Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tea for Two and Two for Taiwan

This month has seen the launch of two bike-sharing programs in Taiwan - the first in the southern port town of Kaohsiung City, called C-bike, and the second in Taipei, called YouBike.

In Kaohsiung, the service (pictured above) offers 1,500 bikes and 20 stations with plans to expand to 4,500 bikes and 50 stations by the end of May. According to the Kaohsiung City press release, "The system has been constructed on a build- operate-transfer (BOT) basis at a cost of NT$90 million ($2.58 million). Some NT$15 million ($444,000) was put up by both the EPA's air pollution control fund and the city government, and another NT$60 million ($1.77 million) came from the central government's economic stimulus package. Tung Li Development Co. has been commissioned by the government to operate the system over the next five years.

"Members will be able to use the bike for free for the first 30 minutes and will be charged NT$10 ($0.30) for each subsequent 30-minute period for a maximum of NT$230 ($6.80) for 12+ hours."

Taipei's YouBike presently has five stations with an indeterminate number of bikes from the Website (anybody know?). The first 30 minutes are free with additional time at NT$10 ($0.30) per 30 minute period.

Congratulations, Taiwan!

image credits: Yam Blog and David on Formosa

Monday, March 16, 2009

Denver B-Cycle Displayed in Austin

Alex Bogusky, Co-Chairman of Crispin Porter+Bogusky showed off this prototype bike of the new B-cycle Denver program at the South by Southwest Music, Film, and Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas on March 13. This summer the system is planned to launch with 500 bikes on top of Denver’s current 30-bike city employee B-cycle pilot program.

More North American bike-sharing news: The launch of Montréal’s Bixi is set for May Day 2009. It will be the second and by far the largest 3rd generation bike-sharing program in North America with 3,000 bikes. Washington, D.C.'s program is hoping to expand to 600 bikes with 50 stations this year. Minneapolis’ NiceRide 1,000-bike system’s launch has been pushed back from Spring/Summer 2009 to Spring 2010 according to an NPR interview with Bill Dossett of NiceRide.

Russell Meddin www.bikesharephiladelphia.org

Photo source: Hugger Industries

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cemusa Closes Roma'n'Bike Due to Rome Government Delays

According to The Roman Forum, Rome's nascent bike-sharing program, Roma'n'Bike, has had the plug pulled by its operator, outdoor advertising company Cemusa.

States The Roman Forum, "Following July last’s inauguration the Spain-based multinational specialising in outdoor public furniture, pulled out of its out-of-pocket sponsorship lamenting the municipal administration’s delays in regulating what should have ultimately turned into a privately run – although competitively priced – bike rental scheme.

"Nine months into the scheme – and almost three months after the expiry of six-month long free trials – Cemusa has – reports daily La Repubblica – tired of the Municipal administration’s ‘dithering’ on the subject of a formal contract.

"Faced with such assertive cold-shouldering mayor Alemanno has pledged to patch things up with Cemusa or, alternatively, hand management of the service over to the city’s public transport company ATAC. Biking associations have threatened to stage a ‘saddled’ protest tomorrow, kicking off at 11 a.m. from Piazza di Spagna."

image credit: Fang Yuxiang

Update as of March 17: Thanks to Blog fan Michele Iurilli, Abitare a Roma reports that due to the public uproar about losing the bike-sharing service, Cemusa changed its mind and is keeping the service running. A meeting was convened by the Office of the Mayor and Cemusa to resolve the matter by the end of March.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bike-sharing in Hangzhou, China

Better late than never at The Bike-sharing Blog! According to Blog reader Angela Zhang, Hangzhou is China's first city with bike-sharing with a program that started this past May 1, 2008. Called Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service, the program is sponsored by the local government. Starting with 8,100 bikes at 61 stations and now having 10,000 bikes at 350 stations, with stations roughly every 200 meters, this program is one of the largest in the world. Zhang says the local government wants to have 50,000 bikes at 2,000 stations by the end of 2009. Also according to Zhang, between September 16 and December 31, 2008, there were 2.14 million rentals with the highest daily rental being 27,045 times in a day.

"To rent a bike, people need to use their residential card or ID card to become a member and they need to pay 200 CNY ($29) as a deposit," says Zhang. The service is free for the first hour 2 CNY ($0.29) for the second hour, and 3 CNY ($0.43) per hour if more than three hours.

Source: Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service (in Chinese) and (in English although not too helpful)

Image credit: Angela Zhang

Correction: When the program reaches 50,000 bikes, it will then have stations every 200 meters. Likely by the end of 2009, Hangzhou will be the bike-sharing capital of China and the world. Look out, Paris!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Let's Stimulate with a Major Bike-sharing Program

The following post is by David Alpert and from Greater Greater Washington:

Arlington hopes to launch a bike sharing pilot this year. DC plans to expand its 120-bike, 10-station SmartBike program by another ten stations as well. That would be great. But at the recent DDOT oversight hearing, Mount Pleasant ANC Commissioner and bike and pedestrian advocate Phil Lepanto asked, why not 50 new DC stations this year, and another 50 every year? Or more?

To really make bike sharing work for everyone, systems need to have bikes in a wide range of locations. A station at the Reeves Center and one at Dupont is nice and useful for people who work on U Street and live on the Red Line, but to serve everyone, we need stations within a couple blocks of most places people want to go. And as Lepanto pointed out in the hearing, we also need stations where a lot of people live but where there's no Metro. Finally, we ought to have a one-day pricing plan and stations at all the major tourist destinations.

Paris's Vélib has 20,000 bicycles in 1,450 stations, with stations in the city center averaging only 300 meters apart. Now, anyone walking around Paris sees Vélib bikes everywhere. Bike sharing experts say systems should ideally have one bike per 150 residents. That means DC ought to have about 4,000 bikes, and Arlington around 1,400.

Top: Vélib stations in a portion of central Paris. Bottom: The entire SmartBike D.C. system
(This official Google Map is also inaccurate.)

The biggest obstacle is startup cost. Systems cost very little to maintain, since subscription fees and ads cover most of the operating and replacement cost. But cities have to build the system in the first place.

Can the stimulus help? The main pots of money don't work for bike sharing, since the stimulus focused on existing, long-established ways of spending transportation dollars. However, there's a $1.5 billion "discretionary grant" program. States and localities can apply for money for programs that improve transportation but aren't otherwise funded. The catch: projects have to cost $20-300 million. Arlington currently has a grant of about $200,000 for their planned pilot, according to an Examiner article last year, though Arlington Commuter Services head Chris Hamilton says they're hoping to find more money to start with a bigger system. A maximal system of 1,400 bikes of the fancier kind DC uses, he said, would cost at most $6 million for capital and operating costs for the first two years.

We could hit the $20 million mark if a group of jurisdictions joined together. If 1,400 Arlington bikes could hit $6 million, a 5,000-bike super-program in DC and Arlington might be able to meet the minimum. Or how about a regional system including Alexandria, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Hyattsville, College Park and more? The total cost would be a lot less than just scaling up Arlington's numbers linearly, because bigger systems achieve greater economies of scale. The region could get a lot more bikes for lower cost with a big system.

We could also team up with other areas. Denver and San Francisco have been talking about setting up their own bike sharing programs. How about a bike sharing consortium? All of the regions could use the same technology, getting even more competitive rates from a vendor. And then, perhaps, if you're already a member in one city, that membership could automatically allow you to take out bikes when visiting other cities.

Such a program would yield a lot of sexy headlines and ribbon-cuttings across the nation. Plus, they'd create jobs building, managing, and maintaining the systems. And once we've got large numbers of Americans finding bike sharing as convenient and useful as the Parisians have, existing cities will want to keep expanding and new cities will want to start their own programs, creating jobs and reducing our vehicular emissions, oil dependence, and obesity.

Boston Region Releases Tender

Like their beloved Red Sox, the City of Boston entered Spring Training! Well, bike-sharing Spring Training with the goal of joining the Big Leagues in Spring 2010. Mayor Menino & Boston Bikes announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a bike-share program.

Bike-sharing is part of Mayor Menino's vision to create a more vibrant, healthy, and green Boston. Menino said, "Successful bike-sharing programs in Europe have not only established biking as a significant means of transportation; they have transformed the entire culture and mindset around transportation." The RFP is for 1,500 bikes and 150 stations for the spring of 2010, but with the idea to expand to 6,000 bikes and 600 stations for Metro Boston. The goal of the program is to eliminate up to 315,000 car trips annually, reduce 750 tons of greenhouse gases, increase bike trips by 300%, and to create of over 50 new green jobs!

The RFP was released by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council of the Boston region. Being a regional tender will help their eventual program cross jurisdictional borders without any problems. A wise idea for other jurisdictions considering bike-sharing. - editor

Russell Meddin, Bike Share Philadelphia

image credit: Team on Top

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Velo-city 2009 Bike-sharing Session

Make your plans now for the Velo-city 2009 conference in Brussels. This is THE international bicycle conference for planners, engineers, advocates, educators, and social marketers which will be held May 12 - 15. There is a special bike-sharing session on May 14 titled "Public bicycles: a temporary hype or a new urban transport means?" (session 5.2) which includes the following presenters:

Chair: Sebastian Bührman - Ruprecht consult,
Esther Anaya - "Spain - Public bikes in Spain, a catalyst for daily cycle use?",
Sara Basterfield and German Dector-Vega - Cyclists' Touring Club/Transport for London - "OBIS project bicycle sharing in Europe. What is possible or not?", and
Paul DeMaio - MetroBike LLC - "Bike-sharing: It's History and Future".

The presentations are bound to be interesting, how could they not - it's bike-sharing!

Register for the day or for the entire conference. It ain't cheap, but it's worth the price. If you happen to find yourself in Brussels for the day, bike on over to Velo-city. I hope to see you there.

image credit: Velo-city 2009

São Paulo's UseBike

Launching around Car-Free Day this past September to the general public, São Paulo, Brazil now has UseBike. Funded by one of Brazil's largest insurance companies, Porto Seguro, UseBike has 202 bikes and 23 stations. This program started off open to only Porto Seguro customers, but has since opened to the general public.

The first hour is free and afterwards UseBike costs 2 Brazilian Reais ($0.85 USD) for each additional hour. The service can be used between 6am and 10pm daily. Since September 27 when the program launched for the public, the system has created over 2,600 customers.

Special thanks to Leandro Valverdes and Hélio Wicher Neto for their contributions.

Image credit: UseBike via Fernanda Prevedello - Játálá - Blog