If you’ve spent some time in and around downtown Fort Worth you’ve probably heard of the bike sharing program BCycle. It is designed to offer riders a means of transportation or leisure riding all without the commitment of purchasing a bike.
As with most successful endeavors comes competition. So it should be no surprise that Garland-based Vbikes has entered the market. What is a surprise is that they just showed up in Fort Worth without any fanfare.
About a dozen bikes were peppered around downtown bike racks starting last weekend. Unlike Bcycle, Vbikes don’t have designated bike stations where riders must return bikes. Their bikes, which are equipped with GPS, can be left anywhere though, in future, rider incentives will be given when a bike is left at a rack or biker friendly location like a lamppost. Because the bikes have an on-board lock there is no need for an external bike lock.
How it works seems simple. You must download and sign up for the Vbike app on your smart phone. A great reason to finally upgrade from that flip phone. After that you can go to the app to locate a bike near you. You use your phone to unlock the bike’s lock. When your trip is over you manually return the smart lock to the locked position. In your app you will receive a receipt with the map of your route, distance traveled, calories burned and your carbon footprint impact.
Luke Pettyjohn, general counsel for Massimo Motor Sports, the parent company of Vbikes, says the quiet rollout was intentional. “We didn’t want to be intrusive to the current landscape of downtown. Downtown currently has plenty of bike racks, why take up more space.”
Vbikes is already in Dallas and Denton.
The low-maintenance bike design makes for a safer ride. “We went with a shaft drive rather than a bike chain so riders don’t have to pull over and fix or worry about an article of clothing getting caught in it. Also the bikes are equipped with flat free tires.” said Pettyjohn.
The brake cables are internal so there is nothing in the rider’s way and cables don’t run a chance of damage. The bikes only come in one color: yellow. “To add to rider safety we went with yellow because yellow say’s caution,” Pettyjohn said. “We want our riders to feel safe and to be in sight at all times.”
The bike app will continually be updated with more user friendly options, company officials say. And plans are in the works for an online shop.
The bikes rent for $1 an hour with a daily cap of $10. There is a one-time refundable deposit of $99 that is returned when the user no longer plans to use the program. For more information, call 469-509-2476 or log on to vbikes.com