Skip to content

Posts from the Bike Sharing Category

11 Comments

What Should Downtown L.A. Do to Get Ready for Bike Share?

New bike lanes on 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New bike lanes on 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro regional bike share is coming soon. If all goes as planned, a year from now, downtown Los Angeles will have system on the ground. It will include about 1,000 bikes at 65 docking stations. The system will extend from Union Station to USC. For more detail, see SBLA’s earlier preview.

It’s not too early to ask Streetsblog L.A. readers — are Downtown Los Angeles streets ready to make bike share a big success? If not, what changes should L.A.’s Transportation Department (LADOT) prioritize in the coming months?

Let’s start by celebrating. Downtown has come a long ways in the last half a decade.

Back on October 10, 2010, there was this event called CicLAvia that flooded central Los Angeles streets with bicycles. At that time, there were no bike facilities in downtown Los Angeles.

In fact, there still were no bikeways downtown through July 2011. In August 2011, the 7th Street bike lanes arrived, dipping their toes across the 110 Freeway into downtown.

Green pavement bike lanes soon followed on Spring Street. Then, buffered bike lanes on Los Angeles Street and First Street.

In 2012, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar and LADOT announced the coming Downtown L.A. Bikeway Network. Other than a few facilities that the city spent a lot of time and money to study (Cesar Chavez Avenue and Venice Boulevard), the downtown network was built out. And then some — downtown now boasts one of the most complete bikeway networks in the city. 

It’s not Wilmington, but downtown is a great place to bike. Even when LAPD vehicles park in some of the lanes some of the time.

Downtown’s increased bikeability is a subject of some controversy. Read more…

20 Comments

Some Highlights From Yesterday’s Live Ride Share Conference

Charting the number of cars per renter household in five Southern California cities. Image provided by Mott Smith [PDF]

Charting the number of cars per renter household in five Southern California cities. Image provided by Mott Smith [PDF]

Yesterday Transit Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Move L.A., and the Shared Use Mobility Center, joined forces with two dozen other organizations and businesses to host Live Ride Share. The conference was billed as the “first to focus on shared mobility in Southern California [and] highlighted the profound changes occurring in transportation around the world and the economic, political and lifestyle ramifications of these developments in SoCal.”

The main focus was on shared-use transportation, ranging from car share, bike share, carpooling, taxis, to ride-hailing companies (Uber, Lyft), and how these interact with the rest of Southern California’s transportation and livability landscape. Speakers included experts from as far as Helsinki and London, to as near as Boyle Heights and Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Next and Streetsblog L.A. were there. We’re not going to try to re-cap in any comprehensive way, but here are some of the noteworthy things we heard:

Sharing Can Reduce Housing Costs, If We Right-Size Parking

Shared-use mobility, like care share and bike share, could dramatically lower rents in new housing by reducing the amount of expensive parking required in new developments. That’s the message Stuart Cohen with TransForm conveyed on Live Ride Share’s panel on integrating shared mobility into land use and housing. He showed the audience comparisons of a theoretical project first with no parking, then with three different parking configurations — podium parking, surface parking, and underground parking — and the impact each of those had on rents. The rents, based on a seven percent return for the developer, went from $800 a month for a one-bedroom to $1,350 a month (Note: an earlier version of this article misstated the rent figures. It has been updated). Dedicated car share services in new developments could mean that, instead of paying for parking to stow private vehicles that sit idle for most of the day, residents could share a pool of cars when they need it.

Unfortunately the city of Los Angeles currently operates under the opposite strategy.  In L.A., current zoning requires about 60 percent of renters pay for parking spaces they don’t use. Civic Enterprise co-founder Mott Smith, reiterating points from ULI’s FutureBuild conference last month, pointed out that 19 percent of renters in Los Angeles own no cars and about 48 percent own one car, yet zoning requirements mandate we build almost exclusively for two-car households. The cost of parking construction, of course, gets folded into the rents of even those people who own no cars. Why aren’t we building apartments for those people? Why aren’t 19 percent of new units built with zero parking to reflect the percentage of households who don’t own cars? Why are we making one-car households pay for two parking spaces? With working families forced to flee Los Angeles and California because of skyrocketing rents, it seems misguided that we are expecting them to take on the burden of paying for parking they don’t use.

Over-parking our homes and workplaces comes at more than a financial cost. Executive director of Urban Land Institute Los Angeles Gail Goldberg was on the same panel with Smith and Cohen. She put things in perspective, using San Diego as an example. She said if that city keeps building parking based on current requirements, an increase of 1 million people (and the population will grow, she said) would require 37 square miles of new parking. That’s bigger than some of San Diego County’s smaller northern cities, like Encinitas.

Changes Can Happen Relatively Quickly, But Equity Remains Elusive

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin made two great points that elicited sustained applause from the audience. Bonin, a gay man married to his husband, analogized changes in societal attitudes toward transportation to be similar to those toward gay marriage. Bonin recalled that it was difficult to envision legal gay marriage only a decade ago, but that, building on decades of activism, a younger generation has led dramatic changes in acceptance, leading to widespread legalization. Bonin sees similar rapid change coming to transportation.  Read more…

No Comments

Long Beach To Put Downtown LB Bike Share Program Out To Bid

Someday my docking station will come.

Someday my docking station will come.

We have been waiting for bike share—for over two years. And it seems, Long Beach, that we are finally in the more tangible stages of receiving it.

According to Nathan Baird, Mobility Coordinator for the City of Long Beach, the City will be going out to bid in the next six weeks to pursue a bike share program that will be launched in Downtown. 50 stations, 500 bikes. The cost? $2.2M through a federal grant.

But what about Bike Nation, Long Beach’s proposed bike share vendor? The company had announced in August 2012 that they would invest some $12 million into a bike share program here in Long Beach was met with astounding cheers. At the time, they had expected some 250 kiosks—yes, 250—with the first ones to be installed in downtown by early 2013. It was touted as a free—yes, free—investment.

As for that whole thing, Baird responded succinctly: “That’s about as much info as I can provide right now.”

That we are now in 2015 and still have yet to find a single kiosk is more than eyebrow-raising. LA had to ditch Bike Nation after it was discovered that the bike share company did not know the advertising parameters set by the second-largest city in the U.S. This also follows their abrupt leave of their bike share program in Anaheim, where the City of Anaheim claimed Bike Nation “chose to walk out themselves.” This all precedes the cryptic photo of a skirt guard of one of the bikes for the long-anticipated bike share program promised to Long Beach. The caption on the skirt guard—”Long Beach, your bike is waiting”—silently and automatically creates a plethora of jokes. Then yet another photo, albeit still cryptic, of an array of permits issued to Bike Nation by the City of Long Beach. The caption? “Station permits for Long Beach have been issued. Stay tuned[.]”

Let us not forget that Bike Nation was finally kicked out of OC after lacking any form of viability: it generated a measly $5K in a year but cost about $100K.

Long Beach will apparently being joining Santa Monica, also pursuing its own bike share program, and Metro, who announced that they will be creating a county-wide bike share program.

Here’s to hoping, Long Beach.

 

No Comments

Streetsblog Talks Bike Share on KCRW 7pm Tonight

wwlaStreetsblog writer Joe Linton appears on KCRW’s Which Way L.A. tonight at 7p.m.

Host Warren Olney interviews Linton and city of Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait about bike share programs.

Metro is currently receiving bids for a 1000-bike downtown Los Angeles bike share system billed as a 2-year pilot. If all goes as expected, bikes will be on L.A. streets about a year from now. If it is successful downtown, then the system is expected to be expanded to various locales throughout L.A. County. Read SBLA’s recent preview article on Metro regional bike share.

The Orange County cities of Anaheim and Fullerton both recently pulled the plug on their unsuccessful small-scale trial bike share systems.

The interview will be broadcast at 89.9 on the F.M. dial and at the KCRW website. We will provide a direct link to the interview in tomorrow’s “Today’s Headlines” post.

19 Comments

Metro Regional Bike Share Expected To Open In Downtown L.A. In 2016

What does bike share have to do with walkability?

Metro is about to receive bids for its bike share system anticipated to arrive in Downtown Los Angeles in early 2016. Photo of NYC Citibike bike share by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro is moving forward with its regional bike share system, expected to debut in downtown Los Angeles in about a year. Metro released its bike share Request for Proposals (RFP) in December 2014, with bids due January 27. A bike share contract is expected to be awarded by June, with full implementation of a 1,000-bike system in downtown Los Angeles nine months later.

Metro’s RFP is for an initial two-year contract, with possible extensions up to seven years and expansions to nearly 4,000 bikes in expanded service areas.

Though the initial two years are funded, the overall funding picture is not entirely clear. Metro is soliciting competitive bids, so the agency cannot be too specific regarding system funding and cost. In July 2014, Metro’s board allocated $3.8 million for downtown L.A. bike share capital; those funds are from ExpressLanes tolling revenue. Metro officials also mention unspecified state and federal monies.

The initial two-year contract is likely to run somewhere in the ballpark of $10-$16 million. 

Metro will own the system, brand it, and manage it, via contractors, but the system will be located in host cities, which Metro will require to share costs. Initial capital costs are split 50/50 between Metro and the host cities. Operations and maintenance will be split, with 65 percent paid by the host city and 35 percent by Metro. The funding is already in place for the initial two-year downtown L.A. pilot, entirely in the city of Los Angeles. The split funding process could complicate later expansion to other municipalities, which tentatively include Huntington Park, Pasadena, West Hollywood, and unincorporated county communities of East L.A. and Marina Del Rey. (See expansion map below.)

Rounding out the funding picture will be some additional bike share system revenue from system users, including memberships (typically single-use, daily, monthly, and annual) and usage fees. Metro’s RFP specifies that “[a]dvertising or sponsorship revenue shall not be considered or included” (RFP, page 2-102) in the proposals.

What the Downtown L.A. Bike Share System Will Look Like

If the stars align, downtown Los Angeles could possibly see the first bikes on the ground in this calendar year. Read more…

10 Comments

Lessons from NYC: Key to Bike Share is Walkability

What does bike share have to do with walkability?

What does bike share have to do with walkability?

(This is the second in a series of lessons from this car-free Angeleno who found himself in NYC for a year. Read the introductory installment here.)

There’s a plannerspeak term: “first mile / last mile.” It generally refers to how to get folks to transit stops from actual destinations including home, work, stores, restaurants, and the like. Transit doesn’t offer point-to-point service (like walking, bicycling and driving), so there’s usually some other mode attached to the start and/or end of each transit trip. Most often it’s walking, but there’s also bicycling, shuttles, taxis, and more. Big transportation agencies including Metro and SCAG employ consultants to study and report on the first mile / last mile; see their results here and here. It’s a great issue to tackle. Streetsblog reports on the first mile / last mile every day, though we don’t use that terminology all that often.

Mayor Garcetti is pressing for a Los Angeles County-wide bike share system to be spearheaded by Metro. I am all for bike share, and the bigger the better… but… I’ve been thinking that there are some potential pitfalls.

Bike share, even at its densest concentrations, doesn’t quite offer point-to-point service. Which is to say that bike share potentially has a “first mile / last mile” problem… but it’s more like a “first couple blocks / last couple blocks” problem. Bike share trips start and end on foot, so the solution to the bike share first/last problem is walkability.  Read more…

Streetsblog NYC
View Comments

Bixi Bankruptcy: What Does It Mean for American Bike-Share?

The Montreal-based equipment supplier for several American bike-share systems, including Citi Bike, filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday. It’s unclear exactly how the restructuring or sale of the company known as Bixi will play out, but the bankruptcy filing could accelerate the transition to more robust and reliable hardware and software for Citi Bike and other systems. It also figures to be a messy process, though the company that operates Citi Bike expressed confidence today that it won’t impede their service.

Photo: Citi Bike

Bixi has always been a strange company. An offshoot of Montreal’s municipal parking contractor, it received significant financial backing from the city of Montreal. Bixi both operates bike-share systems in Canadian cities and runs a subsidiary that supplies bikes, stations, and other equipment to bike-share operators in New York, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, DC, and other cities. The subsidiary was supposed to be sold off to disentangle Montreal from Bixi’s business ventures, but according to the Times, two deals fell apart and a sale never happened.

The bankruptcy news is not unexpected. It’s most troubling for Montreal, which is owed several million dollars by Bixi, and for the other Canadian cities where Bixi runs bike-share systems. In New York and the cities where Bixi is a subcontractor, the restructuring or break-up of Bixi could be a blessing in disguise, helping to resolve some longstanding problems with the company’s product.

Until 2012, Bixi’s bike-share equipment ran on a software platform developed by 8D Technologies. That’s what Bixi was using when it bid on and won the NYC bike-share contract with Alta Bike-Share. But after an intellectual property dispute with 8D, Bixi went to a different firm to develop replacement software, and the systems that have launched since the switch — including Citi Bike, Divvy, and Bay-Area Bike-Share — have been plagued by delays, glitches, and inefficiencies. While the software has been updated to some extent, in New York, especially, it’s been a drag on operations and an obstacle to system expansion. Both Citi Bike and Divvy, in Chicago, are withholding payments to Bixi because the software is not up to snuff.

It’s not clear yet whether Bixi’s international operation will be restructured as a financially viable entity, or if it will be broken up. Bixi itself contracted out much of its manufacturing — including the bikes — so in the event that the company gets dissolved, American bike-share operators should be able to find suitable replacement suppliers. One company that’s potentially waiting in the wings is 8D, which has developed equipment including kiosks, docking units, and locking mechanisms to go along with its software.

Shifting from Bixi to different suppliers would be a challenging transition for bike-share operators, but it could appear seamless from the bike-share subscriber’s perspective.

For now, operators supplied by Bixi do not expect the bankruptcy to detract from the customer experience. “We are committed to a thriving and expanded Citi Bike system,” said Dani Simons of NYC Bicycle-Share, the subsidiary of Alta Bike-Share that runs Citi Bike. “We’re still sorting out the details but we don’t expect the news from Montreal to affect our operations in 2014.”

No Comments

Is Long Beach Looking to Roll Towards Bike Share without Bike Nation?

As Los Angeles quietly (but directly) abandons Bike Nation and Santa Monica pirouettes past both cities to pave the way for its city-wide bike share program, one can’t help but ask Long Beach: Are we continuing to go forward with a company which largely ignores the media, lacks a fulfillment of promises, and ultimately seems to wear a name tag it put on itself instead of earning?

No, really...is this going to happen? Image via Bike Nation

The answer is… Maybe?

According to Andrew Veis of Supervisor Don Knabe’s office—Knabe, it should be noted, also sponsored the motion in encouraging MTA to find a viable bike share partner—it’s all up in the air.

“At this time it’s too early to tell what the implications of a bike share program are for Long Beach,” Veis said. “The motion you refer to was calling for Metro to look at the feasibility of a bike share program to connect Metro stations. It is still too early to know what kind of connection this would have with Mayor Garcetti’s plans for a City of Los Angeles bike share program.”

Or maybe the answer is… Yeah, Bike Nation is the bike share guy for Long Beach.

It should be noted that Long Beach doesn’t face the advertising revenue issues that Bike Nation faces with Los Angeles, which perhaps explains Long Beach Deputy City Manager Tom Modica’s acknowledgement.

“In Long Beach, we want to move forward,” Modica said, “so we are continuing to work with Bike Nation through our no-cost agreement as they roll their program out. If there were a Countywide Bike Share program as proposed below, we would be interested in discussing with Metro to see how Long Beach could benefit and perhaps supplement what Bike Nation rolls out. To this point there has been lots of discussion about regional bike sharing programs, but none actually moving forward.” Read more…

17 Comments

Garcetti, Bonin, O’Connor, Zev, Knabe: It’s Time for Regional Bike Share

Bike Nation still has its supporters, but Mayor Garcetti's Plan B involves the creation of a regional system. Image from the April 2012 press conference via Bike Nation

In April of 2012, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood toe to toe with city staff and executives with Bike Nation and announced a city wide bike share system would be coming to Los Angeles within the next year. The system would rival New York’s now wildly-succesfull CitiBike system. Many cheered, many fretted and a few even steamed that announcing a deal with Bike Nation exploded the nascent discussions underway about a region-wide bike share system.

A year and a half later, Bike Nation is on the ropes and even Villaraigosa allies concede the agreement was a well-intentioned mistake. Los Angeles watched while its peer cities New York, Chicago and San Francisco/Bay Area launched their own bike share systems while Bike Nation was uprooting its partial pilot system in Anaheim.

Perhaps the final indignity was when Santa Monica announced it was readying its own bike share “request for proposal” its Council Members sounded somewhat overjoyed to be moving faster than the behemoth to the east.

But this time, Team Garcetti didn’t wait for the zombie to wreck the best-laid plans of his predecessor, this time he took action.

On Thursday, the Metro Executive Management and Audit Committee will hear a motion for staff to study best practices and recommend a plan of action for a regional bike share system. While Garcetti’s office authored the motion, they secured the support of Board Members who have worked on bike share issues in the recent past: Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor, and County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe.

“Mayor Garcetti believes we need a regional approach to transportation.,” writes Vicki Curry, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office. “Pursuing a countywide bicycle share program through MTA is the best way to create a seamless system that crosses city boundaries so residents can easily travel from Venice to Santa Monica or Eagle Rock to Glendale.”

The motion calls for Metro staff to report back at the January 2014 meeting, in just three months, with report to the Board at the with the results of a review of the bike share industry, including a business case analysis, and recommendations on proceeding with a Request for Proposals to implement a regional bicycle share program.

It should be noted that the team represents the three parts of the county that have been most interested in bike share: Los Angeles (Garcetti, Bonin and Yaroslavsky), Santa Monica (O’Connor and Yaroslavsky again) and Long Beach (Knabe). But the hope among the sponsors is that the region-wide plan will stretch beyond the county’s most bike-friendly cities into something larger. Read more…

30 Comments

As Cities Big and Small Move on Bike Share, LA and LB Wait for Bike Nation

It’s been no major secret that things with Bike Nation aren’t pedaling so well.

Following New York City’s successful launch of the Citibike bike share program —yes, successful even with its flaws—it remains disheartening that two of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation, Long Beach and Los Angeles, have yet to have their moment when they can share themselves (although there remains an irony that Portland is hitting many bumps as well).

The promises of delivered bicycles and bike kiosks by certain dates ultimately failed. Now it’s nigh impossible to get Bike Nation to provide new launch targets for their Los Angeles and Long Beach programs because they don’t want to disappoint (again).

The reason for the delay in Los Angeles? A (supposed) major company somehow not knowing the advertising parameters set by the second-largest city in the U.S.

Even worse is the criticism and issues that have faced the location it has actually managed to get kiosks into: Anaheim.

Anaheim didn’t receive the amount of kiosks it had been promised; instead of 10, it received three, despite multiple promises before the Bike Nation backed out of the city completely. Add this to bicyclists from Anaheim informing me that their kiosk became unworkable during the rain. Yes, we do have inclement weather in Southern California. Even though Bike Nation had a 24-hour service call line where they never received a complaint, they’ve yet to officially address the claim.

“The City of Anaheim did not walk out on the bike share program,” said Ruth Ruiz, spokesperson for the City of Anaheim. “They chose to walk out themselves.”

Granted: there were restrictions in Anaheim—in regard to advertising, permitting costs, and creating a program within a resort town (gotta love Disneyland). For a company that relies on revenue, these restrictions made the program unsustainable in both the short- and long-terms.

This enters a whole new arena of issues: Given Bike Nation continues to offer the costs of its programs, why would it would back out for… Costs it knew it had to uphold? Even more, what does this say about Bike Nation’s aforementioned issues with advertising revenue with Los Angeles (the other city, mind you, in which it has formed a we’ll-cover-the-costs agreement with, promising kiosk locations everywhere from Venice to Downtown)? Certainly one would hope—keyword being “hope”—that they wouldn’t back out, as they did with Anaheim, because of unforeseen costs that should fall under the umbrella of costs they claim to cover. Read more…