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Miami Beach Cracks Down on "Rogue" Bike-Sharing Startup LimeBike

Miami Beach Cracks Down on "Rogue" Bike-Sharing Startup LimeBike

Postby smix » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:40 pm

Miami Beach Cracks Down on "Rogue" Bike-Sharing Startup LimeBike
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami ... ke-9489640
Category: Politics
Published: July 13, 2017

Description: Miami Beach's Citi Bike rental program is extremely simple: You pay a small fee, pick a bike off a rack, and ride it to another rack and leave it there. LimeBike, a Silicon Valley startup, is trying to streamline that process even further by removing the need for bike racks. You simply leave the bike on the sidewalk when you're done, and the brakes lock automatically. But if you leave a LimeBike on the street in Miami Beach, there's a good chance the city might confiscate it. According to a letter City Manager Jimmy Morales sent the city commission July 7, LimeBikes have increasingly popped up across Miami Beach. And rather than welcome a bit of new competition and applaud the company's attempt at technical innovation, city code enforcement has already begun issuing LimeBike $1,000 fines and is threatening to seize the company's bikes if they're left out in public. "On July 5, 2017, the city received a report from CitiBike of a potential rogue bike-sharing operation taking place on Michigan Avenue near Lincoln Road," Morales wrote. "'Limebike' was identified as an unauthorized bike-sharing operation." It's unclear how the LimeBikes ended up in Miami Beach, but signs point to nearby Key Biscayne, which last month became the first U.S. city to officially roll out a LimeBike program. But as new bike-sharing companies sprout around the nation, the battle shows that the bike-sharing world, much like the ridesharing and home-sharing "industries" before them, are becoming increasingly crowded, and more than a few turf wars might be imminent. The Beach's Citi Bike — which launched as Deco Bike in Miami Beach in 2011 before being renamed in 2014 — is a private company that contracts with Miami Beach and the City of Miami, and likely isn't too happy to see an allegedly cheaper bike-sharing program pop up in town. According to Morales, because Citi Bike is Miami Beach's "duly authorized exclusive bike-sharing provider," any other service that tries to operate a similar program is apparently illegal. Any new bike-share, after all, would cut into the Citi Bike business model and sap tax revenue from Miami Beach. Also, LimeBike's cycles just sit in the middle of sidewalks, parks, and city streets when they're not in use. Their presence makes it difficult to walk through town, especially during crowded events. And it's against the city's laws to block sidewalks with parked bikes. According to city documents, this counts as a "right-of-way" violation and will earn you a $1,000 fine. Morales' letter also accuses LimeBike of operating without proper business tax receipts. Violating those rules also brings a $1,000 code-enforcement fine. The city warned that any LimeBikes left loitering in the public right-of-way will be impounded. Someone snapped a photo of LimeBikes congregating conspicuously near a Michigan Avenue Citi Bike stop.


LimeBike's spokespeople didn't immediately respond to messages from New Times. But the startup has garnered tons of positive press lately: LimeBike received an influx of cash from billionaire Silicon Valley über-investor Marc Andreessen and has been partnering with other Silicon Valley buzz-companies such as the office-sharing company WeWork, online shopping site Zulily, and web-development teaching academy Galvanize to provide bikes for their workers. According to Miami's the New Tropic, two Key Biscayne moms who lived in high-rise apartment complexes — and found it too annoying to cart their bikes up and down the elevators — were the ones who pushed the city to partner with LimeBike. (Key Biscayne will use the LimeBike revenue to fund charity programs in Liberty City.) LimeBike claims its system is cheaper for cities to adopt because municipalities need to pay for only the bikes themselves, not to install and maintain locking bike racks. Riders instead find usable bikes via the LimeBike app, unlock the bikes with their phones, and then pay at the end of the ride based on the amount of ground they covered. LimeBike is battling another, nearly identical sharing startup, Spin, for an operating license in Seattle. Somehow at least five LimeBikes made it into Miami Beach, according to the city's photograph. But if you cross into Miami Beach's NIMBY-reactionary confines and begin blocking off a sidewalk or two, you can expect a visit from the city's overzealous code enforcement department. (That's also the group tasked with issuing $20,000 fines to homeowners caught renting out their properties on Airbnb.) The city also hasn't always endeared itself to regular cyclists since the Citi Bike program was rolled out. Miami Beach has tried to paint itself as a bike-friendly town, but it began threatening to confiscate bikes locked onto city street signs or light poles. The city started tweeting out photos of illegally (but reasonably) parked bikes, warning riders to "Move it or lose it!" The city later said it was threatening only riders who had locked their bikes near Lincoln Road, where biking is banned, but that didn't stop a stream of residents online from complaining there aren't nearly enough bike racks around the city.

As Miami Beach Cracks Down on Bike Parking, Citi Bikes Get Preferential Treatment, Resident Claims
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/as-mi ... ms-8640336
category: Politics
Published: August 1, 2016

Description: Jacob Alkov chained his Schwinn to a loading zone sign at Lincoln Road and Pennsylvania Avenue several weeks ago. It was a Sunday and, he says, all the racks in the area were already loaded with bicycles. When he returned, a sticker was affixed to his ride. “Park your bicycle at a nearby bike rack to avoid having your bike impounded and taken to the Miami Beach Police Department,” it read. “Fines may also be imposed.” Alkov, who has lived in Miami Beach for 20 years, has long used a bike as his main form of transportation because it's “less of a headache” than trying to find a place to park. But the 49-year-old now says he feels like the City of Miami Beach is discriminating against certain types of bicycles. As Miami Beach pushes cyclists to lock up only on approved racks, Alkov claims that riders on Citi Bikes — the publicly available rentals stationed throughout the city — can get away with parking anywhere they want. Not only has he spotted the rentals on Lincoln Road, where bikes are banned (and provided photos of those bikes to New Times), but he says the riders also don’t have to worry about parking because Citi Bike racks are all over the place. “The point is, if the city is treating everybody the same way, why do they have thousands of Citi Bike racks for the Citi Bikes?” Alkov asks. “They have to give a thousand bike racks for people in the city [who ride their own bikes] to be fair.”


But Melissa Berthier, a spokeswoman for the city, says there are more than 100 bike racks near Lincoln Road, with no shortage of space. She says the ordinances that ban bikes from Lincoln Road and require the use of bike racks are enforced for all kinds of bikes — and Citi Bikes are no exception. “I can tell you we treat Citi Bike the same,” Berthier says. The city's crackdown on bike parking has been a contentious move. Earlier this year, the city tweeted that cyclists should “Move it or lose it,” meaning they should secure their bikes to racks instead of street signs, parking meters, or anything else. Otherwise, they’d risk having the bike impounded for “illegal parking,” the city cautioned. An online firestorm followed, with scores of people saying the city doesn’t have enough bike racks to take such a stance. But Berthier says friendly reminders such as the one Alkov received seem to have solved the illegal parking problem: No bikes have been impounded. The city hasn’t tracked the number of reminders given out. Alkov says his reminder felt far from friendly, though. He says he's become almost afraid to take his bike out. “Why are they chasing me?” he asks. “I put my bike on a sign. So what?”

Miami Beach Threatens to Confiscate Bikes Locked to Street Signs, Twitter Goes Berserk
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami ... rk-8244565
Category: Politics
Published: February 11, 2016

Description: Miami Beach has spent much of February touting its plans to become a more bike-friendly city and splashing bright green paint on one prominent bike lane. So it was curious that today the city's official Twitter account promised aggressive action against cyclists who dare to lock up to a street sign. In a series of tweets Thursday, the city of Miami Beach threatened to tag and seize bikes that are “illegally parked,” such as on stop signs or street poles. “Move it or lose it,” the tweet reads.
These are not legal parking spots. We'll be tagging bikes that are illegally parked. Move it or lose it #MiamiBeach

— City of Miami Beach (@MiamiBeachNews) February 11, 2016

The threat sparked a heated discussion on Twitter, with dozens of residents demanding that the city provide more options for bicycle parking. Sure, locking bikes to signs is technically illegal — but so is jaywalking, rolling through stop signs, and a hundred other common behaviors in South Beach.
@MiamiBeachNews what the fuck kind of city asks residents to move it or lose it? No wonder southerners hate govt, it's not in their favor. — James Cooper (@cascade_cooper) February 11, 2016

@MiamiBeachNews what problems are those bikes causing? I'm asking sincerely. Blocking access for people with disabilities? — Peter (@pkkilkel) February 11, 2016

Politico writers Marc Caputo and Mike Grunwald both jumped into the fray, pointing out how hard it already is to cycle in South Beach and how many more parking options there are than safe biking routes.
You MANDATE 1.5 parking spaces for every condo. But you expect us to walk our bikes to the only bike racks. — Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) February 11, 2016

There are hardly any bike racks. Plenty of parking garages though. — Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) February 11, 2016

Want to see supreme bureaucratic arrogance in action (inaction)? See @MiamiBeachNews v @MikeGrunwald — Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) February 11, 2016

The city wouldn't back down, though. Among the city's more confusing responses: that cyclists in South Beach should park their bikes on Lincoln Road — where biking has been banned for several years.
@MikeGrunwald so empty. so lonely. park your bike legally & safely in one of our racks. — City of Miami Beach (@MiamiBeachNews) February 11, 2016

Those bike racks are empty and lonely because they are LOCATED ON A STREET WHERE YOU BANNED BIKING! — Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) February 11, 2016

@MiamiBeachNews @MarcACaputo so put car parks in places driving is banned. See the problem? You seriously think it's ok? — reachingout (@MeReachingout) February 11, 2016

Ironically, the aggressive Twitter conversation followed recent moves by the city to market itself as Miami-Dade’s friendliest for pedestrians and cyclists. Just last week, the city kicked off a project to upgrade existing bike infrastructure by painting bike lanes across South Beach green. The city is currently painting the green lanes on 16th Street from Washington Avenue to Alton Road, which it expects to finish in the next two weeks.


“We hope to be the pioneer in the county for projects for pedestrians and bicycles,” says Xavier Falconi, Miami Beach Transportation Planner. According to Falconi, it's all part of a "prioritization strategy," to put pedestrians as priority number one, bikes and buses two and cars three. Over the coming months, similar green lanes will appear across South Beach, Falconi says, on Alton Road, from South Pointe Drive to 5th Street, including South Pointe Drive from Alton Road to Ocean Drive; Prairie Avenue from 28th Street to 44th Street; Royal Palm Avenue from 42nd Street to 47th Street; and 47th Street from Pine Tree Drive to Alton Road. Next month, the Miami Beach City Commission is expected to adopt a Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan & Street Design Guide, which makes recommendations for a range of bicycle improvement projects, including greenways, protected bike lanes and separated paths. According to Falconi, the protected lanes are next on the list. “It’s taken a while for us to get here,” Falconi says, “but there is new momentum for bicycle safety in Miami Beach.”
Update 5:30 pm: The city has sent New Times a statement to "clarify" their Tweets, explaining that only bikes along Lincoln Road received citations:
We wanted to clarify that we are only tagging bikes with a warning stating that their bike is illegally parked on either Lincoln Road or Ocean Drive. This is not happening citywide. This is part of a city ordinance section 70-69b of the Miami Beach city code.
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