If you live near Scottsdale or Phoenix, you have probably noticed a large number of colorful bikes that have recently been introduced to the area. These bikes are part of bike-sharing programs that have partnered with the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa. The premise of these programs is very simple: download the company’s app to rent a bike, ride the bike anywhere you need to go and leave the bike at your destination. The bikes are outfitted with a GPS system that allows the company to locate the bike and move it back to a pickup area when a customer is done using the bike. The cost to rent these bikes is minimal. LimeBike, the most prominent bike sharing service in Scottsdale, charges users $1.00 for every 30 minutes that the bike is being used.
Who owns these bikes?
There are several bike-sharing companies that have recently introduced their bikes to the Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa area: LimeBike (the green and yellow bikes), Ofo (the yellow bikes) and Spin (the orange bikes) are all dockless bikes, meaning that they do not need to be returned to a specific location. GR:D bikes (the green bikes) are docked bikes in Phoenix and Tempe. These companies are not affiliated with the cities of Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa; and the companies claim that these programs do not result in any cost to the city.
Although the bikes can only be picked up in a designated area, most of them can be left anywhere. This has resulted in many bikes being left throughout neighborhoods in Scottsdale and Phoenix. While many residents are enjoying these bikes, there are others who feel that these bikes create nuisance issues when they are left in high traffic areas and neighborhoods.
Are These Bikes a Nuisance?
Some residents certainly seem to think so. There have been reports of residents throwing discarded bikes into garbage cans and even into the canal. Some residents feel that the discarded bikes are an eyesore and users should not be permitted to leave the bikes wherever they please. Currently, the cities of Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe do not consider the bikes to be a nuisance, but that could change if enough residents feel that something needs to be done.
Several cities across the country are facing similar concerns. The city council of Coronado, California recently declared all dockless bikes to be a nuisance and has given the city the authority to impound any bikes that are left within city limits.  Paradise Valley is considering whether its city council will take similar measures to address the dockless bikes left within city limits.
Some of the bike-sharing companies are attempting to address these concerns by encouraging users to leave the bikes in an approved area. Ofo gives users an in-app credit rating if they have a history of safe parking and responsible bike usage. Users with high credits are offered free rides, company apparel and offers from local businesses. Users with low credit scores can be suspended from the app. Hopefully these incentives will promote responsible parking and help decrease the number of bikes that are left in unsafe areas and neighborhoods.
What can an association do when a bike is left in the community?
Our office has received many questions from boards about what an association can or should do with these bikes when they are left in or near association property. As mentioned above, most of these bikes are outfitted with a GPS system. The company that owns the bike is supposed to track the bike, pick it up and put it back in a designated pickup area. The timeframe to have a bike removed varies depending on where the bike has been left. If your community is near a high traffic area, the bike maybe rented by a new rider before the company has a chance to remove it. However, if your community is in a less populated area it may take some time for the company to pick up the bike.
Every bike has a label with its company’s contact information. If a bike has been left within your community you can contact the proper company and ask them to remove the bike. LimeBike and Ofo employees claim they will remove a bike within 24 hours of it being reported. If a bike is still not removed within 24 hours you can contact the local police department for removal.
Many of our clients live in gated communities and have found bikes that have been left inside of the association gates. When these bikes are left in a gated community the company attempting to pick them up cannot gain access to the bike unless they are allowed in. It can be difficult for owners within the community to remove the bikes because they lock when they are not in use and in order to unlock the bike, someone would need to pay to use the bike. Some frustrated owners have had to pick up the bike and carry it out of the gates so it can be removed by the company.
If you live in a gated community and a bike is left inside of the Association gates you should contact the proper company and ask how they suggest you address the situation. You should also notify the board of directors if the bikes present an ongoing problem. The Board may be able to reach out to these companies so the companies are aware that bikes are being left in the community and they can remove the bikes in a timely manner.
Whether or not these bikes currently are a nuisance remains to be determined, but it seems that bike-sharing programs are not going anywhere for the time being.