Miami-Dade Wants to Crack Down on Shared Bikes Left on Sidewalks and Roads UPDATED

Courtesy of Lime
Update, 7/12: In a statement, Lime says it is supportive of regulations but wants them to be fair and sensible. Read the full statement at the bottom of this post.

Last year, seemingly overnight, hundreds of brightly colored bicycles from companies like Lime and Ofo began popping up everywhere in Miami. Or, as Miami-Dade County Commissioner Javier Souto puts it, the bikes began "descending upon neighborhoods," like some kind of two-wheeled invasive species.

He and other county officials are fed up with rogue bikes they say are wreaking havoc all over the county, blocking sidewalks and tripping people. During a meeting Tuesday, irked commissioners passed not one but three separate resolutions aimed at getting the bike-sharing companies under control.

"We’re not against businesses," Souto said. "We are just for regulation of some that the private business community are getting into stealthily, like in the middle of the night... like undercover."

The resolutions commissioners passed call for stricter enforcement of county rules on unattended bikes left in county rights of way, which include $100 fines and removal by the Department of Transportation and Public Works. The commissioners also asked the county to prepare separate studies on whether to regulate the dockless bike industry and whether to create designated parking areas, which would seem to defeat the whole purpose of dockless bikes.

The latest iteration in bike-sharing, dockless cycles are basically Citi Bikes without the racks. Riders use an app to unlock a bike and then leave it anywhere when they're done. Lime (originally called LimeBike) rolled out last June in Key Biscayne, the first U.S. city to officially launch the service. The California startup has since attracted millions in funding and spread to cities across the country.

But as Lime and a growing number of similar companies — Ofo, Spin, and Mobike, to name a few — compete for turf, several cities are complaining of being overrun by stray bikes. In Dallas, it's enough of an issue that someone made an Instagram account, @dallasbikemess, to document all the random places the bikes end up. 
Dallas sent a letter to the companies demanding they clean up the mess, while other municipalities are capping the number of bikes allowed per company. Chicago mandated that all bikes have the ability to lock to a stationary object, which resulted in Ofo deciding to pull out.

Miami Beach, which has a partnership with Citi Bike, last year declared LimeBike a "rogue" company and started handing out $1,000 fines and threatening to confiscate bikes. Lime later called the dispute a misunderstanding, saying Key Biscayne users had ridden the bikes to Miami Beach.

Miami-Dade County commissioners said they support biking in a region where gridlocked traffic is an everyday reality, with Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava warning against criminalizing dockless bikes. But they said the abandoned bicycles are dangerous — a "life safety issue," Commissioner Joe Martinez said. They swapped stories about their constituents' run-ins with stray bikes, including one man in a wheelchair who found his path to a bus stop blocked.

"We never had problems in the past," Commissioner Rebecca Sosa said. "It's now that it became a business for someone. Okay, I have no problem with businesses coming to Miami as long as they follow the rules. And right now, it's in violation of the rules."

Here's the full statement from Lime:

“For four months, Lime has been excited to serve the residents of unincorporated Miami-Dade with a reliable, environmentally responsible alternative form of transportation through our nearly 400 Lime-Classic and Lime-E bikes found throughout the area. Our team has had an open dialogue with the County and is committed to doing so moving forward. While we are supportive of the creation of regulations to bike sharing programs, we want the commission to make these fair and sensible to where we will be realistically able to best serve Miami-Dade.” – Todd O’Boyle, Lime Director of Strategic Development
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Brittany Shammas is a former staff writer at Miami New Times. She covered education in Naples before taking a job at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She joined New Times in 2016.
Contact: Brittany Shammas