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Garland-Based VBikes Isn't Concerned About A Potential Future Of Bike-Share Regulation

Molly Evans

Friday’s the deadline the city of Dallas gave bike-share companies to clean up their acts. The Denton City Council is also considering putting some regulations in place. Six months ago, tens of thousands of rental-share bikes began filling North Texas streets and sidewalks. One of the first companies was Garland-based VBikes.  

Though they were the first, VBikes business development manager Karl Haas says they make up a smaller share of the local market. There are about 1,500 silver and yellow bikes in the company's North Texas fleet.

Interview Highlights: Karl Haas

On proposals the city of Denton is considering for rental-bikes:

"Everybody looks to everybody else to form their permitting processes. A lot of people look to Seattle because they were one of the first places bikes showed up. I went to the Denton City Council meeting [this week] and a lot of people are about the free market...Is it the company that brings 10,000 bikes that's going to win? Or are you going to give everyone a fair shake and say, 'You can only have this many bikes'? I think that's where the city of Denton is going right now."

On geo-fencing as an option to reign in bike parking:

"What we have is a device that we can attach to a spot that will show up on our app to [direct users] where to park the bikes, and if you park outside of this, the bike will not be able to lock so you have to get within that spot, or 5 feet of that spot, to lock that bike up or else it's going to continue to charge the rider.

"The great thing about bike share and dockless is that you can park it anywhere. The bad thing about it is that it gets parked anywhere. No matter how much we try to educate people, they're going to set it down, the wind will knock it over, or somebody's going to kick it over. We have no control of that. I think with these corrals, we could work with the city where it's a virtual parking spot."

On the complaints about "urban clutter":

"When we get 311 calls, we respond within two hours, so not having 10,000 bikes on the street kind of gives us an advantage because we can reply and handle situations very quickly."

On what he hears from users:

"I'm out on the street and I talk to people who say, 'You gave me access to a part of the city I didn't have access to,' and that's nice to hear. I saw someone on Twitter who posted a picture of his cell phone. He had Limebike, Ofo, Vbikes, Lyft — that's really what this generation is moving to. You look right out your window and you see how Dallas is blowing up. People are living downtown again, they don't have cars, parking's hard, and they need other modes of transportation."

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.