“Scan and ride”. Now come on, we know it is not going to be that easy.
Sure it will…if you have the proper ID format
Having hardware docking stations is slow, expensive and inflexible. You need to dig up the road, install power and kiosks etc.
And look at the mess now they are trying to introduce Youbike 2.0. The new 2.0 bikes apparently are incompatible with the old docks, so you have to search for 2.0 compatible docks to drop off. Docking stations will have to have two sets of docks to support both versions, or they won’t bother in most cases so you’ll have to find the right version to drop off.
With a GPS-based “dock”, all you need to do is update the map in each bike (I expect this can be done remotely over mobile network) and you can instantly add or remove new pick-up/drop-off areas (and maybe paint a rectangle on the road for user visibility).
It’s a pity that Youbike 2.0 didn’t take a similar approach, because they would have been able to roll it out much more quickly (though they would need to figure out the issue of recharging the computer on each bike to handle Easycard scanning, mobile connection, unlocking etc). Perhaps a dynamo in the wheel hub which keeps the battery topped up (though this doesn’t cover the situation of battery going flat because the bike hasn’t been used for a long time).
Yes theoretically it’s a great idea. It’s not novel I’ve seen it in other places. But I’ve also seen the downsides. Physical docking stations may be cumbersome but they’re solid.
Most of the bikes after a few months start showing electrical wear and tear. The GPS may malfunction, remote unlock stops working. In such cases you’re stuck with either the check in or checkout. The maint guy has to come and take those bikes to the repair shop and get them fixed. It’s no small cost in the long run.
They do that with Ubike on an almost probably weekly basis.
Also physical docks offer security.
If it’s dockless someone could just fill a blue truck with it and haul it off to a junkyard for cash.
It would take work to disable a physical dock and it leaves a lot of evidence.
And GPS do malfunction or lose accuracy. So what if you couldn’t even return it in the area because the GPS thinks it’s somewhere else.
Why can’t we have shared fixies? You could have rental stations outside cafes and absinthe bars…
I just tried one of these today in Tamsui. Signing up was pretty easy and their insurance accepted an ARC number without issue. However, the riding experience was pretty uncomfortable. The bikes have no shock absorption whatsoever so it was rattling my skull when i went over even the smallest bumps. Somehow, a YouBike is much more comfortable. The bike also have a voice that yells at you when you go too fast, but that was happening while I was coasting on a flat area and even YouBikes were passing me. For the price, I’d much rather take a YouBike. The pedal assist on these wasn’t worth it at all.