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Posts from the "Bike Sharing" Category

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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 14 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.”

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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…

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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…

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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…

Streetsblog NYC 13 Comments

Colbert Gets in on This Whole Rabinowitz Thing

It’s not quite as brilliant as Al Madrigal’s segment on the Daily Show last week, but Stephen Colbert’s riff on Dorothy Rabinowitz at the end of this clip is totally worth your time this morning.

Streetsblog NYC 17 Comments

“The Daily Show” on Citi Bike: “Doesn’t Anybody Have a Real Objection?”

Forget the ridership numbers: you know you’ve hit the big time when Jon Stewart and company spend a full nine minutes satirizing you at the top of “The Daily Show.”

The first segment, which leans heavily on the fact that European cities also have bike-share and pseudo-satirizes unfounded fears about the program’s safety, is funny while not exactly pro-bike. But the second segment, embedded above, is a needed laugh for New Yorkers who have endured nonsensical objections about bike-share from NIMBY neighbors and editorial board members alike.

Correspondent Al Madrigal traveled to the West Village to talk to people who object to bike-share in the pricey Manhattan neighborhood. ”Apart from the 159 meetings, they didn’t say a word,” Madrigal said to a man who claimed the stations appeared overnight and without warning. “Even though that’s not true,” Madrigal asked, “why is it?”

Madrigal also went to Bedford-Stuyvesant to hear from a man who complained that the program wasn’t expanded further into Brooklyn. Let’s just say Bed-Stuy’s residents come off looking a lot more reasonable — and also managed to pop a wheelie for the camera.

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Capital Bikeshare Members Reduced Their Driving 4.4 Million Miles Per Year

According to a survey of CaBi members, the average subscriber drove 198 fewer miles per year after joining the bike-share system. Photo: Capital Bikeshare

We’ve noted before that it can be challenging to figure out exactly how much driving is avoided when someone rides a bike. But here we have it straight from the horse’s mouth – nearly 7,000 horses, in fact. According to a November 2012 survey of Capital Bikeshare members, released today, the average subscriber drove 198 miles less per year after joining the system. Multiply that by 22,200 members and that’s 3.7 million pounds of CO2 that won’t get belched into the atmosphere. Nice work, CaBistas!

Some other takeaways from the member survey:

Capital Bikeshare both enhances access to transit and shifts trips away from transit. Almost a quarter of CaBi users had used bike-share to get to the bus in the past month, and 17 percent had used it six or more times to access the metro system. At the same time, transit is the mode most likely to get replaced with bike-share trips: 61 percent of respondents say they ride Metrorail less often and 52 percent ride a bus less often. On the plus side, though, 50 percent drive less often.

For any given trip, if bike-share hadn’t been available, 44 percent would have taken a bus or train, 38 percent would have walked, 5 percent would have ridden their own bike, and 4 percent would have driven.

Bike-share members drive less. According to the survey report, “a quarter (26 percent) reduced their driving miles since joining Capital Bikeshare; 11 percent reduced driving by more than 1,000 miles. Two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents who reported their mileage made no change in driving miles; only 9 percent increased their driving miles.” CaBi members were never big drivers, but they reported driving an average 1,805 miles per year before joining Capital Bikeshare and 1,607 miles per year since joining, “for a reduction of about 198 miles annually” per person – or a cumulative 4.4 million miles.

Of the 4.4 million miles not driven… more than half are commuting miles, which often occur at peak hours. That’s a significant amount of car traffic taken off Washington’s streets by these snazzy red bikes. In total, 58 percent of members use it to go to and from work, and 40 percent commute via bike-share “often.” All together, about half of bike-share trips are work-related.

CaBi saves members money. An average of $15.39 per week, in fact – or about $800 annually, per person.

Read more…

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Video: BikeShare.com Checks in on Bike Nation Anaheim

The team at BikeShare.com took a trip to Anaheim last week to look at the work completed on the first installment of Bike Nation’s Anaheim system. The above video goes into the pros and cons of Bike Nation’s design and of bicycling in Anaheim, but overall the review is pretty positive. As Matt Christensen writes on BikeShare.com:

Our journey taught us two things: First, Anaheim is not bike-friendly and, second, Bike Nation Anaheim is in its beta stage. Despite the nascence of the program and its auto-centric setting, we found the system’s components to be relatively easy to use and comfortable.

Which is not to say the review was universally positive. For example, many of the bicycles they tried were stuck in second gear and the kiosks weren’t large enough to fit all of the bicycles at their destination. But overall, they found the system easy to use and the bicycles comfortable to ride.

For more, check out the video above. Bike Nation is working on expanding the bike share system in Anaheim from 3 to 10 locations and creating systems in Tustin, Long Beach and Los Angeles.

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Bike Nation Announces Nine Kiosks for First Rollout of Los Angeles Bike Share in April 2013

Bike Nation announces 9 "target stations" for the first of several installations of the Bike Nation bike share program. Over the next five years, Bike Nation promises 400 docking stations and 4,000 bikes. Assuming the city doesn't veto any of the tentatively approved installations, this is map is the first nine stations. Image: Bike Nation

In just under an hour, Bike Nation will publicly announce the nine locations for kiosks in its initial rollout of what is promised to be a massive bike share system for Los Angeles. Last April, Bike Nation promised a 400 kiosk, 4,000 bike bike share system to be installed in Downtown Los Angeles, Westwood, Venice and Hollywood in the next several years. The bike share company promised to invest $16 million in its system. An independent estimate from one of their competitors estimates that they could earn $40 million in revenue in the next decade.

Apparently, they’re starting the rollout in Downtown Los Angeles. That makes sense, since 175 of the promised stations will be in Downtown Los Angeles. As shown above, the first nine kiosks are planned for:

  • Union Station
  • El Pueblo/Olvera Street
  • Caltrans Building (2)
  • City Hall (2)
  • County Hall of Administration Building
  • LAPD (2)

“We are excited to put stations on the ground in Downtown Los Angeles and begin the process of rolling out our bike share program and providing a safe, low-cost, healthy transportation alternative to Los Angeles residents,” writes Derek Fretheim, Bike Nation Chief Operating Officer. “The Company has already begun its site planning in anticipation of the City Council Motion and created a sample permit package consisting of initial station locations.”

Rather than go through a standard “Request for Proposal” process as has been done with the other large bike share systems in America, Bike Nation gave Los Angeles another option. Bike Nation approached the mayor’s office with a simple proposal, if Los Angeles creates a permitting system to operate private bike share on public property, then Bike Nation would invest in creating a private bike share system. Read more…