Opinion: Respect the bikes

The bikes we share deserve our appreciation and respect

You have seen them around Tempe — yellow and lime green bikes are sprouting up in the area like dandelions. While some residents consider the bikes a nuisance, the overall idea behind dockless bike-sharing is genius, and we should treat the bikes with respect.

I can see why it’s annoying to find random bikes in front of residences and blocking sidewalks, but there are regulations in the works to prevent such things from happening.

Read more: Tempe looks to regulate dockless bike-sharing

Eric Smith, a spokesman for ofo, one of the bike-sharing companies that has moved into the Valley, said he recognizes they have two types of consumers – those that use the bikes and those that do not. He also said some confusion surrounds the proper way to park the bikes.

“Let’s try to figure out the best way to park this,” Smith said. “Let’s try to be good neighbors to each other. We want to make sure our bikes are parked properly in sidewalks and such.”

You might have seen pictures of these bikes hoisted up into trees and thrown into dumpsters, but ofo at least is pretty on top of correcting these issues. Any time one of the bikes is broken or placed in an inaccessible spot, there are people who usually fix the problem within a day.

“Each bike has a GPS on it, and we know if the bike hasn’t moved for 24 hours, there is usually something wrong with it,” Smith said. “Our team will get out there as soon as possible, and they’ll go check in on the bike. If everything’s fine, they’ll pick it up, put it in the van and take it to an area where they know it will be ridden. If it’s not, we’ll take it out to our warehouse, and we have a lot of in-house bike mechanics that’ll work on it.”

With bike-sharing companies correcting mechanical and placement issues, these bikes shouldn’t really cause much problem for those not interested in using them. As for the rest of us, we should really appreciate the convenience that the bikes provide.

“We’re getting some really cool anecdotes,” Smith said. “There was this ASU student whose car broke down six miles from campus, and he was going to Uber, but it was like 30 bucks. Instead, he opened his ofo app and he rode his bike — it was like 90 degrees that day — six miles to campus.”

Bike-sharing is a perfect way for students to get around the city and campus in a pinch, and for little cost. Not only is it cheap, though — it’s better for our environment

Smith said ofo is trying to bridge the gap between public transportation stops and the final destination, but they also recognize for it to really take off, more people need to feel safe biking. Tempe is considered a highly-rated bike-friendly city, but even here, some bikers are apprehensive of sharing the road with vehicles.

“Really, what it’s about is how do we get people to bike, get them used to this, and then I think with that comes cities recognizing the value of a greener way to get around.”

 Reach the columnist at amblodge@asu.edu or follow @AndiBlodgett on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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