Will dockless scooters, bikes last in San Antonio?

E-bike business owner says they won't last unless business model changes

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter, Robert Samarron - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - It's a debate that has everyone talking: Do dockless scooters or bikes belong in our city?

Some cities have banned the dockless vehicles, but for now, they remain in the Alamo City.

City leaders are trying to figure out how to handle the thousands of scooters and bikes on San Antonio streets.

RELATED: Here's everything you need to know about dockless scooters, bikes in SA

One businessman said he believes he may have found a solution to all of the clutter.

Taylor Prestwood, founder of Z-Bikez, an electric bike company out of Austin, spoke at the City of the Future Conference that was hosted by CPS Energy and an Austin energy company.

During a panel session called “Are e-vehicles the future of transportation?” Prestwood spoke about how he doesn’t believe the business model of dockless vehicle companies will last, and there needs to be a better solution to the use of e-vehicles.

Currently, there are 14,000 dockless scooters and bikes in San Antonio. Prestwood said that’s too many.

“There are so many out there, people look at them as disposable and they abuse them, and they create new problems that probably wouldn't exist if there weren't quite as many in the streets,” Prestwood said.

He said there are problems, such as people dumping the dockless vehicles where they don't belong, which then forces the city to enforce cleanup. He said dockless companies won't last with that kind of business model. 

RELATED: How dirty are handlebars on dockless scooters?

“Switzerland banned them temporarily; Australia is looking to do the same,” Prestwood said.

Prestwood said dockless vehicles arrived in China about three years before they came to the U.S. He said he studied dockless bikes there and learned that the companies didn’t last in China because of the business model. 

“A lot of companies either got bought or went out of business,” Prestwood said. “There ended up being thousands and thousands of bicycles that got dumped into the landfills and dumps.”

Z-Bikez will be launching a subscription model, which he believes is the solution. Prestwood said that's a way riders can be responsible for their own bike or scooter.

“It's yours to take home. You are responsible for it. You can't just leave it on the corner and let people kick it over or pile them up,” Prestwood said.

Currently, there aren't any subscription models in San Antonio. Prestwood said he hopes to expand his company to cities such as San Antonio or other larger markets.

The Z-Bikez subscription model will also come with training courses on how to use the e-bikes and safety courses in which users will be given helmets and bike locks.

Two weeks ago, the city approved stricter rules as part of the dockless vehicle pilot program, which ends in April. People can still weigh in on the city's survey on dockless scooters here.

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As the city continues to weigh the future of dockless scooters and bikes, the story about them will coninue to evolve. 

What questions do you have about dockless scooters and bikes? Ask us a question below and we'll do our best to look into it!

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