Wednesday, October 3, 2007
San Francisco - America's First Bike-sharing Town?
In the October 3rd San Francisco Chronicle, an article titled "S.F. moving to catch up with European bike-share programs" was about San Francisco's efforts to start bike-sharing. Clear Channel Adshel won the advertising rights on S.F.'s transit shelters and will be providing the bike-sharing service as part of this contract. I understand from the author of this report that a definitive number of neither bikes nor stations were not mentioned in the contract. Clear Channel won Washington, D.C.'s contract and will hopefully be starting a bike-sharing program with only 120 bikes at 10 stations, after two years of waiting... waiting.
Now that we're in a new era with programs in Europe that are measured in the thousands of bikes and hundreds of stations, it's absolutely necessary that American programs are measured in the same way. If a small program like D.C.'s fails (which I don't believe it will), it can't be said that bike-sharing in America doesn't work because America doesn't bike. This would be incorrect. A substantial program must be made to ensure that it succeeds. Velib' in Paris will carry as many passengers as the tram system by the end of the year when it has all 20,600 bikes up-and-running because an equal commitment was made to bike-sharing that was made to the tram.
Why shouldn't San Francisco have a bike-sharing program equal to Paris's? I don't see any reason why not? Paris had a bike mode share of 1.63% before Velib'; it's probably tripled or quadrupled since July. S.F.'s bike mode share was about 4% in 2003. This leads me to believe that bike-sharing would be even more well-used in S.F.
Paris has a population of about 2,200,000, or 107 people per bike-sharing bike. San Francisco has a population of 750,000, so why not have 7,000 bikes for the same ratio as Paris? This would make San Francisco's bike-sharing program the second largest in the world and deservedly so for the great city.