Showing posts with label bikeshare programs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bikeshare programs. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Sort of Bike Share ? Maybe

OFO and UNDP US-Launch Event
ofo bikes in New York City, not for use but for a press event (it seems)

Here is the press release about "UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], Chinese bike-sharing start-up ofo join forces to support innovative solutions to climate change challenges."

An article in the Economist ("The Return of Pedal Power...") last week described a new (to me at least, but not entirely new it seems) bike share system that frees users from having to get or leave the bikes from fixed locking stations, rather a rider gets to a destination and locks the bike wherever, then other users can find it there and access it for their use with a smartphone app.

The ofo system is in use in China and Singapore and also San Francisco - in SF it is known as BlueGoGo. Not surprisingly there is a web site.

The Bluegogo Medium channel has a step-by-step description of the process for San Francisco usage. However the SF model, apparently reflecting a lack of enthusiasm for the "leave your bike any old place" model in a US city, does have docking stations - "When you finish the ride, easily return your bluegogo bike to any of the stations (list of bluegogo stations can be found within the app or here) and lock it." Except the link to a map for the stations is 404. Not very encouraging.

U.S. video of how to use BlueGoGo bikeshare bikes, which does not mention use of locking stations

Generic ofo instructions for accessing a bike in China without a docking station


After I published this blog post, then I found this blog post that explains more about BlueGoGo and its dockless competitor that is a company called Spin which is looking at setting up in Seattle, where the most recent publicly operated bike share failed.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bike Share Pricing, Paris vs US

Me some years back with a Velibe bicycle in Paris

I am fortunate enough to have a trip planned to Paris in a week. I will be at some meetings at the national library for most of the week. Very nice. The hotel I will be at is about 3 km from the national library, along the Seine river. It is very easy to navigate back and forth using a bikeshare bike from Velibe.

I have already purchased my seven day subscription for Velibe when I will be in Paris. The cost is only 8 Euros for a week. By comparison, CitiBike in NYC is 9.95 (plus tax!) for one day and $25 (again, plus tax!) for a seven day "access pass." Capital Bikeshare here in the DC area is at once more and less - $7 for 24 hours but there is no seven day option, rather one can pay $15 for three days - uck. (Taxes are apparently included for Capital Bikeshare.)

The American view of pricing bikeshare is that the operational costs are supposed to more or less be covered by the user fees - but typically the short term rental folks are subsidizing those with annual subscriptions so it is all relative. In Paris they must be taking the view that bikeshare is more like public transit, where typically "the farebox" (revenue direct from users) is only a portion of the support. This so-called farebox recovery rate can be all over the place - in Austin Texas, it seems to be less than ten percent! - while in Chicago it is more than 50 percent. But for now Americans want bikeshare to pay for itself - 100 percent.

Hmm. Ironically my use of Velibe in Paris will be covered by the American taxpayer who will be funding this incidental expense of my trip, so the French taxpayer is, in this very very minor way, subsiding the US of A.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bike Share in Boston


I'm visiting Boston for work for a couple of days and have been using their bike share system. Here is the station in front of Boston Public Library.

I found out I would be traveling to Boston rather late so I ended up with a hotel about three miles from Boston Public Library where the meetings were held. There was a bike share station on Commonwealth Avenue about a third of a mile from the hotel and from there it was a straight shot most of the way on Commonwealth Avenue by bike to Boston Public Library. Commonwealth Avenue has a green painted bike lane most of the way. It was very nice, even on a heavy Bikeshare bike (or perhaps particularly on such a bike).

It takes a little getting used to, riding along on that busy a street with the busses in particular right along side. It seemed much better however than simple sharrows or sharing a traffic lane with motor vehicles. (I am not a follower of John Forester, in other words.)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Comparing Cycling in the U.S. and the Netherlands - Valid?

I am reading In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist" that turns out to be more of a history of this subject and less of a memoir than I was expecting. I will write a review of it when I am finished.

As someone who reads and thinks about how cycling could be better supported in the U.S., the Netherlands comes up as a model often, although I have to wonder about its validity as such. In some cases, people make comparisons or talk about aspects of cycling in the Netherlands and it isn't clear if they are holding the Netherlands approach up as a model or simply an example of how it can be different than it is here. The later seems more useful to me since the likelihood of our ending up with anything vaguely like what the Netherlands has to support urban (and interurban) cycling absent their 100+ history in this area along (not to mention all the other factors) seems rather low.

With that in mind, however, it can be interesting to look at examples of this "conversation."

Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective from this blogger

The above video provides a quick understanding of how at least one Dutch cyclist views the American approach to cycling. I don't disagree with any of this analysis as such but in a short overview like this he presumably includes those points that he considers most significant and leaves others out. In my own experience, it has been difficult to transition from an automobile-centered way of thinking to actually using bicycles for more routine day-to-day transportation needs. I have several bikes that I use for commuting the 20 miles round trip (~34 km) to and from work, but these bikes have pedals requiring special shoes and as road bikes are not very good for riding a mile to the grocery store or library for those kinds of errands. So for many years I have ridden a bike consistently to and from work over a fairly long distance, with special clothing and appearing to be in a great hurry (since this doubles as my exercise program) but then I drive very short distances to do things where I would want to arrive wearing street clothes. Kind of strange.

Recently I have started using another bike that is a much more upright one, with a three speed hub shift (and therefore incapable of speedsterish activity), to ride back and forth to places a mile or less away to do errands, without changing into some special cycling clothes. I have been surprised and I suppose a little amused at how enjoyable this is.

Capital Bikeshare arrives in my extendedneighborhood, but closer to my typical destination for short rides-still, nice to have it around

In a roundabout way of thinking, I feel that bikeshare programs, such as the Capital Bikeshare program here in the Washington DC area, are very helpful with modeling and enabling this kind of cycling.

"Infamous" video of bicycle commuters at an intersection in Ultrecht (not Amsterdam) illustrating the level of cycling in an urban setting in the Netherlands

This video serves as a counterpoint to the first video looking at cycling in the U.S., illustrating the significant differences in the scale of cycling as an activity. While I don't think the Netherlands can be our "model" for where we want cycling in the U.S. to end up, it certainly illustrates that cycling on a scale that rivals and even exceeds use of motor vehicles is possible and that specialized infrastructure (or as the video's narrator says, "infra") can be created to support that level of activity. (It's noteworthy that the Dutch observer in his video takes the benefits of specialized infrastructure to support cycling as a given - no "vehicular cycling" for him.)

It's also interesting to see how the Dutch cyclists comply with their traffic signals in this video, for the most part. At a few points there are riders who ignore the light, but the vast majority comply.

This syncs with a recent report that in Portland stoplight cameras studied showed that there was 94 percent compliance with stop lights by cyclists. What?? Really?? Yes. Of course the obvious reason for why this could be true in Portland (and not quite what I observe around here) is that they have a larger number of cyclists and that as a community they act to informally enforce or support good (or anyway legal) behavior while in situations that I see often here of one or two cyclists and a zillion cars, it is much more tempting or attractive not to.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Online Book About Bikesharing Programs

Public bikesharing in North America : early operator and user understanding

Available here as a PDF.

A few bikes are "checked out"
Capital Bikeshare station in Arlington

LCCN permalink:
Type of material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Personal name: Shaheen, Susan A., 1966-
Main title: Public bikesharing in North America : early operator and user understanding / Susan A. Shaheen ... [et al.].
Published/Created: San Jose, CA : Mineta Transportation Institute, College of Business, San Joseƌ State University ; [Springfield, VA : Available through the National Technical Information Service, c2012.
Description: xiv, 138 p. : ill., maps ; 28 cm.

This is a "high level" review of the topic. It's good that it covers all possible issues and provides summary breakdowns in many categories but from this you usually won't know what the situation is with a particular bikeshare system for any particular category.

Monday, April 16, 2012

LA Gets the Shaft (Drive Bikeshare Bikes)

The LA Times has an article about a new bikeshare program in Los Angeles: "Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will unveil a $16-million bike-share program Sunday that aims to put thousands of bicycles at hundreds of rental kiosks across the city."

Much of how the LA bikeshare program will be structured is like Capital Bikeshare (which isn't particularly surprising) however the bikes themselves are fairly different. I don't really get how the company, Bike Nation, makes money at this - they pick up the entire capital investment cost (the sixteen million bucks). Here is another description of the business aspects - the comments are fairly interesting.

BikeShare Bike Patent
It appears this patent is for the Bike Nation bikeshare bike, with airless tires, shaft drive, and absurd basket (but not with final design's step through frame)

To me the technical aspects of the Bike Nation bikeshare bike are the most interesting. The LA Times article notes that, "The bicycles are made without a chain and have special tires to reduce the possibility that they will get a flat or break down during their trip."

Opinionated as I may be (for someone who doesn't really know that much), I do not have strong feelings about the airless tire business. Sheldon Brown, some years ago, didn't express much enthusiasm, noting that, "Airless tires have been obsolete for over a century, but crackpot 'inventors' keep trying to bring them back. They are heavy, slow and give a harsh ride. They are also likely to cause wheel damage, due to their poor cushioning ability. A pneumatic tire uses all of the air in the whole tube as a shock absorber, while foam-type 'airless' tires/tubes only use the air in the immediate area of impact." However it doesn't seem impossible that someone clever could come up with a design that could do a decent job with shock absorbing and not add much weight or performance problems. It does appear that most airless tires to date are not very easy to get on or on the wheel rim, but for a bikeshare bike that would be a mechanic's problem.

I have much less enthusiasm for the shaft drive idea.

The Bike Nation bike doesn't use a traditional chain but rather a shaft drive. Shaft drives have been around since the 1890s but never really caught on since they are (a) more expensive, and (b) less efficient. Also, taking a rear wheel off a bike with a shaft drive is going to be more annoying to repair a flat than a standard chain bike (but of course not a problem there with airless tires!).

Shaft Drive patent, 1894
Shaft drive bikes have been around . . . practically forever

Shaft drive intuitively seemed to some like a great idea compared to "dirty" traditional chains, but they never became popular. For motorcycles somewhat, for bicycles no. That doesn't mean that various bike companies haven't tried to bring it back from time to time . . .

Eventually Bike Nation will supply more info about "What’s so special about the Bike Nation bicycle?" but for now, the link for "more info here" doesn't work. (Perhaps they are still doing research.)

Me & a Rental Bike in Paris
A bikeshare program bike in Paris, with a chain and air-filled tires - but what do the French know about cycling

Also, the French bikeshare bike has a deep basket, while the LA bikeshare bike has a flat shallow basket. I guess with bungee cords stuff could be made to stay in the basket.