"We've set a new record almost every month since inception, but with COVID we are really seeing extraordinary numbers. Honestly I think there there's a potential for it to increase even more," said communications director Henry Morris. "August was really hot, and we had the most rides we've ever had."
With the increased use, Bcycle is managing more bike repairs than usual as well, meaning slightly reduced capacity, so once repairs are caught up, more bikes will hit the road just as slightly cooler temperatures could arrive, Morris said.
Along with repairs and maintenance, the organization also announced Sept. 3 it implemented a credit card pre-authorization of $26 for each rental to encourage correct returns of bikes into their docking stations.
Typically, bikes rent for $3 for 30 minutes, but the group noticed a trend of some bikes being improperly returned—not fully docked or simply left near a station—leading to racked up charges. It also noticed a specific increase in the use of prepaid debit cards, which could have limited balances leading a bike to be checked out and potentially never returned.
The new pre-authorization, which does not charge the card, is hoped to prevent this, Morris said. If riders see an improperly docked bike, they are asked to go ahead and dock it. Unattended bikes should be reported to 713-865-3662.
Riders can also purchase a membership plan for $13 a month for unlimited one-hour rides.
The organization did not readily have a report of the number of bikes lost, but Morris said more bikes are recovered than not.
BCycle's system of 111 stations and 800 bikes is slated to expand further in 2020, with 19 new stations planned as well as an expanded offering of electric bikes.