Companies renting bikes, e-bikes can lease city parking space
Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Tuesday signed a bill that allows the leasing of city parking stalls as docking stations to companies that rent bicycles and — possibly in the future — other types of “shared micromobility” vehicles.
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Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Tuesday signed a bill that allows the leasing of city parking stalls as docking stations to companies that rent bicycles and — possibly in the future — other types of “shared micromobility”
Bill 44 defines shared micromobility vehicles (SMVs) as commercial transportation equipment weighing less than 100 pounds, either motor- or human-powered, rented short-term “on a self-service basis, usually through a website or mobile application,” and designed for point-to-point travel.
But city officials said the new ordinance currently only allows for traditional and electronic bicycles because that’s what’s now allowed under state law. If, at some point, state law allows for other such devices such as motorized motor scooters, they also may be able to lease city parking stalls for their operations.
“I believe that … (shared) micromobility can be done correctly if done in coordination with the city unlike the previous rollout,” Caldwell said, referring to an attempt in May 2018 by California-based rental scooter company Lime, which put out 200 scooters for rent on sidewalks in Waikiki, Ala Moana and
Kakaako without notifying government agencies.
The city quickly impounded the scooters and told company officials they were operating illegally.
Caldwell said the big-picture reason for the rental stalls is to give Oahu residents more alternatives to driving their own motor
vehicles, thus lessening their carbon footprint in the midst of Earth’s climate
crisis. “We’ve committed to getting off of fossil fuel,” he said, noting that the city has committed to eliminating all fossil-fueled buses and other vehicles in its fleet by 2035.
The new law authorizes the city transportation director to issue annual SMV parking permits either in parking meter zones, off-street parking or attendant parking areas under city
jurisdiction. No more than three permits will be allowed per street block.
Applicants will pay a nonrefundable $500 fee which also would need to be paid annually for renewals. The SMV parking stall permit would be determined by where the stall is located — between $1,350 and
There also will be a per-vehicle registration fee of $30 annually. The fees are intended to pay for administration of the program, which would be done by the Department of Transportation Services.
The new law must now go through a public, administrative rule-making process over about the next six months. DTS could choose to implement a lottery system for the issuance or renewal of permits if demand exceeds what’s available.
To be eligible for parking permits, an SMV company must submit a comprehensive operations plan. The operator also would equip its fleet with GPS trackers and maintain 24-hour service center operations. The permits will not be transferable.
In response to concerns that micromobility vehicles would be allowed to be strewn along city streets or sidewalks, the new law says SMVs must be standing upright when deployed and parked on city property. They must also not be parked in a manner that impedes vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
Since June 2017 the city has been in partnership with the nonprofit Bikeshare Hawaii allowing it to establish a “pilot” Biki program that allows for the rental of up to 1,300 rental bikes parked along 130 docking stations in Honolulu. The contract runs through another 2-1/2 years, city officials said.
Dre Kalili, DTS executive assistant, said Biki will be exempt from the new law until the pilot project is over. After that it will have seek permits like other companies, she said.
Some City Council members have criticized the city’s agreement with Biki, accusing Caldwell of setting up a sweetheart deal. But Caldwell said Tuesday that Biki was always intended to be a pilot program and that Bikeshare stepped forward when other companies did not. The pilot has worked well, he said, and it is now the nation’s sixth most used bikeshare program.
DTS Deputy Director Jon Nouchi echoed Caldwell’s comments. “A true, modern multimodal transportation network with many options is our goal, and one that can be achieved with
participation by both government and the private sector,” Nouchi said. “So we have bus, rail and Handi-Van on the government side, but we also have car-sharing, ride-sharing and don’t forget about walking, biking and small, shared micromobility devices. These will all allow commuter choice and unprecedented mobility.”