On Wednesday, China-based bikeshare company Mobike confirmed that after several months of operations it is leaving D.C. before a city-run pilot program for dockless bikes and scooters ends at the end of August. The company says it is collecting its orange and silver bikes and will refund customers who prepaid for rides.
Mobike Vice President of North America Operations Chris Martin told WAMU that the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) 400-vehicle-per-operator limit hindered the company’s growth.
“We probably should’ve [ended it] even sooner,” Martin told the radio station, without foreclosing the possibility that Mobike could one day return to D.C. if regulations change. He said the pilot program rules were more restrictive than those in other American cities.
Mobike is the second dockless operator to announce this week that it is quitting the District. On Tuesday, Ofo—which, like Mobike, is based in China—said it could not sustain its operations in D.C. and would instead focus its efforts on a few “viable” markets in the U.S.
DDOT’s pilot program (dubbed the “Dockless Demonstration Project” by the city) launched last September and was extended this past spring. A spokesman for DDOT says the agency plans to evaluate the results of the program in the coming weeks and incorporate feedback from people who participated in a survey about shared, dockless bikes and scooters in May.
Five other companies joined DDOT’s test period: Jump, Spin, Skip (formerly Waybots), Limebike, and Bird. For its part, Skip, which provides electric scooters, says it isn’t going anywhere.
“We’re excited not just to stay in D.C. but to expand our service in collaboration with DDOT and serve more of the city’s residents and visitors,” says Sanjay Dastoor, Skip’s CEO and cofounder, who added that the company recently received a permit to operate in Portland.
A spokesman for Uber, which acquired Jump earlier this year, says Jump intends to stay in D.C. “for the long haul” and is eager to work with the city government.
Curbed DC has reached out to the other companies about their plans and will update this post should they provide comment.
Some transit-minded residents are wondering what comes next for the companies.
In the District, new entrants to the bike-share market must compete for riders with the regional Capital Bikeshare program, which kicked off in 2010 and now has about 4,300 bikes across more than 500 stations, as well as a significant number of people who own and commute with their own bikes.
“We had a huge expectation and ambition to make it work,” Mobike’s Martin told the Washington Post.
This post has been updated with comment from Jump.
- Two Dockless Bikeshare Companies Have Left D.C., One Citing Tight Regulations [WAMU]
- Dockless bike-share company withdraws from D.C., citing ‘strategic restructuring’ [Curbed DC]
- With Permits Granted, Hundreds of E-Scooters Are Hitting Portland Streets Later This Week [Willamette Week]
- Uber acquires bike-share startup JUMP [TechCrunch]
- How Washington, D.C., Built a Bike Boom [CityLab]
- Mobike becomes second dockless bike operator to pull out of D.C. [Washington Post]