The bright yellow and orange bicycles operated by China-based dockless bike companies Ofo and Mobike will soon disappear from D.C. streets.
Both companies announced this week that they are closing down operations in the nation’s capital. Ofo, the first company to pull out of the District, pinned the change on a reorganization of global operations, while Mobike representatives said Wednesday that D.C.’s bike limit hinders “successful operation efficiency” and “user experience,” The Washington Post reported.
Both companies launched operations in the District last year as part of a pilot program that limits each participating company to 400 bikes or scooters, or a mix of both. The pilot program will end next month, according to The Post.
“You need to have several thousand bikes” to run a sustainable bike-sharing company, Chris Martin, Mobike’s vice president of international expansion and operations, told The Post. He said the company operates 8,000 bikes in Milan, a city with a similar demand and number of customers as D.C.
Martin said the company appealed to D.C. officials earlier this year, requesting to concentrate bikes in high-demand areas. But the officials wouldn’t overrule a permit requiring each company’s fleet to be spread across all eight wards, he said.
Bikeshare companies have also recently fallen victim to theft and vandalism during their first year of operation, with some companies reportedly having lost up to half of their fleets.
Five dockless bike and scooter companies remain in D.C. after the departures – Spin and JUMP operate bikes; Bird and Skip operate scooters; and LimeBike operates both, according to The Post.