter low-emission areas, which should technically mean less cars will be passing through. Eventually, they could re-purpose roads so that the primary function of them is for pedestrians, bikes, bike/scooter storage etc rather than 4+ lanes of car traffic.
That is why I believe it is temporary anyway, it seems natural that cities will head this way.
Maybe lyft wants to use it to strengthen their brand perception. They have bikes too = they are environmental friendly! Also play the marketing illusion that they are everywhere, as essentially people will be moving around the city riding lyft branded bikes.
s/grand new ponzi//
The capital is cheaper than ever and so is the hype.
Just not the big names
They also don't comply with GDPR. After confirming several times they have completely deleted my account and any reference to my email, I still get marketing emails from them every now and again.
Hence, as long as vandalism is not too much of a problem and thus the service can be provided cheaply, it should be profitable.
There is also a natural moat since once you are subscribed to the service with the most bikes you have an incentive to stick with it.
Lots of dumb money in the market too. Reminds me of Crypto before each collapse.
I've been a Mobike subscriber for a year now (in Berlin). The bikes are crap (i.e. cheap, in need of maintenance) but they are everywhere and I see it as saving on gym cost (hard work to ride one). But, if I need to get from A to B, I get one because I already payed for it. I probably payed them around 100 euros or so over the last year. I just renewed for 3 months for 24 euros. Every time I do this the price seems to change. This gets me unlimited 30 minute rides. After that they charge 1 euro per additional 30 minutes (tip, lock and unlock seems to work). I consider this good value. I don't have to worry about bike repairs, bike theft, or leaving my bike in a dodgy area. As soon as I lock it, it's not my problem.
I've done over 1200 km on mobikes in the last 12 months. Even in the winter when the weather is less nice, I still used them enough to make it worth the subscription.
The back of the envelope math is pretty interesting. If you have 10K users like me that's about 1M revenue. For a city like Berlin (4M inhabitants), you can probably do better. At 100 euro per bike, 1M buys you 10K bikes. I have no idea what these things cost per year but both the upfront investment to flood a city with bikes and setting up the support organization (maintenance mainly) are not that high. I'd say if they shoot for recurring revenue from around 20K users in a city like this, they ought to be very profitable. They have plenty of capacity to improve utilization as at this rate most bikes are not in use most of the time.
The main issues I've seen with competitors is that they think too small. Something like Mobike only makes sense if you can find one without effort. A lot of the failed startups in this space did not have enough bikes or too complex bikes (they break). Launching with a few hundred bikes is pointless. Everybody that did this in Berlin is gone (ofo, byke (with a y), lime, etc. Mobike did this right. They flooded the city with between 5K and 10K bikes. They are all over the place. I suspect the bulk price for these things is pretty OK. The main challenge is the growth strategy: they need recurring revenue.
I suspect Jump, which recently re-launched here, won't make it in Berlin because they don't do subscriptions, their operational zone is tiny, and they don't have enough bikes on the streets. The value proposition kind of sucks compared to Mobike.
Mobike looks like it might fail because their bikes are deteriorating and they seem to be in limbo now that their China based headquarters looks like they want to focus on just China. Apparently they are looking to sell off the European operations. I think it's an operation worth saving but it is going to take an investment to keep their existing user base and there's a bit of urgency because the experience is getting worse as the bikes get shittier.
The only way to mess this up is poor execution. There seems a lot of that in this business. But it's not an inherently bad business.
But Lyft decided to sue instead: https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/7/18657312/lyft-bike-share-l...
Have you read the contract terms in the article you're linking to? SFMTA is saying the contract was for 'docked bikes only' while Lyft is saying it was for a Bike Sharing Program, which could include docked or dockless bikes. Lyft does a good job describing what 'Bike sharing' is in that document so it will be up to the courts to decide if they're right.
“Bike sharing” is a public biking system concept that allows customers to rent a bike on a short-term basis from one section of a city and leave it in another section of the city that same day.
The Term Sheet provided, among other terms, that Motivate was to be the exclusive operator of any bike share system in the Participating Cities for at least ten (10) years.
The Term Sheet provided (emphasis added):
“During the Term of this Agreement, Motivate shall have the exclusive right to operate a bike sharing program that utilizes public property and public right of way anywhere within San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose and Emeryville.”
I like Lyft just fine and I especially applaud their efforts to expand into ebike-to-transit. But I also have a little trouble feeling sorry for a company that feels it has suffered a loss because its out-and-out regulatory capture scheme didn't pan out as successfully as it hoped.
If you're against an exclusivity agreement (which actually makes a lot of sense when establishing a transportation network) then your complaint should be with the government, not Lyft.
In Miami-Dade county Uber (drivers) for example racked up over $4M in fines between 2014-2016 for operating a ride for hire without being licensed, the way our statute works is the 1st charge is civil and 2nd is criminal. Lucy’s fines were less but still in the millions.
This is repeated in counties all over the country.
Nevertheless here is an article from six years ago showing California regulators fined a lift and shut them down for violating state law and lift had to retroactively work with regulators to remove the fines and continue operations.
The exclusive right to use public property and the public right of way to operate a bikeshare.
Sidewalks are not public property--they are private property subject to public easements. Ergo, any other bikeshare may legitimately use sidewalks to operate their bikeshares.
BAM. Disruption. Who would have thought that other companies could play the same game Lyft did?
That isn't even remotely similar to the position a local government fills, however.
How is this different from banning all but one automaker?
I have done bike / scooter fleet apps in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Malaga, Prague... I dunno, many other European cities - and I don't think I've ever come across one with such a policy.
Is this a normal European thing?
But they didn't need to foment a monopoly for a bike fleet company to achieve better public transit, so what is the underlying point you are trying to get people to understand?
Nowadays, those are gone because of a juridical dispute over the procurement process between some bike sharing companies.
Instead there are these e-scooters littered everywhere. They are used mostly by tourists. I have no idea how the companies collect those and charge them with a profit. Most likely they don't. There were also some non city cooperation leave the bike anywhere bike sharing companies, that failed.
Maybe the main problem with communal bike sharing is that there has to be forced returns to designated end points, and only the city can "afford" (i.e. designate) public space for those places?
If you can put the bike where ever after the rental, it's just gonna be a mess.
I've been a happy customer for years (first in DC and now SF), but ever since they removed their electric bikes, their docks have been empty so often that I can't count on using them any more.
Having multiple companies running taxis or P2P ride apps doesn’t matter so much as users as you can still hail a cab the same way and many P2P drivers use both Lyft and Uber, creating a good user experience.
However, that’s not true for these types of bike/scooter shares. The density of bikes/scooters is not so high that I’ll be able to pick just one app and have no problem finding transportation. And, if it was, we’d be tripping over them left and right.
Even interoperability between apps would be enough to solve this.
In modern times regulations are monopolistic power grabs by corporations, not the 'protection' they are intended to be.
It has been clear this happens, but people continue to elect politicians that regulate anyway.
Hopefully this is a traumatic event and teaches this community a good lesson. Our locals cities can take note, and their voters learn an important lesson that could otherwise harm national level elections.
(Perhaps a little pixie dust would help as well.)
The city fucked up hugely by making an exclusive deal with Ford/Motive (acquired by Lyft).
If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at SF government.
The rule of law means that you don't get to change contracts you've signed.
It was a bad contract but SF Government does many bad things, like repressive zoning and banning scooters.
Go vote them out of the office.
Technically you can if you wrote a clause allowing it or other conditionals. But we don't know the full contract and it's up to a judge to interpret it seems.
Actually, contracts get broken all the time, and the only recourse you can get for that sort of thing is a lawsuit.
This is by design.
They also force you to pick up the bike from designated racks and drop-off at designated racks which is a pain in the ass.
On the other hand JUMP has a fully e-bike fleet, but bikes were impossible to come by. I parked a JUMP bike that had full battery. An hour later I came back and the app didn’t let me unlock it (reason unknown to me). It seemed like things are really glitchy.
I found the entire bikeshare situation in SF to be miserable, in brief. Scooters are no different.
It’s funny to see that Seattle were like this 4 years ago. Now LIME and JUMP dominate Seattle with fleets entirely consisting of E-bikes. They are super ubiquitous, and there’s no shortage of them, no “glitches”, and no need to park them at a designated rack.
I mean it's pain in the ass when I have to move the crap from the front steps of my building or out of the driveway because people aren't courteous their dockless transport widgets. I'm alright walking a little ways to dock a bike/scooter as a user, but I'm firmly against any company or city that lets users dump crap on the streets without penalties. It's littering.
Assuming you live in SF, I'm not sure why you're not worried more about the people peeing on your wall, tossing their shoes or random garbage on your driveway more. Bikes being dropped off at a public sidewalk sounds like less of a problem than these.
I can care about more than one thing at a time. Human refuse in my streets is a problem I deal with, and so is dockless transit.
When they come back they'll be $3 for the first 20 minutes just like the Uber bikes in SF now.
Was that actually confirmed or just alleged?
End result, people going back to Uber/Lyft to get around. Shocking that traffic in SF is as bad as it's ever been.
JUMP bikes in SF didn’t work for me most of the time. I would see one, but it wouldn’t let me take it. It worked about maybe 2 out of 6 times I tried. And as I said, the one I just locked with full battery and came back after an hour just wasn’t unlocking without a reasonable error message either. It makes me think there’s a secret reason they don’t let people unlock the bikes (they also don’t show up on the map).
Boston has Bluebikes (e: seems like it's a partnership with Motivate?), also pretty cheap. A lot of people I knew in Boston had some kind of discounted rate through their employer where they got unlimited complimentary 30-minute rides.
I've never used a GoBike, but are those prices real & what are the typical usage patterns?
Edit: I see, there are monthly and yearly plans that make it much more competitive with ownership. Great!
You used to only be able to purchase 1-day, 3-day, or 5-day passes, it was about the same price as long as you used it at least twice a day. At $2 per ride, it's much more flexible, so you can choose transit or bikes depending on the weather or whatever.
I see you've updated your post, but for completeness I'll list their plans (from https://www.lyft.com/bikes/bay-wheels/pricing):
Monthly no-commitment is $15 and you get unlimited 45-minute rentals. If I go work downtown for a week even, I'd get this. 45 minutes is great for a little after work exploration. When I'm in SF for business, I often bike somewhere after work (along the Embarcadero, Market street, South Beach, or around Chinatown), then drop off the bike, walk around some more, get food, then get another bike back to my hotel.
Edited to add: looks like they now have docking stations in the Haight-Ashbury, so you could get a bike to Golden Gate park, switch bikes, have 45 min around the park, and switch again to get back downtown.
Annual is $149 per year for unlimited 45-minute rentals. That is really cheap for a maintenance-free bike whenever you're in the city. I used to commute with my bike on Caltrain, and this would make it not worth the hassle (depends on how you get to your home station and how close your office is to one of their docking stations).
Also, monthly and annual plans might be paid for by your employer as part of your transit benefits.
I used the SF bikes multiple times over several years, and I did run into empty docks once or twice. But usually bikes were available and usable. More than once I ran into the person who maintained and moved bikes. They had a trailer with 2-3 bikes pulled by an e-bike--I thought that was a really great idea (as opposed to a van that ran n gas and would block the bike lane during loading and unloading).
I decided to take the membership and use the bikes for short trips within SF. I figured I've saved more that $100 in Uber/Lyft rides in the last year (+ it's healthier, better for the environment etc)
I'm confused why the company would take this on as part of some larger strategic plan.
I was an early subscriber given how cheap it was, but I often struggled to find a bike that worked.
Bike Share Toronto is heavily subsidized by the city and Ontario, and operates at a loss: https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2019/02/28/bike-share...
These seem to be be "docked". Wasn't Lime's problem that they were "dockless" and wound up being trash everywhere?
You could be right, though, and I'm only guessing.
My comment was that I thought that Lime stopped because they couldn't make the dockless work because the bikes wound up as trash everywhere. Your comment brings nothing to that discussion.
I have no problem with these services taking up a parking space every block or two in order to put in a dock.
This reeks of intelligence signaling, and isn't an argument.
> an urban context
Yes, in an urban context, where one lives close enough to work and other conveniences, and one happens to have a shower in their office building. Most people don't live that close to work and they don't want to constantly show up to work sweaty. Bicycling certainly does work for same people, but it's not practical or sustainable for most people.
What do you think is going to happen in a scenario where most people are bicycling everywhere? They'd potentially spend just as much time on the road as they would in car traffic, have to constantly dodge other bikes and vehicles, and city officials would make them pay for parking.
People don't want to experience riding a bike day in and day out. Cars are a bestseller for a reason. If riding a bicycle was as obvious as you think it is, more people would be doing it.
> On a macro level cars are fundamentally incompatible with density because there is literally not enough space in a city for everyone to store and drive their cars.
And yet most cities are able to make it work with cars.
You made the claim that bikes were obsolete in “every way”.
Most cities do not make it work with cars. In actual cities (not giant suburbs like Houston or Phoenix) a large fraction of the population does not drive or own a car.
> What do you think is going to happen in a scenario where most people are bicycling everywhere? They'd potentially spend just as much time on the road as they would in car traffic, have to constantly dodge other bikes and vehicles, and city officials would make them pay for parking.
Do you really not grasp the fact that bikes take up less space than cars. If people switched from cars to bikes there would be far less congestion.
Can't find the source I read this in originally, but will keep looking.
- City buses. Slow and predictable.
- Normal passenger vehicles.
- Lyft/Uber. Will often swerve right in front of me while they're pulling over. (Presumably because they're watching their phone to make sure they're dropping off in the right spot, or watching the sidewalk looking for their next fare.)
- Large pickup trucks. Not sure if it's the ride height that gives you the illusion you're further away or just a personality trait of their drivers, but a disproportionate number of my close calls are pickup trucks blasting by at high speed with no clearance.
- Old beater cars with dents/stuff falling off. These drivers can behave very unpredictably.
Such model would kill Uber/Lyft overnight - they would not be able to adjust to that model because then their stocks would be cut down 95%. However, it is a win-to-win situation to both drivers and ride-takers - drivers get paid more and more stays in their pocket, while takers can chose if the ride is affordable, and at over 50% cheaper than what Lyft/Uber charge, it sure would be!
Uber and Lyft have proven that drivers and riders don't want to think particularly hard. They want a magic button that either a) makes a car show up or b) feeds them customers.
As for the business side, there's no good reason to think that this would even cut costs on Uber's side -- they still need to maintain all of their lobbying costs, their server and engineer costs to maintain the bidding app, their marketing costs, etc.