- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2018

D.C. sidewalks may have fewer bikes strewn across them as two dockless bikeshare companies announce their departure from the District.

Chinese-based bike companies Ofo and Mobike will both be leaving the city this week, citing regulatory restrictions that hampered business. The two are part of a pilot program run by the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) to test the viability against the “docked” model used by Capital Bikeshare

Chris Martin, Mobike’s vice president for North America operations, told WAMU 88.5 on Wednesday that the 400-bike limit imposed by DDOT during the pilot program killed business.

“It’s made it very unsustainable for us to run operations in this city and very different to any other market that we’re operating in right now,” Mr. Martin said, referring to similar-size markets Mobike operates in like Milan, Italy, where the company deploys 8,000 bikes. The District was the first American city Mobike operated in.

An Ofo spokesperson echoed the sentiment, telling The Washington Post on Monday that it was withdrawing to other markets where “viable” growth was possible.

DDOT said in a statement that the department will be “using the information collected during the demonstration project to arrive at long-term options for the use of dockless vehicles in the District.”

Two dockless bikeshare companies, Spin and DC Jump, remain as the city’s pilot program approaches its end in September. Dockless scooter companies Bird and LimeBike are also included in the program.

Dockless scooters and bikes have been celebrated by those looking for cheap transit as a faster way to get around the city during frequent Metro service outages. But they’ve also proven a headache to others who protest that discarded vehicles are often left blocking sidewalks and front doors.

For its part, DDOT is collecting data on road blockages and damages caused by the bikes and scooters.

Mobike and Ofo say they will refund riders any balance left on their accounts within the next two weeks.

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