Dockless bike companies are building a virtual fence around Coronado to avoid having their bikes impounded.
City staff impounded 26 bicycles since the city began tagging bikes parked in public streets last week, said Lea Corbin of the Coronado Police Department.
The city can impound the bikes because of a municipal code against using the public right-of-way for business without a permit. Because dockless bike companies don’t have permits, the city can take away their bikes.
For now, Coronado is charging companies a $45 fee to claim their bikes. Ofo picked up three of their yellow bicycles earlier this week. Coronado’s Department of Public Services building had dozens on LimeBikes and at least one Mobike Thursday morning.
If bicycles from these companies continue to be left in Coronado, the city may issue citations of $100, $200 or $500, according to a staff report.
The freestanding bikes can be rented using a smartphone app for as little as $1 and don’t have to be returned to a store or docking station. Instead, they lock in place when they aren’t in use.
LimeBike, Mobike, and Ofo said they are working with city officials to be responsible neighbors. Each app uses a map and GPS technology to let users know where the nearest available bikes and scooters are. Each company is building a warning into its app.
LimeBike installed a red fence around Coronado in its map. A notice warns users that they could be fined or suspended from the app if they repeatedly leave bicycles in Coronado.
Mobike also has “geofencing” technology that lets staff know when their bikes leave certain areas. When someone leaves a bike outside the geofence, users get a text message asking them to return the bike to an appropriate area, a company spokesperson said.
Ofo is working on similar in-app guidelines for parking but has not released details.
The impounding is likely to continue. Thursday morning, Coronado police officers tagged four bicycles. Staff from the Public Services Department were scheduled to pick them up before the end of the day, Corbin said.
Dockless bikes have been popular in Imperial Beach and San Diego, where people use them to go to school, work or just ride around town. But they have received pushback.
In San Diego, the Little Italy Association asked the city to temporarily ban dockless bikes. When the city declined, the association ordered maintenance crews to remove the bikes from the neighborhood’s commercial corridor.
In North County, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas have agreed to partner and create a regional bike share program.