A bill now moving through the legislature would put new requirements on companies and take enforcement out of the hands of local government.
State lawmakers in Florida have proposed a bill that would give the state control over dockless bike sharing, setting a single set of state regulations that overrule city authority or opposition to the bikes.
House Republicans Jackie Toledo and James Grant introduced the bill, HB 1033, last December and it is now being reviewed by the House Commerce Committee. The legislation attempts to empower the state to regulate bikes that do not require a rental station for pickup or dropoff.
Dockless bikes are rented through mobile apps, tracked through GPS and are designed to be left anywhere a normal bike can be legally locked. A summary of the bill says that its intent is "to provide Florida residents with access to innovative, environmentally friendly transportation options and to ensure the safety and reliability of dockless bicycle sharing services within the state."
Though popular internationally, dockless bikes have received pushback in cities like San Francisco where city and county authorities halted an attempt to launch the bikes by the Chinese company Bluegogo, which has since gone out of business. Opposition there stemmed from a fear that the bikes would clutter city streets as they have in China.
The bill would give the state full authority over dockless bikes. The companies operating in Florida include Spin and LimeBike.
"Dockless bicycles and dockless bicycle sharing companies shall be governed exclusively by state law," the bill reads.
This "preemption" also prohibits cities from taxing the dockless bike companies, requiring them to obtain local business licenses or restricting their operation in any way. However, the bill does make an exception for operation around airports.
Despite the broad protections given to dockless bike companies, the bill makes an effort to regulate bad actors. Operators are responsible for making sure their bikes are stationed legally and must have at least $500,000 in liability insurance for each instance of bodily injury and property damage that results from the bikes.
If passed, the act would take effect on July 1, 2018.