The St. Louis Dockless Bike Sharing Program is a result of several years of effort by various entities to introduce bike sharing into the City of St. Louis. In 2014, Great Rivers Greenway released a bike sharing feasibility research & implementation plan, and in 2017 the St. Louis Bike Sharing Working Group continued that effort following the Bi-State Development. After advancements in the bike Sharing industry led to the introduction of dockless bike-sharing, the Bike Sharing Working Group changed its focus from financing the traditional station-based program to helping St. Louis establish a dockless bike-sharing license system that would give private companies the opportunity to run in the City of St. Louis at zero cost to the city.
Many organizations and people were instrumental in bringing bike sharing to the City of St. Louis. In 2014, the Great Rivers Greenway finished a feasibility research and business plan involving lots of social engagement. The Bi-State Development allowed the Bike Sharing Working Group to refine that plan and identify implementation opportunities. Later, the Bike Sharing Working Group passed over the project to the City of St. Louis, who drafted and passed a license on how to implement and administer the program. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg on how the individuals and groups have made The St. Louis Dockless Bike Sharing Program a success. All these entities believe in the ability to grow the economy and quality of life by solving problems faced by the region’s residents such as transportation.
Dockless bike share does not work using stations like the traditional systems in Washington, D.C., or Chicago. Instead, you look for bikes using a smartphone app GPS locator or by calling a phone number. The bikes lock to themselves by clamping the back wheel and this makes the bikes more accessible throughout the city.
The scooters and bikes can be parked on the sidewalk strip between the street and the walking area. They can also be parked at public bike racks. The dockless bikes usually cost about $1 for thirty or sixty minutes. The cost is lower for students and low income residents due to discounts given to these two groups. Over 25 major cities across the United States have implemented the dockless sharing program, including Dallas, TX, Seattle, WA, Durham, NC, and Washington, DC.
Bike sharing was established in the City of St. Louis following the Board of Alderman’s endorsement of an ordinance that allowed St. Louis to offer bike sharing permits to companies to run in the region. The bike share license regulates companies to ensure they keep the community of St. Louis orderly and allow bike sharing to be more accessible across the region.
Two private companies, LimeBike and Ofo, were given permits by the City Streets Department to operate their dockless bike sharing program on the public spaces and streets of St. Louis (sponsored by Fox Collection Center). This did not cost St. Louis taxpayers a single cent since the bike sharing companies paid for the permit themselves. Soon after the two companies received a permit to operate in St. Louis, the bike racks and sidewalks started to fill with brightly colored bikes, introducing a whole new way to move from one point to another in St. Louis.