Dockless bikes discussed in DC neighborhood town hall

D.C.'s new dockless bikes are brightly colored and often found everywhere they are not supposed to be -- blocking sidewalks or found on the grounds of national monuments.

The issues with the District's pilot program administered by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) were the topic of a town hall bringing together several neighborhoods in Ward 2 Tuesday night.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in the Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom and Georgetown neighborhoods organized the meeting, seeking complaints and ideas from neighbors as well as information from DDOT, and representatives of all five dockless bike companies operating in the District.

"You do see a significant number of bikes that are just parked on the sidewalk with, from what I have been able to tell, no recourse whatsoever," said Caroline De Luca, a resident of Georgetown.

DDOT says it is running the pilot until May and will make a final decision about the dockless bikes after analyzing data from the trial period.

"With dockless bikes, you don't have to lock it to something," said Sam Zimbabwe, who oversees the dockless bike program for DDOT. "Most of them self-lock, and so we didn't know exactly the right way to regulate that. So that is why our demonstration period, we are trying to learn from how people are doing it, where the problems are arising and figure out the right regulatory approach going forward."

Many neighbors were concerned about the bikes seemingly littering neighborhoods, blocking streets and presenting hazards for people with disabilities.

Representatives from the companies say the bikes have numbers on them to call their local teams who pick up bikes that are causing a nuisance. They also say the majority of the users park the bikes correctly.

DDOT and neighbors are anxious to see how the bikes fair in the winter weather, which could help determine if DDOT gives the project long-term approval.

In the meantime, DDOT is asking people who come across improperly parked dockless bikes to contact the companies directly and let DDOT know as well.