'Today’s Dockless Bike-Sharing Systems Are Wild Systems'

Dockless bikes offer the unexpected and help users navigate and understand the urban environment in new and different ways.

2 minute read

February 16, 2020, 11:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

Dockless Bikeshare

Steven Depolo / Flickr

In an excerpt from the new book The Urban Improvise: Improvisation-Based Design for Hybrid Cities, Kristian Kloeckl reflects on the role of dockless bike systems as part of the urban landscape. He looks at the changes in bikeshare program from Amsterdam’s White Bicycle Plan in the 1960s to today’s digital and highly connected networks.

Dockless bikes offer the openness and freedom to make new and more spontaneous travel decisions, says Kloeckl. "When you see a bike in plain sight or virtually on a digital map, you walk up to it, unlock it with your smartphone, and start riding it, to then leave it parked at any spot. It is a strength of the system that it is so inviting and easily accessible; people come up with new ways of integrating these bikes into their daily routines that they themselves did not consider before."

Dockless bikesharing is not without its issues — missing and abandoned bikes or bikes left outside of the system’s boundaries, for example. But this uncertainty is also what fuels the possibilities, argues Kloeckl.

"The dockless bike-sharing system is in constant flux. Bikes are parked in different locations all the time, and the system, in this way, is capable of adapting to changing conditions of traffic, housing, residency, and so on. Precisely because there are no predetermined docking stations, the parked bike locations remain relevant in the context of constantly changing urban conditions, as the locations are an expression of actual use," adds Kloeckl.

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