San Marcos, Texas State University partnering to offer dockless bike sharing

Mobike is an example of a dockless bike share company that San Marcos and Texas State University want to be operating in the area. Mobike was recently approved in The Woodlands Town Center.

Mobike is an example of a dockless bike share company that San Marcos and Texas State University want to be operating in the area. Mobike was recently approved in The Woodlands Town Center.

The city of San Marcos and Texas State University will issue a joint request for proposals to get at least one station-free bike sharing company to operate in the area.

During a work session Tuesday, City Council was briefed on the partnership, which would allow the company to operate dockless bikes around the city and on the university campus at no cost to the city or the university.

"This is very important for our community," City Manager Bert Lumbreras said. "We also believe we have a great opportunity with Texas State [University] in terms of a possible partnership."

Dockless bikes utilize GPS and a smart lock system paired with a smartphone app to allow riders to reserve and park bikes at their convenience. As the name suggests, a docking station is not required. Bicycles can be parked at a bike rack, on a sidewalk or in the public right-of-way, typically within a defined area.

In September, San Marcos City Council received a pitch from the dockless bike-share company Spin, which wanted to bring an initial fleet of 150 Schwinn bicycles to the city over the first two weeks of a pilot program and expand to 550 bikes over the first two months. The proposal never went back to the Council for approval. Calls to Spin were not answered on Wednesday.

Other major cities that have piloted dockless bike-share programs include Washington, D.C., Dallas, Seattle and San Francisco.

Dockless bike-share companies operating in the US include Spin, Jump Bikes, Mobke, VBikes, Ofo and LimeBike.

San Marcos Economic Development Administrator Kevin Burke said the dockless bike-share movement has sparked a "global, intense competition" between bike-share companies with some "unintended," well-publicized results: there have been several reports of bikes parked inappropriately—blocking crosswalks, resting against poles and trees, blocking entrances and parked on bridges. Bikes have been seen laid down on their sides in the middle of sidewalks and in grassy areas, as well as found in lakes.

Burke said to curb these issues, a service boundary will be defined in the contract. The boundary will start small and gradually expand if the program is successful. Designated end-of-trip locations—such as bike racks or bike parking spaces outlined in paint within the right of way—will also be defined in the contract. It is also the bike-share companies' responsibility to relocate bikes that are not properly parked.

Bike-share riders would also have to comply with all local bicycle ordinances, Burke said.

The city will continue to add bike racks regardless of what kind of end-of-trip locations are agreed upon, he said.

The company would also be required to provide maintenance to the bikes, offer statistical reports and provide customer service.

Five bike-share companies are currently operating in Dallas, and on Jan. 18, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax sent them a letter asking them to manage their bicycle fleets better. Companies have until Feb. 9 to relocate bicycles that have been placed on narrow sidewalks, turf, landscaping, multi-use trails or blocking access to public or private property, transit stops or sidewalk ramps. If the bikes aren't relocated by then, Broadnax said the city will start moving the bicycles.

Lumbreras said Dallas was "free and loose" with its bike-share programs, allowing too many companies and too many bicycles to launch at once.

"We're going to be very particular about whichever company or companies we work with in terms of how the program is rolled out," he said.

Burke said he expects the bike-share industry to consolidate in the future. For now, he said the city and Texas State would proceed with caution.

Company bids will be reviewed by the city and Texas State. Eight weeks after sending the Request for Proposal, Burke said he hopes to award a one-year contract with an option to review every year or every four years.

The contract comes with a six-month review, where the company will provide statistics and the city and the university will evaluate how the program is working at that point.

"I think our city and our students deserve having a good service, something that is reliable—that’s why I was insistent about the six-month review," Lumbreras said.

Burke said the Request for Proposal would allow for multiple types of bicycles, including electric bikes. The number of bikes permitted in San Marcos will be determined when the contract is drafted.

Nancy Nusbaum, Texas State's associate vice president of finance and support services planning, said several dockless bike-share companies have already reached out to the city and the university with an interest in operating within San Marcos.

The partnership and proposal comes on the heels of Austin's decision on Feb. 1 to approve a dockless bike-share pilot program. The pilot will start following a public engagement process that will include a community-wide survey and a forum, according to the city's transportation department. City Council also voted to expand its B-cycle program, which provides docked bike-share services throughout the city.
By Marie Albiges

Marie Albiges was the editor for the San Marcos, Buda and Kyle edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covered San Marcos City Council, San Marcos CISD and Hays County Commissioners Court. Marie previously reported for the Central Austin edition. Marie moved to Austin from Williamsburg, Va. in 2016 and was born in France. She has since moved on from Community Impact in May 2018.


In 2019, Roxanne's House served 574 victims of child abuse. (Courtesy HomeAid Austin)
Child advocacy center celebrates completion of facility renovations

The renovation included building an additional 300 square feet of office space, which will allow space for three additional staff members.

Construction for the San Marcos River Shared Use Pathway Project started on Feb. 17. (Anna Herod/Community Impact Newspaper)
New San Marcos trail project will create opportunity for nonmotorized transportation

The trail will be located around Children’s Park, Rio Vista Park and Ramon Lucio Park.

The board approved a six-proposition bond Feb. 6. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Three Hays CISD board of trustee elections in May are uncontested

Two current trustees are running for reelection.

Buda's transportation infrastructure is being updated to accommodate a growing population. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)
Buda to hold open house Feb. 20 on future transportation and mobility master plan

The mobility and master plan plan will identify needs, solutions and improvements to accommodate the city’s rapid growth.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in San Antonio on Feb. 13. The case is the 15th known COVID-19, commonly referred to in recent weeks as coronavirus, infection in the United States so far. (Courtesy Adobe stock photos)
The first coronavirus case in Texas was just confirmed. Here is what Austinites need to know about the virus

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in San Antonio this morning, according to a news release from the federal agency.

Hill Country Theatre joins Inspired Minds Arts Center at 121 Main St., Buda. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hill Country Theatre will begin performances in downtown Buda on Feb. 14

Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" is the first Buda play for the nonprofit.

The restaurant will be located at The Lyndon, apartment complex, 200 Springtown Way, Ste. 138, San Marcos.(Courtesy Xian Sushi and Noodle)
Xian Sushi and Noodle to open in San Marcos in early May

The Austin-base restaurant will serve home-made noodles that can be customized to any preference and sushi.

Jason Pence was fired by the city Jan. 27 following allegations that he had engaged in improper practices as construction manager. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
BREAKING NEWS: Texas Rangers find former San Marcos construction manager used city funds, labor for personal projects

The former city employee was arrested Feb. 11 on charges of theft by a public servant.

Jason Pence was arrested Feb. 11. (Courtesy Comal County)
Texas Rangers arrest recently fired San Marcos construction manager

The arrest follows a criminal investigation sparked by allegations that the employee engaged in improper purchasing practices.

(Community Impact Newspaper)
Gymnastics center set to open in Kyle expands, changes name

Instead of 3,000 square feet, Waves Gymnastics will open with 6,000 square feet of space.

(Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)
Buda aims reuse of city buildings toward the arts, culture and tourism

“This town has always been an artist's town,” Inspired Minds co-owner Sinéad Whiteside said.

A public meeting for community input will be held on Feb. 19 at 6:00 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
City of San Marcos asks for input on allocation of federal funds

In addition to a public meeting on Feb. 19, there will also be a survey available online and on paper, in both English and Spanish, through Feb. 23.

Back to top