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Thread: Seeing non-CaBi dockless bikes using CaBi docks (seen at Roosevelt Island), Thoughts

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    Default Seeing non-CaBi dockless bikes using CaBi docks (seen at Roosevelt Island), Thoughts

    Yesterday evening, Roosevelt Island Capital Bikeshare station looked like this:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	JUMP bikes parked in Capital Bikeshare station - Roosevelt Island - April 17 2021 - 1.jpg 
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    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	JUMP bikes parked in Capital Bikeshare station - Roosevelt Island - April 17 2021 - 2.jpg 
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    If the resolution of these pictures doesn't work for you, I'll explain what you're seeing:

    Dockless non-CaBi (JUMP/Lime) bikes parked in CaBi docks.

    This, friends, is what the economists would call a freerider problem.

    The dockless companies pay none of the infrastructure but often still get benefits from the anchoring presence of the stations. I mean, generally speaking the most common place you'll find dockless e-bikes is at or around CaBi stations. This also applies to electric scooters. In this case at Roosevelt Island last night, it's even more extreme because they're actually using CaBi parking slots outright and no doubt deceiving some people.

    (The non-CaBi bikes/scooters more often than not ending up at or near CaBi stations proves, to me, that stations are the key part of bikeshare/CaBi and its success. Offering predictability and for some people some psychological safety ["it's okay for me to be doing this, a station is here"] and anchoring the system. And in principle a person with a key could use the CaBi system completely without a phone, or with a dead phone, if he simply knows where origin and destination stations are, and that is largely what the system used to be before they got around to introducing the first app in, I think, 2016 and is still how many use the system, I think.)

    ____________

    Coming from the south, Saturday evening, approaching the plaza area around the footbridge to Roosevelt Island, I saw two boys about age 10 or 11 riding (not very well, wobbling) on two other JUMP bikes. (Not sure how they got them because is in theory there is an age limit.) Slowing down and passing them, I came up to the bikeshare station and could only laugh: Four more of these dockless JUMP bikes, the same as the two boys were on, were 'docked' in CaBi docks. This is the boldest case of the "dockless bike freeriding" I've seen and made sure to get a picture.

    I've seen rows of e-scooters in front of stations before, and even dockless e-bikes sitting in front of stations, but I don't recall ever seeing JUMP bikes actually 'docked' in CaBi stations like this. You'll notice there is also a blue "Revel" moped in the back, also parked at the CaBi station for much the same reason. In theory, AFAIK, they can be parked anywhere, but whoever did it still ended up at the bikeshare station.

    Since the most likely people to be using this particular station are 'tourists'/visitors, they often won't know anything's unusual about this and will just take the dockless bikes, scanning them with phones, paying into Uber (or whoever now owns/runs these other JUMP bikes) instead of Capital Bikeshare who paid for and maintains the station.

    (I can only wonder who 'did' it. As I think about it, it's possible some well-meaning person saw a pile of dockless e-bikes near the Roosevelt Island bikeshare station, a common-enough sight, and thought he or she was doing a good deed by properly putting them in the docks.)

    There are thirteen bikeshare docks at this station; the map was showing five bikes available and eight parking slots available, but in fact three to five JUMP bikes were occupying half of those available slots (three are visible in my picture plus possibly the two being used by the boys aforementioned).

    _____________

    Roosevelt Island station should ideally IMHO really should be something like doubled from its current thirteen slots to twenty-five slots to meet tourist/visitor demand. I have a feeling this is one of the stations where there is a surprising number of excess demand over supply (lost potential trips), but concentrated very much to tourist peaks rather than daily users.

    The station generally goes full/empty on good-weather weekends/holidays, and is far enough both in walked-distance and psychologically from any other station that few or no casual tourist-type visitors are going to trek up to Rosslyn just to get a bike.

    Also anecdotally, on the good-weather days of April 2021 so far, on the times I've passed by the place, I've noticed a surprisingly big surge in Roosevelt-Island-goers. I presume these are people finally fed up of lockdowns etc and trying to make up for lost time. They've been parked all over the grass and all. The Capital Bikeshare station has been well used but often one can find more non-CaBi bikes and scooters than CaBi bikes, though that is a general problem throughout the system (to the extent it is a problem, though I don't imagine many would argue that JUMP 'stealing' CaBi slots is not a problem!).
    Last edited by Yule; 04-18-2021 at 12:44 PM.

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    Hi Yule, I help manage bikeshare and scootershare for the County so thank you for sharing this photo. NPS does not allow dockless e-bike and e-scootershare parking on their property but I will check to see why these bikes fell through the cracks.

    We are replacing Roosevelt Island's equipment with a slightly larger station (17 docks) sometime in the next few months.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack View Post
    NPS does not allow dockless e-bike and e-scootershare parking on their property but I will check to see why these bikes fell through the cracks.
    Really? Given the numbers of dockless bikes and scooters scattered all around (and often on) the MVT and East and West Potomac Parks (and elsewhere on NPS land), I wonder what they do to stop it.
    [I think NPS should pick them up and up and fine the companies for hazardous waste (the batteries) and storage fees until they pick them up. It will help the companies take it seriously and help fund NPS!]

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrP View Post
    Really? Given the numbers of dockless bikes and scooters scattered all around (and often on) the MVT and East and West Potomac Parks (and elsewhere on NPS land), I wonder what they do to stop it.
    [I think NPS should pick them up and up and fine the companies for hazardous waste (the batteries) and storage fees until they pick them up. It will help the companies take it seriously and help fund NPS!]
    Related but unrelated: NPS launched a dockless scooter parking pilot program with DDOT to provide designated parking areas on/around the Mall. https://www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvis...er-parking.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack View Post
    NPS does not allow dockless e-bike and e-scootershare parking on their property but I will check to see why these bikes fell through the cracks.
    I think that whenever I've cruised past the Roosevelt Island CaBi station, which is not often, there have been non-CaBi dockless ebikes and e-scooters there at the station (and usually nowhere else).

    I can also say that non-CaBi bikes/scooters outnumber the CaBi bikes around the station most times I've gone by. Especially on good-weather weekend/holiday-type days when people going to Roosevelt Island predictably create high demand for such things. It must be that people think the station is a proper place to drop off. I don't think I've ever NOT seen some nonCaBi bikes or scooters there.

    There have been a few cases I remember of an empty Roosevelt Island Station with multiple JUMP (etc.) bikes and e-scooters around the station, so if anyone wanted to take a "small personal vehicle share" (bike or scooter), they'd be paying into the other guys and not CaBi, despite CaBi's heavy infrastructure investment of the station.

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    We are replacing Roosevelt Island's equipment with a slightly larger station (17 docks) sometime in the next few months.
    That is good to hear.

    I am positive that CaBi planners have thought of all this, but I just wanted to put some thoughts to digital paper here:

    It would seem to me that demand on the stations at Roosevelt Island and Gravelly Point (and a potential Arlington Cemetery Station) are unique in the system in Arlington because they are: (1) more inelastic in demand (meaning people there will tend to either use those stations to get a bike or give up on the idea if none are available, NOT shift their 'demand' to another station), (2) seasonal (dependent on weather/day-of-week, creating relative demand surges more in relative terms than, I'd think, a typical station's), and (3) higher-profit-to-the-system (higher share of non-member users) than, say, any of the stations in the Rosslyn area or really most other areas.

    If a station is full or empty at Rosslyn, there are other stations practically within eyesight which you can go to to dock or get a bike. Not so for Roosevelt Island and Gravelley Point users. The actual walked distance to the next station is one reason, but I think it's going to be an even bigger psychological barrier. Few of the potential people taking bikes at Roosevelt Island are regular bike/bikeshare users, often not familiar with the area, and unwilling to just wander into an unknown area in search of a bike.

    I remember the Bike Angel point system. It is ruled by algorithm and didn't seem to understand Roosevelt Island. When Roosevelt would go full or empty, it thought no big deal. The algorithm's programmed thinking being: "Oh, look, the crow-flies distance to this ither station at Lynn St & 19th St North, nearest Key Bridge, is so close; demand to dock or take a bike from Roosevelt Island will shift there; so I'm marking this low-priority. We won't pay many Bike Angel points, no big deal."). Because of the unique kind of (inelastic) demand and the deceptive proximity (it only seems close if you are running on an algorithm -- there is nothing like a straight line from Roosevelt Island to Rosslyn as if it was all a street grid), this was wrong.

    That problem ends up hurting the system as follows:

    I remember several cases in late 2018 (when the station was very new) and 2019. This excess of demand over supply would happen often. I remember seeing tourists on CaBi bikes staring at the full station, puzzled at what to do. An obvious case of demand-exceeding-supply. Meanwhile the Bike Angel system thought it was worth one point. These people, unable to dock, inevitably would get frustrated, not know what to do, try to contact the help-line; some might abandon the bikes, without docking near the station; many would end up with a sour taste in their mouths after arguing with someone about overcharges or whatever. Those situations are bad for all (if you read CaBi app reviews on google play store you see people smetimes giving one-star for problems like this) and often come down to demand exceeding supply at especially these tourist-oriented stations.

    (It feels like I've noticed Roosevelt Island gets more demand stress than Gravelley Point in the times I've either passed or noticed the situation on the app map. I can't understand why that would be: Gravelly Point is even more isolated [the only game in town], attracts even more visitors with its much bigger parking lot than Roosevelt Island, and has its station location in an even better location than Roosevelt, but *still* gets less demand pressure -- less often full or empty; so that one is a mystery to me, or maybe my impression is wrong.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LhasaCM View Post
    Related but unrelated: NPS launched a dockless scooter parking pilot program with DDOT to provide designated parking areas on/around the Mall. https://www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvis...er-parking.htm
    Thanks --- Interesting to see their pilot program is ongoing right now and through Memorial Day weekend 2021.

    I clicked the map to see where their dockless e-bike and e-scooter parking zones are. I couldn't see any. You have to zoom in really far to see those things. Tiny and scattered. Some or their 19 designated areas seem next to one of the six CaBi stations they've allowed on the Mall (at least three of the e-scooter parking zones are, afaict, right at the CaBi stations).

    I've been down in the Mall area in the past few weeks and haven't noticed any of them, but then I am not an e-scooter user so maybe their apps direct them to these places. The people dropping off the re-charged scooters by the hundred every day continue to dump them in rows just outside the Mall area, lots lined up along the north side of Constitution Ave, and near CaBi stations of course (CaBi stations also being, rather awkwardly, forced off National Mall land onto the north side of Constitution Ave), sometimes into tight squeezes (19th St & Constitution Ave being one), but clearly serving Mall-going people.

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