AURORA — There are nearly 1,000 bike-share bicycles in Aurora, and more could be on the way.
The city's "dockless" program, operated by LimeBike and Ofo, is growing in popularity, but not without some challenges.
One of the biggest challenges relates to neighborhood complaints about bikes being left on sidewalks, out in the street and on private property.
“They are just popping up in front of people’s houses,” said homeowner Tyler Nesper. “They’re in the middle of sidewalks and on my lawn, and there’s not much I can do.”
Nesper said the bike share program is a great idea, that helps cut down on pollution, and helps people get exercise, but he adds that all the bikes being left haphazardly in his neighborhood detract from it visually.
“I just don’t like the look of it,” he said. “It just doesn’t make the neighborhood look as nice.”
Nesper said he drove around earlier in the week and found 15 bicycles parked upright or on their side on sidewalks and grass within a mile of his house.
He said he's called the city to complain.
Aurora City Planner Braden Paradies, who heads up the bike share program, said the city receives about 5 to 10 complaints a week about the bikes.
“It’s not so much that they’re blocking the sidewalks,” he said, “it’s that they’re everywhere. They’re tipped over. Those are the messages we hear more about.”
Paradies said City Council approved the bike share program to help reduce travel time and congestion and to provide multi-modal mobility choices.
He said share bikes can be parked on city right-of-way — including sidewalks, or in parks, next to bus or train stops, or to the side of a building entrance. He said they should be parked upright.
Paradies told Denver7 that bikes should not be parked in the middle of a sidewalk, against trees or within landscape planting beds, or in driveways. Nor should they be left on private property.
Paradies said homeowners who find improperly parked bikes should contact the bike company.
“It’s better to reach out to the companies directly,” he said, “like any private business, if you have a question about a product or a brand, you’re going to reach out to that company directly.”
Nesper said he did that twice and didn’t hear back, until after he talked to Denver7.
Paradies said the city is trying to act as a liaison between residents and the bike companies.
When asked if the city can make the bike companies move the bikes or respond to homeowner’s concerns, Paradies said they're looking at ways to encourage the companies to do so.
“That’s where we, as a city, have to really start to have a more serious conversation with these operators and say, ‘hey, you have a permit to operate here in the city, we need to have some serious conversations about what we’re hearing from our community and our residents, on ways to refine this program and enforce the rules.’”
Paradies said Aurora is also collaborating with other cities that utilize “dockless” systems.
“We’re all in the same boat,” he said. “We’re experiencing a lot of similar challenges. The industry is young and we’re still trying to understand what it means, what the evolution is.”
Paradies said there’s a learning curve for the city and the companies, and for residents who use the bikes.
“In the end,” he said, “it’s about educating riders, so they feel confident in knowing where they can place a bike once they get to their destination.”
Nesper said he’d like to see Aurora move to a “docked” bike share system, similar to Denver’s “B-cycle” system. That’s where a bike must be returned to a dock, in order to end the transaction.
But Paradies said many cities are moving to the “dockless” system.
Bike share rider Lawrence Marchiano said he likes Aurora's current system.
“You can get off the bus, train, or go to a gas station or grocery store, (the bikes) are everywhere.”