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Bikeshare company may drop thousands of bikes on SF streets without permits

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(Courtesy photo)

“Disruption” is tech term with which San Francisco is all too familiar.

Now, China-based bikeshare company Bluegogo may follow in the footsteps of Uber, Airbnb and other tech companies by launching in San Francisco without permission or permits, following the “disruption” template established by so many others.

If Bluegogo, which recently has signaled its apparent upcoming expansion into San Francisco, repeat its business model seen in other cities worldwide, the company may place tens of thousands of bicycles on San Francisco streets that will be available for rent via an app –– seemingly without first asking permission to use city sidewalks.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has longed battled with “disruptive” companies like Airbnb, told the San Francisco Examiner it was problematic Bluegogo has not contacted city officials.

“This is the age old tech arrogance,” Peskin said, which is a “‘do what they want and answer their questions later’ business model that has gotten everybody from Airbnb to Uber in trouble.”

Peskin said he directed the City Attorney’s Office to look into remedy to address Bluegogo’s potential scofflaw actions. The Mayor’s Office was unaware of Bluegogo’s expansion into San Francisco.

John Cote, spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office said, “We’re aware of Bluegogo’s interest in San Francisco. We’re working with our clients to evaluate the situation. Any company that comes to the city has to follow the law, and we have tools at our disposal to ensure that happens.”

“A program as you described would require permits from us to operate in The City,” said Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson for Public Works. “Our permits bureau has not been contacted by the company.”

Though Bluegogo’s expansion into San Francisco is not yet confirmed, the signs are many: Bluegogo posted job openings in Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Jose, Stanford and San Francisco, and started a Twitter page based in San Francisco.

Chinese-language news site Sina reported on Bluegogo moving bike production and expansion to the United States in an article published Wednesday.

“[Bluegogo] in the United States will be the first stop in San Francisco, then expand to other cities in the United States,” the site reported, in a translation via Google translate, verified by Chinese-language readers for the Examiner.

On its Facebook page the company cryptically posted, “What city should we tackle next,” next to a ponderous emoji.

According to a news report by Mashable, Bluegogo is a “stationless” form of bike sharing. The company places bikes on sidewalks in cities which customers can find via GPS on a smartphone app.

According to Mashable, Bluegogo placed 35,000 bikes in Shenzen, 25,000 bikes in Guangzhou, and 10,000 bikes in Chengdu only last month.

They are so notorious as disruptors that even the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is against its unpermitted expansion.

“Regulations for our streets and sidewalks exist to provide people of all abilities safe passage,” said Chris Cassidy, a bike coalition spokesperson.

Peskin said he was contacted by competitors of Bluegogo, who told him the company was preparing a launch in San Francisco.

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