Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bike-sharing's Biggest Friend - Shanghai (or 16 Million Biggest Friends)

According to AFP, Shanghai began testing a bike-sharing system last Monday. "The programme was launched to coincide with World Car Free Day [..] and is part of the city's preparations to host the 2010 World Expo, whose theme is 'Better City, Better Life,' Shanghai Metro said.

"If successful, the programme will be expanded to 800 stands outside metro station exits and on 2,700 other sites in business and residential areas by 2012, the Shanghai Morning Post reported.

"To use the system, riders must pay a 200 yuan (29 dollars) deposit and are charged one to three yuan an hour on a progressive system designed to encourage short rents and quick turnover. The first half hour is free.

"The bicycles are being supplied by the Shanghai Forever Bicycle Company, one of Shanghai's oldest bicycle brands.

"Shanghai-made Forever, Phoenix and Flying Pigeon brand bicycles used to dominate the city's roads, but as China has become more affluent cars have taken over.

"The city recently banned bicycles from travelling on select major roads to prevent them from slowing down motorists."

The potential for bike-sharing in China is huge. According to People's Daily Online, China "had more than 660 cities by the end of 2002 of which 10 had populations of more than 4 million each in the urban area; 23, between 2 and 4 million; 138, between 1 and 2 million; 279, between 500,000 and 1 million; 171, between 200,000 and 500,000; and 39, less than 200,000." Cities with all these sizes, as well as those smaller than 200,000 residents, are capable of supporting bike-sharing. So with 660 cities plus likely a few more since 2002, governments have a clean slate to implement programs in a country that is known for once having one of, if not THE world's greatest cycle culture. The question which Earth's climate may very well depend on is can China bring back it's former glory as being a leader in bicycle use?

photo credit: Shanghai Daily

p.s. - It's interesting to note that Shanghai Metro is running the program. A transit agency running a bike transit program, what a concept!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Introducing Montreal's Bixi

On Sunday, September 21, Montreal's mayor Gérald Tremblay kicked off their city's newest transit service - Bixi - with 40 bikes at four stations for a 6-week free fall demonstration period before a grand launch next April 15 with 2,400 bikes. The program's name (sounds like "Dixie" with a B instead of a D), a combination of bicycle and taxi, was created by an individual in a public contest and voted on by the program's future customers.

"High-tech and vandalism-resistant, Montreal's bikes feature comfy seats, three speeds and raised handlebars, and will be stationed at solar-powered docking stations that can be moved according to demand. The first half-hour will be free, the next half hour $1.50, and successive half-hours get pricier; the objective is to use the bikes for short hauls," reports Canada's Globe and Mail.

Additionally, "The parking authority invested $15-million into Bixi, but says it expects to break even; 80 per cent of costs are expected to be defrayed through memberships, which would cost $78 a year or $28 a month." A 24-hour pass is available for $5.

Having recently visited Stationnement de Montreal (Montreal Parking) last month, I was quite impressed with their system and business model. They are one of the first bike-sharing service providers of which I'm aware that are not advertising-centric, but rather mobility-centric as with their other duties with managing Montreal's parking with the quasi-governmental organization. Other mobility providers like departments of transportation take note on this means of provision. This is a new model which I'm sure will do well.

Montrealais, enjoy.

photos credit: Stationnement de Montreal

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toronto Bike-sharing Forum

Following the lead of other clean transportation activist groups from around North America, the following is a press release, hot off the virtual presses, from the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation:

"On Thursday, September 18th, The Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation, the Clean Air Partnership
and the Community Bicycle Network will bring together a series of exciting presentations focused at sparking community discussion on public bike sharing in Toronto. We are excited to screen the short film Bike Share in Paris by Streetfilms, exploring the Vélib bike sharing revolution in Paris. Following the short film screening, we will be engaging the community in a stimulating discussion through a series of three presentations. Veolia Transportation’s David Boyce will give a presentation on the history of bike sharing systems and the OYBike street-based bicycle rental technology that is accessed via mobile phone. From a local angle, the Community Bicycle Network’s Herb van den Dool will offer an historical perspective on bike sharing in Toronto. Finally, Alain Ayotte will offer some insights on the challenges of
starting to implement North America’s largest and most promising bike sharing program in Montreal.

"This community forum will be coupled with a follow-up stakeholder roundtable, and a summary of both consultation
sessions will be submitted to the City of Toronto as a research report that will feed into the City’s process for planning a public bike sharing system.

"WHAT: Bikes as a Public Good: What is the future of public bike sharing in Toronto?
WHEN: Thursday September 18th, 7:30 pm
WHERE: Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto
(northwest corner of St. George Street and Sussex Avenue)
WHO: David Boyce, Veolia Transportation, USA
Herb van den Dool, BikeShare, Community Bicycle Network, Toronto
Alain Ayotte, Montreal Public Bike System, Stationnement de Montreal
Hosted by Dave Meslin

"For more information contact: Fred Sztabinski, Project Coordinator, Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation
(TCAT), 416-392-0290, info@torontocat.ca.

"For the full list of speakers, podcasts, and PowerPoint presentations visit: http://torontocat.ca/main/publicbikes."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Democrats Out-bike Republicans at Political Conventions

According to The Denver Post, "Nearly three times as many riders took advantage of the [Freewheelin'] bike-sharing program during the Democratic National Convention [(DNC)] in Denver than during the Republican counterpart in St. Paul, Minnesota, last week, according to program officials. About 5,550 riders pedaled 26,583 miles during the DNC, while 1,973 rode about 15,141 miles during the [Republican National Convention], the group Freewheelin reported Monday."

If this is the first you're reading on this, I posted about Freewheelin' earlier.

To be fair, it's worth pointing out that the first day of the Republican National Convention was substantially trimmed due to Hurricane Hanna. However, there is interestingly a gap between the ridership of the two parties at the conventions. Bicycling is not an issue to be politicized though. I'll follow that up with: as the Green Party says, "Neither left nor right, but ahead." Bicycling is an issue which helps societies move ahead.

Bicycling is a health issue. It's a mobility issue. An environmental issue. It's just fun. With Presidential elections in the U.S. just about 80 days away, it's time that bicycling gets the priority and funding it needs with the next person in the White House so that it becomes a respectable and safe mode of transportation for a lot of us United States-ers.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

You Betcha, Minneapolis & St. Paul

From a press release:

Announcing Twin Cities Bike Share Project

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has committed to bring bike sharing to the Twin Cities in 2009. The Proposed Phase 1 public bicycle sharing system will focus on downtown Minneapolis, the main campus of the University of Minnesota, and the Uptown neighborhood. The City has partnered with Metro Transit, the University of Minnesota, bicycle advocacy groups, and local bike shops to develop a proposed system design. That system will complement public transportation by making it possible for students and workers who commute by bus or train to get to class or to their next meeting by the fastest, healthiest, and most fun mode of transportation on downtown streets—the bicycle. For more information and to view a request for proposals, go to twincitiesbikeshare.com.