Coronado moves forward with plan to impound dockless bikes

The city of Coronado on Wednesday rolled out plans to impound dockless bikes left behind in public spots.

City Manager Blair King said Tuesday that bike-sharing companies would be charged a $45 fee for each impounded bicycle.

He said that was the quickest and easiest option to “get the bikes out” of Coronado, where bike-sharing companies have not been given the green light to operate.

“We’re hoping that the companies get the message,” King said of the planned enforcement efforts.

Bike-sharing companies have stressed they are not stationing the bicycles in Coronado. Their bikes have ended up in the city regardless — via the Coronado ferry from San Diego and Silver Strand Boulevard in Imperial Beach.

Although the city had considered issuing citations to bike-sharing companies, King said that option would create “a greater workload.” However, he did not rule that out as a future enforcement tool.

On Tuesday, two representatives with ofo, one of several companies whose dockless bikes have appeared in Coronado, asked the City Council for 45 days to implement a plan to address the problem.

Ana Wan Christie, ofo’s general manager in San Diego, said her company already has been “ramping up the number of sweeps” to remove bikes from Coronado and looking at internal data to determine the locations where users are renting the bikes left behind in Coronado to no longer station bicycles in those areas.

She added that the Coronado ferry plans to post signs on both sides of the ferry landing to ask people not to ditch dockless bikes in Coronado.

The City Council did not take action on the issue on Tuesday; it simply heard from King about the enforcement strategy city staff had devised.

Under the plan, police officers who spot a dockless bike in a public spot — streets, sidewalks, alleys, parks or beaches — will tag the handlebar with a notice to remove the bicycle within two hours.

If the company that owns the bicycle does not do so, the bike will be impounded.

Ofo representatives have expressed concerns about the two-hour time frame, saying it is too narrow for them to respond. On Tuesday, King responded at the City Council meeting by saying the bikes are GPS-enabled and companies can track the location of the bikes left behind in Coronado at any time.

“It is our understanding that … the owners know where (the bikes) are right now,” he said. “Rather than coming to council meetings, we would prefer that they go collect the bikes.”

He suggested that companies remove the bikes early mornings before Public Services workers impound the bicycles.

The City Council in December denied LimeBike and other bike-sharing companies permits to operate. Since bike-sharing companies began to flood the region a month or so ago, the dockless bikes have popped up in Coronado, where residents and business owners have voiced concerns about discarded bikes cluttering public areas and hurting business.

The bikes can be rented using a smartphone app for $1 or $2 and lock in place when they are not in use.

Email: david.hernandez@sduniontribune.com

Phone: (619) 293-1876

Twitter: @D4VIDHernandez

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