San Diego

Dockless Bikes, Scooters Impact Docked Counterparts: Discover Bike

Discover Bike has a five-year-old partnership with the city set to last another five

With the introduction of dockless bikes and scooters in San Diego, their docked counterparts have hit a bump in the road.

Discover Bike, formerly known as DecoBike, has been in contract with the city for five years, but a spokesperson for the company said the dockless options have made a considerable impact on them.

“Biking sharing and mobility sharing now is a thing everywhere. It’s not just us,” said Andy Hanshaw, executive director of the San Diego County Bicycle Association. “It’s getting better. It’s made a lot of improvements.”

A family from Ohio was visiting San Diego when they opted to try the much-talked-about dockless scooters, passing over the docked bikes.

“Because I don’t have to walk,” Darlene Weaver said on why she made the dockless decision. “This is my first time, I love it. I’m going to ride all over this place.”

Her family echoed her choice, saying they liked the dockless options because you don’t have to pedal on the some of them.

“I would prefer this,” Weaver told NBC 7. “This is small, and I can maneuver it much better.”

In addition, being able to drop off the dockless bikes and scooters anywhere was a plus for Weaver and her family.

“You could drop this off at any corner,” Weaver said.

The docked bikes, however, as their name suggests, are limited in where they can be dropped off. They can only be picked up or returned at existing stations.

“It was meant to be a citywide system where stations were selected … for commuting and getting around,” Hanshaw told NBC 7.

But the docked bikes are now seemingly sparse in some parts of San Diego. According to the Discover Bike’s station map, North Park and University Heights only had six bikes between them, across their eight stations, on Thursday morning.

In Hillcrest, there were zero bikes across its own eight stations, on Thursday morning.

The program initially promised 1,800 bikes across the city, according to David Silverman with Discover Bike. He said only 800 bikes are currently operational.

“Could be how they’re managing their inventory or where they’re putting the bikes to get more rides out of them,” said Hanshaw.

Silverman told NBC 7 the company had to do a lot of maintenance on its docked bikes because of reported vandalism and theft.

Though, Hanshaw said there’s a movement toward dockless options, a docked system can still work.

“If the inventory’s managed correctly, and the stations are placed in the right places,” he said.

A representative with the city said its partnership with Discover Bike will continue. The contract, now half complete, promised the program for 10 years.

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