Why Pittsburgh’s bikeshare docks went missing all of a sudden

Healthy Ride 2.0 means new docks — but no dock-blocking.

Dude where's my dock?

Dude where's my dock?

Courtesy Healthy Ride
Sarah Anne Hughes

In the grand scheme of neighborhood listserv postings, this one wasn’t too alarmist. No exclamation marks. No dog poop drama. But still, a perceived problem.

“The rental bikes are just sitting in a line. Not locked up. The securing posts are gone.”

The person writing on a private Facebook group for residents of the Mexican War Streets and Allegheny City Central wasn’t wrong. Healthy Ride bikes on the North Side haven’t been secured in a traditional bikeshare dock for weeks now — for a reason.

Pittsburgh’s bikeshare is in the midst of launching a 2.0 update, which will feature new docks and other upgrades that Healthy Ride’s staff says will make the system more user-friendly.

Executive Director David White has been with Healthy Ride from the beginning. It launched in 2015 and now has 500 bikes and 50 stations. This year, there are plans to expand with 15 more, to-be-announced stations.

Sarah Anne Hughes / The Incline

White said customers will see a “noticeable improvement” when the new docks are in place later this summer. It took about a year to select the new hardware, White said, and Pittsburgh will be the first system in the U.S. to use it. Crews are in the process of removing the existing docks from all 50 stations; they should all be gone by the end of July.

“The changes will be easily, noticeably better,” he said.

In the interim, bikes can be rented and returned using the mounted cable lock: take it out to rent, put it back in to return. The cable locks are an existing (now upgraded) feature that allows users to make stops and to return a bike at a full station. That problem — called dock-blocking — is an issue with systems in cities like D.C. and New York, where riders may have to go from station to station to find a dock that isn’t full.