The Bikeshare Planning Guide

Implementing a
Privately-Operated System

For systems operated by one or more private companies under a permit or other regulatory
structure, implementation can begin once the written requirements have been approved by
the relevant governing bodies and staff is prepared to begin processing permit applications.
Seattle’s permit requirements went into effect on June 30, 2017 and the first two approved
operators had bikes on the ground two weeks later—not even three months after Seattle’s
station-based system ceased operations.

Prior to implementation, bikeshare management staff should be hired and briefed on permit
application requirements, and strategize about how best to field-verify operator data. Systems
should also be in place to begin monitoring approved operator compliance, and staff should
consider enacting a warning or probationary period that allows operators to adjust to meet
requirements, if necessary, before being fined for non-compliance.

Washington, DC’s Department of Transportation released this educational infographic comparing using Capital Bikeshare, dockless bikeshare, or a personal bike in the city. Credit: District Department of Transportation (DDOT)

As city staff processes and approves permits, staff members responsible for bikeshare outreach should simultaneously conduct educational campaigns about how bikeshare works and the new mobility options it provides to the local community. As operators are awarded permits, they may launch social media campaigns or test-ride events that the city should support and promote, when appropriate, to encourage bikeshare ridership.

Following the official launch of bikes on the street (or launches, in the case of multiple private operators), city staff should consistently monitor operations and enforce requirements (see subsection 4.2.3: Monitoring and Enforcing Policies for more) to minimize negative outcomes.

Collection of data on how bikeshare is benefiting the city (explained in greater detail in subsection 8.3.1: Key Performance Indicators) and to analyze the effectiveness of current regulations (see subsection 4.2.4: Evaluate and Adjust Policies over Time) should also be coordinated. Any major adjustments to permit requirements should be clearly communicated to all operators with sufficient notice about when the requirement will go into effect and time given to meet new standards without being penalized.


Interested in learning more about optimizing dockless bikeshare for cities? Check out ITDP's dockless bikeshare policy brief.

View Policy Brief