Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bike-sharing Wrap-up for 2008

This year has been another banner year for bike-sharing! Some time ago I made the prediction that bike-sharing would spread faster than any other mode of transit, but I’ve got whiplash at how fast the growth is happening. At this time last year there were 60 programs in existence. Now there are 92 bike-sharing programs up-and-running around the world with many more in various stages of planning for a 2009 launch. So that’s why it seemed like there was a new launch every other week - because there was!

This year has seen the first bike-sharing programs in North America, Asia, Australia, and South America. My hometown of Washington, D.C. launched North America’s first program with Denver and Montreal following a few weeks later. Asia kicked-off bike-sharing with Beijing, just in time for the Olympics, and then Shanghai. The Australian continent saw Kiwis begin service in Auckland. South America rounded out the year with Rio de Janiero and Santiago launching just before we change the calendars. The remainder of this year’s 24 programs started across Europe from Seville to Krakow. Africa has yet to launch a program, however, hopefully will do so in the upcoming year.

My predictions for 2009 are that bike-sharing will see another good year, despite the downturn in the global economy. Governments will have less money to spend on public services, however, in reviewing the cost of moving people (rather than of moving vehicles), they will see that bike-sharing strongly competes with other modes of transportation for short-distance trips. Accordingly, I predict 40 new programs will launch internationally next year.

Secondly, the provision of programs with advertising contracts has been the predominant vehicle to initiate services to date. Today, more companies producing off-the-shelf technologies exist. This will lead to programs which are not sponsored by advertising contracts, but rather by local governments and entrepreneurs. More cities with smaller populations, call them 2nd and 3rd tier cities, which couldn’t support large advertising contracts will see bike-sharing services.

Thirdly, university programs will take-off. There is intense interest coming from universities which have their own transportation needs and transportation budgets. Due to this, they have the ability to select the systems that best meet their needs and provide the density of bikes and stations the university requires, which the city in some cases couldn’t provide.

In a time when global climate change issues have never been more important, The Bike-sharing Blog is there to help citizen advocates, businesspeople, public officials, and others better understand what bike-sharing is and how it could be useful in their own communities. The Bike-sharing Blog continues to be the world’s number one source of information regarding this concept. Links to programs around the world, fascinating research and articles, and a translation widget helps make the information manageable and useful to its readers. I always want to make this even better, so your thoughts are always welcome. Thanks to many of its readers sending information about the happenings in their communities, I’m able to keep The Bike-sharing Blog and The Bike-sharing World Map up-to-date. This blog is more than a passion for me, it's part of a movement towards better transportation.

I want to thank you for reading The Bike-sharing Blog and here’s to a happy, healthy, and green 2009!

Paul DeMaio
MetroBike, LLC

Monday, December 29, 2008

Transportation Research Board Workshop - Jan. 11

If you'll be in the Washington, D.C. area this January 11, stop by the Transportation Research Board's workshop on bike-sharing. This event is open to the public and is guaranteed to be interesting. I'll be speaking on the panel about the status of bike-sharing systems in North America as well.

Here are the details about the event:

Workshop 168
Public Bicycle Systems: A New Approach to Urban Mobility
Sunday, January 11, 2009, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM, Hilton (1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW)
David Brook, Carsharing Consultant, presiding

Note: With the launch of the Paris Velib system, interest in public bicycle systems has skyrocketed in the past few years. Washington, DC and Montreal have launched their systems, and other cities are planning major programs. This workshop provides a detailed look at the role of public bicycles in urban mobility and discusses implementation considerations for planners. A round table discussion with speakers and guests will follow. At the end of the session, we will visit a nearby smart bike station.

New Mobility - How Public Bicycle Sharing Can Play an Important Role (P09-1331)
Sue Zielinski, University of Michigan

Status of Public Bike Systems in North America and Implementation Issues (P09-1333)
Paul DeMaio, MetroBike LLC

Findings from EasyConnect: A Public Shared Bike System (P09-1335)
Susan A. Shaheen, University of California, Berkeley

Bixi - Montreal Public Bicycle System (P09-1764)
Alain Ayotte, Stationnement de Montréal

Roundtable Discussion on Public Bike System Implementation and Policy (P09-1342)
Clayton Lane, Consultant

Bike Milan with BikeMi

BikeMi debuted this month in Milan with 100 stations and 1,200 bikes. The system expects 300 stations and 5,000 bikes by end of 2009. A yearly subscription of €25 is available offering the first 30 minutes at no charge with graduated rates for additional time. There is a plan for weekly and daily rates for residents and tourists according to My-Milan.

image credit: KataWeb

Thanks to Russell Meddin, Bike Share Philadelphia.

Monday, December 22, 2008

First South American Programs Underway

South America has launched not one, but two bike-sharing programs this month - in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and Santiago, Chile. Both programs were rushing to be the first on the continent, with respective launches on December 4th and 9th.

Rio’s system, Samba, launched with 30 bikes and three stations in Copacabana. By the end of December, the program will expand to have 80 bikes and eight stations, also in Copacabana. Each month the system will grow to a nearby neighborhood until at 15 months the program will be represented in eight neighborhoods with 500 bikes and 50 stations.

Presently, Samba is in testing with a limited group. In January 2009, the program will be opened to the general public. The first 30 minutes of use will be free for customers.

Providencia, a borough of Chile’s capital city, Santiago, launched b’easy with 100 bikes and 10 stations. The bikes are available from 7:30am to 8:30pm for up to one hour per use with a monthly subscription of $1.50 USD or a yearly subscription of $12.50 USD. Subscribers sign up either at a station or online. The system was created by Centrolniciativa, a business incubator, of the Economics Faculty of Diego Portales University. It uses locally fabricated bikes, stations, and subscription card readers. Mayor Cristián Labbé of Providencia hopes b’easy is adopted throughout the boroughs of the city.

Special thanks to Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the U.S. recently showed a program on bike-sharing in a series called e² which is "about the economies of being environmentally conscious." The synopsis: "Paris’ ambitious public-private Vélib’ bike initiative encourages residents to forgo cars for bikes and public transportation. In the process, the program has fostered a unique popular culture, complete with its own language, jokes and pick-up lines. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe has undoubtedly taken heart: Its success has inspired cities like Rome, San Francisco and London to begin adopting similar programs of their own."

A 3-minute excerpt from the program is available. The 30-minute program can also be streamed on-line. From the link, click on Webcasts and then Paris: Velo Liberte'.

image credit:

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

The folks in Barcelona aren't dreaming of a white Christmas, they prefer a green Christmas. As reported in WIRED, two Christmas "trees" in the city's square of Mercat Santa Catalina are being lit up by pedal power provided by passersby and Bicing bicycles.

image credit: WIRED

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

City of Ciclovia wants to be the City of Ciclovida

According to Elespectador, Councilman Carlos Ferreira Orlando of Bogotá, Columbia, wants to create "BIKE-BOGOTA", an Integrated Public Transport System in the Capital District to make an “urban revolution of two wheels.” This would include bike-share stations at subway and light rail stations, universities, colleges, and malls on or near the 350 kilometers of bike paths in the city. This bike-share system would use a prepaid rechargeable card from which the rental fee of each use would be deducted.

Image credit: Elespectador

Special thanks to Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Melbourne in the Works

From the Melbourne Herald Sun:

"MELBOURNE will get a European-style bicycle hire scheme for short trips made around town.

"The Victorian Transport Plan has committed $105 million (Australian dollars) for bicycle initiatives, with most spent on improving paths and lanes.

"Under the new Public Bicycle System, about 50 stations will be set up in the inner city housing 600 bikes.

"It is scheduled to be operational by 2010."

The article states there may be some funding issues to work out. Stay tuned...

image credit: AAHA-AUSTRALIA

Friday, December 5, 2008

The History of Bike-sharing

For those new to bike-sharing, an article I wrote for Carbusters Magazine called "The Bike-sharing Phenomenon - The History of Bike-sharing" provides a brief history of the concept from its earliest beginnings in 1964 Amsterdam as a radical movement to its latest incarnations as transit solutions to modern global problems. Check it out. It's a good introductory read.

Image credit: Carbusters Magazine

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Aloha Hawai'i

According to the Honolulu Advertiser the Hawai'ian island of O'ahu may see bike-sharing's launch as early as June 1. Momentum B-cycle, as the program will be called, will offer 100 bikes at 10 solar-powered stations. "The start-up cost is about $400,000 and will be privately funded", said Nguyen Le, owner of Momentum MultiSport Hawaii, the company that is behind the program's development.

The article states "the first half-hour of ride time will be free. The next half-hour costs riders $2, the next 30 minutes is $5 and so on. Billing will stop at $100, but if a bike isn't returned within 48 hours, the user's credit card will be billed the cost of the bike — currently $900."

"Another thing working in favor of Momentum B-cycle," says the article, "is the planned rail system. The city's master bike plan, scheduled to be released next summer, is expected to include bike paths near rail stops,' Chris Sayers, bicycle coordinator for the [Honolulu] Department of Transportation said.

" 'If rail is on schedule and the master bike plan is implemented, the two could come together with bike-sharing to make it easier to use mass transit,' " Sayers said. " 'With bike sharing you need critical mass to make it work. I know if it were available when transit comes I could see taking the rail to get to Kapolei, then bike-share over to the West O'ahu campus.' "

B-cycle is the newest product of healthcare provider Humana, which has improved upon its Freewheelin' bike-sharing system which was used at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in the U.S. during this past August and September.

image credit: Momentum MultiSport Hawaii