A fleet of bike-share bikes in D.C.v Photo credit: DDOTDC
It seems like not a week goes by without a U.S. city announcing plans for a bike-sharing program, a system which allows the public to rent bikes for utilitarian trips around urban cores – instead of waiting for a bus, walking, paying for taxi or driving in congestion and looking for parking. From New York City to Portland, bike-sharing fever is sweeping the nation, coast to coast.
Here in California, however, it wasn’t bike friendly San Francisco that was first to receive bike-share– it was rather the unlikely Southern California city Anaheim, home of Disneyland. As bike-share systems are planned in many cities and regions throughout California, the California Bicycle Coalition has offered three ideas on how to make the system work the best it possibly can here in the Golden State.
1. Bike share systems must be compatible on a statewide level
“Bike share systems must stress compatibility on all levels, starting with transit passes such as the Clipper Card used by transit agencies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Californians with a bike share account should be able to universally undock a bicycle, no matter the city or the vendor. Similarly, cities considering a bike share system should be free to select the vendor that works best for them – and not feel pressure to select the bike share vendor in an adjacent city because the systems may not match.”
2. Bike share must be ridership-driven, not advertiser-driven
“Many vendors make bike share pencil out by utilizing the ability of bicycles and docking stations to double as advertising space. While there is nothing wrong with that, bike share vendors in the past have been more interested in maximizing advertising dollars than ridership. Bike share will be sustainable only if ridership takes precedent.”
3. Vendors must adopt an open data format
Bike share bikes are all outfitted with a GPS unit or radio-frequency identification chips called RFIDs, which gather user data. Useful data about bicyclist travel patterns are few and far between; information gathered from bike share systems represent a quantum leap forward for bicycle planners and decision makers.
Are you excited about bike-sharing opportunities coming to the Bay Area? Have you tried bike-share systems elsewhere that worked well?