Wednesday, February 27, 2008

JCDecaux Chicago

JCDecaux wants Chicago.

According to an article titled "New option for city bike rental program" in the February 26 Chicago Sun-Times, JCDecaux has offered to renegotiate its 7-year old bus shelter, newspaper box, and kiosk deal with the city to incorporate a bike-sharing component. "The Daley administration is entertaining the offer from JCDecaux after a 'request for proposals' last year attracted only two competitors. Neither JCDecaux nor London-based OYBike met the mayor's mandate to operate a bike rental program 'at low-cost or no-cost' to Chicago taxpayers," the newspaper reports.

"Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, said he hopes the rental fee will be 'similar to Paris, where the first half-hour is free and it's $1.50 for every 30 minutes after that. It can't just be a bike rental for tourists. It has to be attractive financially -- and competitive with the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) -- so people see it as a true transportation option.'

The renegotiation would provide more bus shelters, newspaper boxes, and kiosks in order to pay for a bike-sharing fleet of 1,000 bikes at 80 downtown stations with reasonable usage fees.

The Second City is blossoming into one of America's most bike-friendly large cities and bike-sharing would push them closer to the goal of being the most. Um, how are things looking over there in the First City - New York?

image credit: Stuck in Customs

Bike-sharing Listserv

Whether you call it bike-sharing (with or without a hyphen or space), public-use bikes, public bikes, city bikes, community bikes, or just bike transit, there is a new listserv on the topic called World City Bike. "This moderated forum offers a flexible discussion space" for all things bike-sharing (my obvious preference for the concept). More information about this Yahoo! forum is available at

Sunday, February 24, 2008

SmartBike DC Program Website

At a recent presentation about the SmartBike DC program, it was announced the program will launch in Spring 2008. The program had been set for a March launch, however, there had been some minor setbacks due to the local power company wanting to meter each individual station rather than charge a flat rate per station.

According to the new SmartBike DC Website, bikes will be available from 6am - 10pm daily. While equivalent in operating hours with a bus or rail transit system, these hours are curious for an automated system and I could only guess what the rationale is - alcohol, crime? The bikes are certainly equipped with dynamo lights on the front and rear for safe night riding. As The Bike-sharing Blog reported on February 8 with data from Paris officials, a quarter of Velib's use is during the hours of 9pm - 3am. So it would seem prudent if D.C.'s program were kept open at all times with the goal being to encourage greater use as 25% is a substantial portion of ridership.

Customers will be able to use the bikes for up to 3 hours at a time. If returned after 3 hours, a penalty point will be assessed to the individual's account. After 3 penalty points, the customer is prevented from checking-out another bike. Additionally, there will be a $200 replacement fee for lost or stolen bikes. This is a generous policy for customers as it's more time than most of this program's sister cities offer. The downside of a longer check-out time is less turnover of the bikes and therefore fewer uses. Velib' data reports the average trip duration is 20 minutes for their 30-minute free period.

Stations will be located at Logan Circle, Metro Center, Dupont Circle, U Street, Shaw, Foggy Bottom, Gallery Place, McPherson Square, and Mt. Vernon Place. The closest distance between adjacent stations is about 0.2 mi (0.3 km), the furthest distance is 0.9 mi (1.5 km).

image credit: Wikipedia

Saturday, February 16, 2008

London Commits $1 Billion to Cycling & Walking

London mayor Ken Livingstone has instructed Transport for London to begin planning for a £500 million ($1 billion) "cycling and walking transformation" over the next decade, of which bike-sharing will be an important component. According to a press release from the Mayor's office, Transport for London is to deliver a bike-sharing program to central London beginning in Summer 2010 which will have 6,000 bikes available at stations every 900 feet (300 meters). This investment includes bike-sharing in a multi-pronged approach to improve cycling in London.

The goal of this effort - the greatest investment for bicycles in London's history according to the press release - is "to have one in ten Londoners making a round trip by bike each day, and saving some 1.6 million tons of CO2 per year as Londoners increasingly choose to walk or cycle for short trips instead of taking their car." A 10% bike mode share is highly respectable, however, only one-fourth of what bike capitals, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, have achieved, albeit with a longer head-start.

"By ensuring that Londoners have easy access to bikes in the centre of the capital, as well as making our city a safer and more enjoyable place to cycle, we will build upon London’s leading position as the only major world city to have achieved a switch from private car use to public transport, cycling and walking," said Mayor Livingstone.

The funding will also be applied to create about "a dozen radial Cycling Corridors for commuters to provide high-profile, easy to follow cycling streams into central London" and "the creation of a series of Bike Zones for shoppers and the school run."

No bike-sharing vendor was listed in the press release, nor was mention of whether an advertising component would be accepted. With the funding available, London likely will next release a tender and accept bids.

image credit:

Friday, February 8, 2008

Random Velib' Data

I shall call today's post "Random Velib' Data". In a recent email exchange with a Paris official, I learned about the following points regarding trips and subscriptions. There are a few surprising notes here.

Number of trips:

- In 6 months (July 15, 2007 - January 15, 2008) there have been 13.4 million trips or about 75,000 trips/day.

- Trips are highly weather-dependent. When the weather is cold and wet, Velib’ has 30,000 trips/day. When the weather is nice, Velib’ can have up to 140,000 trips/day.

- A large percentage of the overall trips are for commuting purposes.

- 25% of trips are from 9PM to 3AM. (Other transit modes run less frequently during these hours, so more reliance is placed on Velib'.)

- The average trip length is 20 minutes. This is about a 3-mile trip in an urban environment with traffic signals and stop signs.

- Only 8% of trips are greater than 30 minutes.

Number of subscriptions:

- 166,000 yearly subscriptions for $45 have been bought.

- In 6 months, about 205,000 tickets for weekly subscriptions for $7.50 and 2.5 million daily tickets for $1.50 have been bought. There is huge tourist demand.

photo credit: austinevan

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tel Aviv Releases Bike-sharing Tender

My contact in Tel Aviv reports the city's bike-sharing tender is out. It includes 1,200 bikes for the launch within a year and 1,500 in total with at least 150 stations. The term is for 10 years with an option for five more. The tender is now available in English on the Website of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Economic Development Authority Ltd.

image source: Wikipedia

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Potential of Bike-sharing in Lesser-developed Countries

What is
the potential of bike-sharing in lesser-developed countries? In many ways, the lesser- and greater-developed countries could approach bike-sharing in the same way. Most American cities as well as many European cities who are examining or have implemented bike-sharing programs have or had low bike mode share before bike-sharing. A sample of a few cities, such as Washington, D.C. with a bike commute mode share of about 1.75%, Seattle at 1.5%, and San Francisco at 0.95%, all have desires for bike-sharing. Many European cities with bike-sharing programs also had low bike mode shares before they launched, including Paris (1.6%) and Lyon (less than 1%). I would hazard a guess that lesser-developed countries would benefit equally from bike-sharing programs as long as equal public commitments were made into improving cycle facilities as has generally been the case in Europe.

Bike-sharing has drawn huge media attention in locations where it has been implemented and substantial interest elsewhere from what I've heard and seen. A recent advocacy effort in Philadelphia drew 400 citizens interested in the possibilities of a bike-sharing program in their city. The mayor was so impressed with the turn-out that a serious effort is now underway to examine the issue. Bike-sharing has created a virtuous cycle (pardon the pun) in increasing private bike use too. As bike-sharing develops a constituency user group, maybe then citizens in cities of lesser-developed countries would have an attachment to the program and to an improvement in their city's bike facilities. A local advocacy group need not be present to usher in a bike-sharing program but rather a mayor, elected official, government employee, or simply an interested citizen with a vision. This has been the case with Paris Mayor Delanoe and I'm seeing it happen in the U.S. too. I imagine the same could be true of bike-sharing programs to be implemented in lesser-developed countries.

It's the old chicken and egg issue, with which came first, the cyclist or the cycle track? With bike-sharing maybe it doesn't matter as it creates both.

image credit: Wikipedia