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Coronado impounds dockless bikes while firms build virtual fence around island

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Some of the dockless bicycles stored at Coronado’s Public Services Department.
(Coronado Police Department)

Dockless bike companies are building a virtual fence around Coronado to avoid having their rides taken away.

The city has impounded 26 bicycles since staffers began tagging those parked in public streets last week, said Lea Corbin of the Coronado Police Department.

The city can take 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 impound their bikes.

For now, Coronado is charging companies a $45 fee to claim the bikes. Ofo picked up three of its yellow bicycles this week. Coronado’s Department of Public Services building had dozens of LimeBikes and at least one Mobike on Thursday morning.

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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.

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Mobike also has “geofencing” technology that lets staffers 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.

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 Assn. 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, the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas have agreed to become partners to create a regional bike-share program.

gustavo.solis@sduniontribune.com

Solis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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