Our methodology of working with cities.
Today marks 100 days of Dropbike. It’s a good time to reflect on the work we’ve done and how we want to make our mark in the future.
In the past 100 days, one thing has become abundantly clear: we’re committed to setting an example when it comes to working with governments, universities, and all of our partners.
When we started Dropbike, we did so with a simple vision: more Canadians riding bicycles more often. Our bikes would be more affordable than buses or cabs, faster than walking or being stuck in traffic, healthier than any other transit option, and better for the environment. Many of us never have, and never want, to own a car. Our product will dramatically change how people think of bicycles, but how we do our work has always been grounded in one value — we are friendly, respectful and considerate, to every city and campus.
It is not within our mandate to put bikes on the ground without the knowledge of officials who have a responsibility to the people in their area. It is not within our mandate to ignore the committees, advisories or councils that prioritize the best interest of residents, in favour of our own agenda. Whether it was in working with the University of Toronto Students’ Unions, which represents tens of thousands of students, or the City of Kingston, we are committed to working with institutions — not separate from them, and certainly not against them.
Day 100 is also a good time to reflect on how we’re different. The biggest imperfection in the Asian — and at times, European — bike-sharing systems is the outward approach of the bike-sharing companies. They compete so fiercely with one another that they forget about the two key groups their actions are impacting: residents and the governments beholden to them.
The aggressive battle of the companies leave bikes piled on the sidewalks, new startups springing up and dumping more bikes in cities, governments scrambling to maintain order, and a general sense of hostility between the groups involved.
How has something so harmless, the bicycle, become the vehicle for a fight in areas of the world?
At every meeting and with every proposal, we emphasize our commitment for a partnership. It can look different for every location. It looks vastly different (and yes, slower) than the trajectory of companies who put bikes on the ground first, and ask for forgiveness later (or more often, never). But we think this is the right way to go.
Our friendliness and partnership-focused mindset, coupled with our commitment to collaboration and cooperation, has also coloured the way we treat each other. It has impacted how we talk to riders. It has even made us hesitant about saying that we are “in competition” with other bike sharing services. The truth is that Dropbike — and the environment, and traffic managers, and cyclists — only wins when more people ride bikes more often. If anything, our strategy is to divide and conquer the war on pollution. If not working together, our startup acts as a complement to services like Bike Share Toronto or other similar companies.
Only in this way, with the most friendly (read: Canadian) approach, can we ensure that everyone wins.
—The Dropbike Team
If you’d like to get in touch with us as a municipality or campus, please find us here.