By Charles Pekow
Freeing shared bikes from docks does wonders for increasing use. Or so experience in China shows. Docked bicycle systems became popular in China back in 2008. Dockless ones weren't introduced till 2016. In the first year since then, they took off so rapidly in more than 200 cities that they made docked systems “appear insignificant,” reports To Be or Not to Be Dockless: Empirical Analysis of Dockless Bikeshare Development in China, a paper from the Institute of Transport Studies in Clayton, Australia.
Dockless systems grew so fast, however, that they overwhelmed cities and caused some to start regulating. Most trips are by young riders to and from work, with an almost equal number of males and females.
The authors conclude, however, that docked and dockless systems come with their own advantages and disadvantages and one might work better than another in a given city. Larger cities with plenty of transportation choices probably prefer dockless. Docked systems tend to work better in medium-sized cities where a higher proportion of people drive to work.
Find the report at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965856418309844.