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bike share press conference this monday @11am, bksq

This topic contains 87 replies, has 23 voices, and was last updated by  edmonds59 1 yr, 2 mos.

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byogman

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Mar 12 2013 at 2:40pm #

Thanks WillB, reddan

Bit about low barriers is a concern, but far less so in the age of cheap phones, esp. if you have a basic SMS interface, too. A simple web interface for folks without even that who’d presumably be reserving from a library computer would also be nice. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s probably good enough.

Visibility is easy, that’s paint.

Locking is an interesting mixed bag. U-locks are not quite as easy as just rolling the bike in, but the benefit of more standard locking is the ability to use standard bike parking, which seems a pretty significant offsetting win to me.

As for giving people the ability to open the locks, the combo comes back when they reserve. Combos can be reset, probably not with perfect ease when the bike is parked at its optimal station, but while in transit from sub-optimal station to its optimal station, sure.

It’s not perfectly secure, but that’s what the “lojack” is for, the suspenders in the belt and suspenders approach. Need not be complex, or even new at all. Here’s one: http://www.gizmag.com/spybike-gps-tracker/22999/.

The central server software is need not be that complex either. I could develop and roll it out if someone wanted to pay me to do it.
It may be naivete, but I think this all lines up quite well enough to work and there’s no piece of it that’s terribly costly, not even the software if you consider it on a per bike basis.

The number of bikes and stations doesn’t matter if people don’t want to ride them, but I think the number of bikes and stations is the most critical factor in whether people will want to ride them. Above all else they’re trying to get from A to B. Launching an app to make the reservation and get a combo to use on a U-lock is a little slower than swiping a card sure, but it’s not that bad, especially if you record credit card info in the app. Better than walking several more minutes to get to something prettier IMHO.


scott

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Mar 12 2013 at 2:45pm #

The whole thing has to go out to RFP so there’s a chance that this type of system could be selected that byogman is talking about, but some of the main criteria that is selected on per the RFP is: Is this type of system implemented and successful elsewhere? What are the revenue streams (how do you sponsor one of these bikes especially w/o a kiosk)? Can people without smart phones still use the system (will people know where the bikes are?) Will the bikes be easily to maintain? Will the bikes fit the majority of people trying to access the system? Will the bikes be easily traceable to the person who checked it out so if it goes missing the person can be charged?

I have read about an idea like this that can essentially make any bike into a bike share bike, but I have yet to see it work in the real world.


Swalfoort

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Mar 12 2013 at 2:52pm #

The basic problem I have with the Byogman model is that I think it tries to improve upon the Parisian colored bikes model by implying a degree of recoverability (through the use of Lojack), but the actual recovery process is not well thought through.

Ok, so a bike is rented. Using the type of model weblinked above, a tracker is activated. They don’t return the bike. Someone, presumably a Bike Share employee, has the ability to track the bike. Then what? Vigilante style bike recovery? Or call in the local police? Will they really cooperate? Do you want a system that relies on them? What about the increased burden on their time and resources. Isn’t that a cost of operating the system? And how long would it take a committed thief to figure out the lojack thing and remove/dismantle it. Once they have that skill, the entire fleet is open too them.

(and let’s not go into the “what? there’s a tracker that will monitor where I go? That’s an invasion of privacy issue…. debate. So, to get around that, let’s presume that you have a tracking device that knows to turn itself on 30 minutes after a bike has not been returned, or something, to protect the innocent….)


byogman

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Mar 12 2013 at 3:02pm #

Thanks for these details.

Is this type of system implemented and successful elsewhere?
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Not yet :)
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What are the revenue streams (how do you sponsor one of these bikes especially w/o a kiosk)?
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Not sure what sponsorship means here, please elaborate.
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Can people without smart phones still use the system (will people know where the bikes are?)
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With an SMS interface, a basic cell phone will do, and there’s the library. Not ideal (esp the library) but the importance of this declines over time and is already fairly low except among senior citizens. http://pewinternet.org/Infographics/2011/Generations-and-cell-phones.aspx
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Will the bikes be easily to maintain?
Will the bikes fit the majority of people trying to access the system?

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The tech is agnostic to the bike, so no difference unless other solution locks you into something bad.
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Will the bikes be easily traceable to the person who checked it out so if it goes missing the person can be charged?

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Yes, and this tells you that a bike has gone missing sooner. Not when next rider shows up, but immediately and in real time when it starts moving from its station without a reservation.
>


WillB

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Mar 12 2013 at 3:20pm #

byogman wrote:With an SMS interface, a basic cell phone will do, and there’s the library.

You want people to go to a library to reserve the bike? The idea is that they should be able to rent the bike to go to the library. And I really have a hard time imagining how you could carry out a complex credit card/registration transaction via SMS. There are an awful lot of “it’s not perfect, but” components in your plan. That adds up to a lot of people not using the system. People need to be able to walk up to a docking station on a whim and have a bike in a minute or so, like getting a subway ticket in DC or NYC.


reddan

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Mar 12 2013 at 3:32pm #

@byogman: Two questions:

1) What loJack-style device are you suggesting is used in the bikes for tracking purposes? I’m not aware of any products that can be centrally controlled in the manner you’ve described. The one you linked above, for example, uses a dedicated electronic keyfob to activate and deactivate it; the remote activation via SMS is only checked every six hours.

2) What locking system are you referring to, with regards to changing combinations ‘while the bike is in transit?’ Is it a standard U-lock permanently fastened to the bike, and a low-tech approach of “tell the central system what the new combo is, whenever I reset it by hand” is taken by whatever person is shuttling the bikes around? This strikes me as highly error-prone, and likely to result in bikes locked up that people can’t unlock…a real problem, especially if one is being charged for the privilege of getting an SMS message with an invalid lock combination.

Again, I’m not trying to put a damper on your ideas, but I’m not entirely sure what specific problems with the current proposal you’re trying to solve. A homebrew system could certainly be put together, but what specific (e.g. “save $XYZ per bike”) benefits are to be garnered by that approach, versus a proven system?


byogman

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Mar 12 2013 at 3:38pm #

We start with a U-lock on this thing with a secure combo. So, that’s not perfect by any means, but it is what most of us rely on every day. The lojack is just an additional layer of security over and above this and the turnkey solution.

There is legitimacy to concerns over anything not yet demonstrated. I just am naturally a thrifty guy and couldn’t help but share my own thoughts on how to do this much cheaper. I do think the pieces do fit together well enough to make a complete solution possible.

It’s still thought experiment territory at the moment. But Scott, if you think a RFP could have a chance even if unproven and sans kiosk interface I’ll see if I can make some contacts and bake this a little better.


Ahlir

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Mar 12 2013 at 3:38pm #


Maintenance is going to be super-critical. If someone goes to use the system and happens upon a bike with a flat tire or is just creaky or out of whack, that is the impression of the system that they are going to be left with, and they’re done.

Actually, you very quickly learn to check a bike over before taking it (eg, does it have working brakes); find one working bike is enough (yes, I know, what if you’re too late for the good ones). I’ve seen repair trucks riding around and stopping to fix bikes on the rack (Paris, I think).

It’s all doable.

Bike rack in the rain… Yes, each one with a little green “available” light.


byogman

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Mar 12 2013 at 4:07pm #

“The one (loJack-style device) you linked above, for example, uses a dedicated electronic keyfob to activate and deactivate it; the remote activation via SMS is only checked every six hours”

True. I’m guessing but don’t know at this point that it could be changed for a project of this scale at somewhat reasonable cost. In particular, when someone “checks in” their bike the server sends off this message to capture the location and verify the check-in is at a secure location.

“What locking system are you referring to, with regards to changing combinations ‘while the bike is in transit?”.

I need to do digging on the locking options. Manual is always error prone and better to avoid if possible, for sure. But I don’t think prohibitively so if it came down to it, especially with a standardized means of reporting bad combos and being given a healthy system credit badness is confirmed at next pickup.

“There are an awful lot of “it’s not perfect, but” components in your plan. ”

True, but lower start up costs and/or vastly more bikes don’t come without some trade offs.

“That adds up to a lot of people not using the system. ”

I think it’s debatable whether having a more polished looking system or more bikes at more locations is really more important. They’re just important in different ways. I lean toward the latter because I could never imagine wanting to walk past an available bike with a U-lock to get to one at a station myself, and given that the trend-lines in technology adoption have already resolved the basic accessibility question for the strong majority of candidate users and the swift rise of smartphones is making the seamlessness advantage diminish over time.


edmonds59

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Mar 12 2013 at 4:39pm #

Oh, don’t start showing me fuzzy soft focus pictures of Paris at night, I’ll get ennui.


unicyclemike

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Mar 13 2013 at 9:22am #

What I do not fully understand about the “station-less” bike share concept is how they manage zones for the bikes and how the insure people lock bikes up properly.

Say you rent a bike and decide to take it out the GAP trail for an hour and lock it up in Boston PA to meet a friend for lunch (and get a ride home with them). Is this OK? From what I have seen you would have to pay a “small” fee for parking outside of the bike share zone. How do you define this acceptable zone all over the city?

For instance, is it ok to park it in front of your house locked to a tree in Greenfield (Any Neighborhood) far away from a business district?

What if you lock to chain link fences?


byogman

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Mar 13 2013 at 10:26am #

“What I do not fully understand about the “station-less” bike share concept is how they manage zones for the bikes and how the insure people lock bikes up properly.”

The check-in I described, combined with ping of gps location and active gps monitoring if there’s a vibration before the next reservation functions roughly like dock-ing at the station.

People can and will lock their bikes improperly sometimes and the gps monitoring device could be removed by someone determined. But I’d be surprised if the security of the docking stations couldn’t also be undermined, and then the thief gets as many as 10 bikes for his trouble instead of 1. Also, in the case of the vibration triggered gps monitored bikes, there should be only so much time for the thief to work since repeated vibration sensing on an unrented bike would be suspicious. Maybe there’s also a way to wire something in the bike and get the gps to broadcast a distress disconnected signal, too. There we’re getting out of what the product does today, so pure speculation, but something I’ll ask the vendor.

I also think you’d have less theft in the case of the system I’m proposing also because you could afford more bikes and stations or just use regular bike racks mid reservation since the user would have the U-lock on hand, so there’d be fewer situations where it would be far less awkward to find a secure place for the bike while running in and doing an errand. That ability also improves the utility of my proposed system.

As for distance limits, in my case you have the option for monitoring you don’t in the case of the brains in the docking station approach. So, you could try and do something there. Not sure what that would look like though, I haven’t resolved my own ambivalence over perceived lower risk of bicycle loss by keeping them closer vs. making the system more annoying at the edges.

As for time limits on reservations which are going to be necessary and primary regardless, that’s a separate issue than the bike doc vs. my solution choice. I’ll share my thoughts only because I believe it’s an interesting question.

I really liked the idea of making this an add in to the monthly PAT pass (that would presumably get ever so slightly more expensive). In that case you need limits (maybe an hour combined total per day) so as not to greatly reduce availability of bikes without bringing in sufficient offsetting revenue.

Before that was mentioned, I envisioned something dirt simple, which could be used as an alternate option for those who don’t buy the pass… you don’t want 25 cent, 50 cent credit card transactions anyway. So people should buy their access credit in chunks, say 10$ for the sake of argument. Then that credit drops as they ride, again, for the sake of argument, at a rate of a dollar per hour. So they could borrow the bike for 10 hours, theoretically, before they’re in violation. If they had burned through more of their credits, the amount would be less. But on average you’d have much less accidental riding past these limits given that on an average, long rides are already bought and paid for.


jonawebb

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Mar 13 2013 at 10:54am #

@byogman, to make something like this happen you have to go through a series of steps. You have to develop and deploy the idea on a small scale, which would require significant investment, the creation of a company to do the development, partnering with other companies to do the parts you don’t want to focus on, etc. You have to work out all the kinks with the technology and develop expertise in lost or stolen bike retrieval, balancing, maintenance, etc. Then you have to sell the idea to a receptive small city, which will probably not pay enough to justify all the work you’ll have to set up the system, so you’ll need ever more investment. Then, after doing all that, you would be ready to approach a city like Pittsburgh — but you’ll be competing with existing bike share companies that have already gone through the steps above, have economies of scale, and credibility in the marketplace. All you will have is, maybe, a more elegant tracking and locking technology — which, if you’re successful, the other bike share companies will have had time to copy or compensate for.
You see the problem? It’s not that it’s impossible, it’s just that you can’t short-circuit the process and jump directly to deploying a system in a city like Pittsburgh unless you have all these other things in place.
Edit: an alternative is to go to the existing bike share companies and try to sell them on the idea of adding say GPS tracking to their bikes. Maybe they would be receptive to the idea. Then maybe they could roll out a new product which would use a simpler bike share station because the GPS tracking would make it possible. Etc.


WillB

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Mar 13 2013 at 11:52am #

Many bike share programs, like the one in Denver, already have GPS tracking on each bike. That’s one of the cool things about the program, you get a lot of great data on where and how people ride.


byogman

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Mar 13 2013 at 1:01pm #

WillB, good to know. I just assumed it wasn’t a part of this program since I heard nothing. So we’ll move that to the don’t know column in this particular comparison and move over to “same” if it does turn out that way.

The primary benefit of my suggestion is cost/scalability so it doesn’t change the analysis all that much. It’s basically a cost vs. polish tradeoff and the reason for me posting a but… but… we could just do X was because the cost side of the curve seemed really steep.

jonawebb, I’m less starry eyed than you may imagine. This started as me talking in the hopes that someone better prepared might be able to advance the idea.

But if nobody latches onto it, I will keep dipping into this and if things do look encouraging and if I can (which is a serious if) I will start devoting serious time quickly. I’ve had too much of this “steal this idea” stuff over the years not to want to make a go of it at some point, just question mark on whether now is the time.

Given the evaluation criteria I know it’s pretty doubtful that the city of Pittsburgh would have any inkling to go my way on a large scale until it’s proven out to a degree at smaller scale, and I assume the clock is ticking rather fast. So that does point to “no”, at least for this market, and would be ashame to loose the battle on home turf, but I’m not giving up until I get more info, which I’ve just pinged scott for. We’ll see.


reddan

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Mar 13 2013 at 1:17pm #

byogman wrote:The primary benefit of my suggestion is cost/scalability

Hmm…are you making that claim based on anything other than the $8K/bike figure? I don’t see how a meaningful comparison could be made, without a more detailed breakdown of costs and benefits for the existing plan.

For example, if the existing plan is $3.9 million for administration, maintenance, education, bike redistribution engineers, hub polishers, and enforcement drone operation; and the actual cost for 500 bikes and their docks is $100K all told, that puts a very different spin on where one can reduce costs effectively.

Again, I’m not saying your plan is a bad idea; I’m saying that it’s a bit premature to try to fix the existing plan based on nothing but a press release. And I’m also saying that there may be no need whatsoever for concern over costs and scalability; the existing plan may be perfectly adequate in both cases. Hard to say right now…

Although, come to think of it; the best way to make bikes available to everyone might be to buy 50,000 $80 bikes and just kinda scatter ‘em over the region. ;-)


byogman

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Mar 13 2013 at 1:55pm #

“Although, come to think of it; the best way to make bikes available to everyone might be to buy 50,000 $80 bikes and just kinda scatter ‘em over the region. ;-)”

I’ve had roughly that thought, too… though I thought in terms of a slightly more controlled and less arbitrary means of deciding who gets them… otherwise I think you quickly find at least a few folks who’ve hoarded hundreds of them to try and resell them. But if done semi-reasonably, I’d actually prefer that approach to the current proposal.

The reason I decided to take the next step and suggest an amended bikeshare was because I thought it would be possible to get the same bikes in more people’s hands, at a premium per bike for sure, but not one that felt crazy, with the system I’m describing and make a durable and complementary community asset with strong network effects with the public transit system, not just something to benefit lucky individuals.

Of course, again that’s up front, I don’t know their breakdown and wouldn’t know mine until I actually try and go do this. I’m largely going by gut and the seat of my pants here. I think anyone has to to contemplate something new.

The biggest question mark to my mind as to comparability is transporting the bikes to guarantee availability. Are they selling the specialized vehicles for this as part of the 4 million, leasing them, or just offering to operate the service with their own vehicles at whatever rate?

And ongoing costs are even more of a black box and in the long haul probably the more important question anyway (though they sure challenged that with their upfront costs!). I have some more specialized ideas on this, not part of what I’ve proposed so far, and which would take more time to get going. But that’s neither here nor there at the moment since they wouldn’t be available in time. And I’ve been accused of being a know it all unrealistic late to the game upstart quite enough already :)


reddan

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Mar 13 2013 at 3:07pm #

byogman wrote:And I’ve been accused of being a know it all unrealistic late to the game upstart quite enough already :)

You forgot ugly, lazy, and disrespectful.

No, seriously, I think it’s a cool project…it may not necessarily apply here, but, if simple and inexpensive enough, could well apply elsewhere…some small town with a budget in the thousands, not the millions, f’rinstance.

Personally, I forget to charge my cellphone frequently enough that requiring it to be functional in order to take a bike would be a non-starter for me, but I am not necessarily the target demographic here. :-)


byogman

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Mar 13 2013 at 3:26pm #

“You forgot ugly, lazy, and disrespectful.”

Nice reference.

“some small town with a budget in the thousands, not the millions, f’rinstance.”

I kind of think of us here as small towners who happen to kinda be in a city held together by some scrap and grit. Maybe that’s a little silly yinzer-ish bias. But being thrifty is never too bad.

“but I am not necessarily the target demographic here. :-)”

Cell phone charge might be the least of the bad fit here. Multiple hundred km rides aren’t on the rideshare menu and recumbents wouldn’t be either (too different to capture the rider base, and too much of a pain to do the parking for anyway).


reddan

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Mar 13 2013 at 3:30pm #

byogman wrote:Cell phone charge might be the least of the bad fit here. Multiple hundred km rides aren’t on the rideshare menu and recumbents wouldn’t be either (too different to capture the rider base, and too much of a pain to do the parking for anyway).

But you have far less to worry about as regards theft…who’d want to be seen on or near one of those contraptions anyway?

I do think it’d be cool to grab a rideshare bike here, and leave it (legitimately!) in DC or Philly. [edited to add:] Come to think of it, that’s a use case far better suited to your proposed system…hmm…


Marko82

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Mar 13 2013 at 4:49pm #

Reddan, take one on CTC? You’re going that way anyhow..


dbacklover

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Mar 13 2013 at 7:53pm #

I for one think this is a great idea. there have been plenty of times when I got up in the morning and it was raining or I got up late and didnt feel like racking my bike into town so I could go riding after work. There have been plenty of times when I got into town and instead of going home I thought man a burger and beer at OTB would be great but didnt have my bike and didnt want to add 2 more bus rides to my night. in both of these senerios the bike share would be perfect.

Granted i would be a little carefule about riding one of these bikes because of my size I have to think there are others out there who feel the same way.

I have said many times that most effective way to get people to do anything is to make it as friction free as possible. Make it simple and easy to ride a bike around town (by simple and easy I mean not needing to strap a bike to a car, not needing to throw a bike onto the bus, and not needing to get up an hour early to ride in) and more people will be willing to take a bike ride.

How many people here on the board will ever use the bike share for any reason other than “try it out” or to “Support it so we dont lose it” Im thinking it is a small percentage. most people on the board are the more dedicated cyclists.

What I want to see are the everyday people using this to get from the southside to the strip, from downtown to oakland. from southside to a baseball game. and a hundred more places.

I want people who might never think of riding a bike to work or to the grocery store on these bikes because 90%+ of those people also drive cars and I have seen how riding a bike can make a person think more when they drive (not all people, some are just clueless, some are just jerks and you cant really do much about them)

I think this is a blog post in the making.

watch for it at fatguyorangebike.com


byogman

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Mar 13 2013 at 10:30pm #

I agree with the friction free sentiment, but I believe availability of stations and parking trumps on time and that’s what matters. I’m going to consider roll-out only, work on a my unvalidated costing assumptions, consider an impossibly simple distribution of bikes, do some bad math, consider only one riding use case, continue with some bad math and more bad assumptions, and come up with some back of the envelope figures that will not resemble reality. But I hope in the end, in spite of all the shortcomings, to illustrate a point reasonably well.

Let’s assume we’re trying to do a bikeshare in Pittsburgh. Just the incorporated area of Pittsburgh is 58.3 square miles, let’s forget about anything outside (I’d prefer not to and the bigger the area the more this matters, but whatever). If you have 50 stations you get one station per 1.166 square miles. If you conversely had 500, you’d have one per .1166 square miles. You’re trying to get from point a to point B. I’m too tired to do the math on hexagonal style packing right now which would be a far better, but let’s just say the stations sit at the centers of these squares and heck, just ignore the diagonals thereby underestimating distances in both scenarios somewhat (by an equivalent ratio). sqrt 1.166 = 1.0798, sqrt .1166 = .3415. So those are the edges of your squares. Worst case distance to a station is half that (remember, ignoring diagonals), average is half again but multiply by 2 since both endpoints are arbitrary. So, .5399 total miles of walking vs. .1708 miles. Now, considering stoplights, how fast does someone walk from place to place by foot? Let’s consider the case of 3 mph, which I think again, is a bad estimate that makes the time gap look smaller than it is, that’s more an average travelling speed not considering lights than with. But whatever.

So, 10.798 minutes of total walking vs. 3.416 minutes. Now presumably you’d walk toward a station in the direction of your destination most of the time so that should cut this down, right? Not in the mood for anything realistic involving real math. Let’s just pretend that fact does nothing to increase the average walk distance even though we know it does. In fact, let’s pretend that the walk toward the station is PERFECTLY aligned with the direction we’re going, and lets assume that the person that averages 3mph by foot averages 9 by bike. So then the advantage drops from a hair under 7 and a half minutes to hair under 5 minutes.

Now you’re going to object that I haven’t accounted for the time difference at the kiosks. That’s true, I haven’t. So I’ll ask, how long does it take to tap through a couple screens (once you’ve got credit card info saved, that’s all the work it should be), undo a combo lock, click the U-lock into place on the bike, take it off at the destination, separate the sides, push the bike into a rack, put the sides back together, and mess the combo numbers a little? Perhaps 2 minutes vs. maybe 30 seconds on both ends of the pretty docking station solution? It’s a guess. But not even close to 5, sorry. And since most rides will be short (1-2 miles I’m guessing will be most common), those roughly 3 1/2 minutes (actually somewhat more given the bad assumptions I made along the way to make the math simpler) very easily can be a significant fraction of the total trip time. I think riders would prefer a system that saves them that time. I know I would.

P.S., if there’s someone seeing this who wants to do the real math here, am curious what the actual average (well, actual given maximally simple assumptions on station distribution) transit time gap would be.


byogman

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Mar 13 2013 at 10:46pm #

And P.P.S, I know that station distribution will be clustered in either scenario, but especially in the 50 station scenario. So the already bikey areas would see less benefit than described from there being 500 stations, but the not yet bikey areas would see a much larger benefit than described from there being 500 stations.

Whether that’s enough to make it cross a threshhold and catch in these new areas, whether there’s really any point to the majority of 500 stations is certainly debatable. I think there is, but we need to go much further than we have so far striping bike lanes to make it happen.


edmonds59

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Mar 14 2013 at 8:34am #

byogman, you’ve already spent X number of hours roughing out this thing at a rate of $0/hr. Assume a few hundred more hours working out the details of the system, testing, adjusting, working at the same rate. There will be meetings for permits and approvals for the placement of your stations, even if they are ultimately simple. You’ll need to incorporate and you’ll need liability insurance so the first idiot who rides one of your bikes under a truck doesn’t come after everything you and your family owns. You will need to hire staff to fabricate, install, and maintain your system. Assuming you don’t have a team of Oompa Loompas who will also work at a rate of $0/hr, there’s that. And all that is before you get to acquiring the bikes and stations themselves.
I could probably build a working bike myself. It would not work nearly as well as one I can buy off the shelf. And once everything was taken into account, it would cost a hell of a lot more.
Not saying it’s not an interesting thought exercise.


byogman

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Mar 14 2013 at 8:43am #

Won’t address most of the points there not because they’re not valid, but as pointed out I am at 0$ an hour and want to concentrate on stuff that builds value if I’m doing that. I do count trying to convince people of the goodness of the idea in that category.

So, to the point about fabrication and installation of the stations, that’s far easier if they’re dumb, and you could even outsource that to the city totally, theoretically. Becomes an apples and oranges comparison to a degree, but you can fairly say to the city, hey, if this doesn’t work, you didn’t loose anything on this part of the cost, the bike parking you’ve paid for for this rideshare is just now a resource for your fast growing population of regular bicyclists.


edmonds59

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Mar 14 2013 at 10:23am #

I would be extremely cautious of dismissing permits, approvals, incorporation, and liability insurance as “invalid”, but, OK.


byogman

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Mar 14 2013 at 10:52am #

I didn’t.

“Won’t address most of the points there not because they’re not valid, ” was confusing I guess because of the double negative.


Tabby

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Mar 15 2013 at 12:46pm #

this conversation is interesting to me because I really like the whole setup of the bikeshares being set up in cities like DC. As I was reading, I think that I fall on the side of feeling like the ease of use and visibility of the system is more important than just the number of bikes. People get flummoxed so easily. You really can’t overestimate it.

For example, earlier this week my husband went to our bank branch which has recently been acquired by another bank. A customer went inside complaining that he couldn’t figure out the ATM. The new bank had changed the question prompts and he was getting tripped up on selecting the language and what to do with his card. The new ATM requires inserting and removing the card instead of just inserting it. The guy got so confused that the security guard had to come out and assist him with it, which is a whole other issue.

Anyway, all I’m saying is that any additional barrier that you might think is not a big deal, can be a much bigger barrier in real life.

@byogman, you may be aware that last summer Verona began a bike share in its community. There are 10 bikes and just one site, so they are primarily going to be used for recreation, however they are lent out with helmets and locks and can be kept for up to 3 days so people can take them pretty much anywhere they want. This system was set up with $4000 that went to the bikes, helmets and U locks. Some flyers and promotion was extra. All the planning was done by myself and some community volunteers. The borough is responsible for ownership of the bikes and there is a waiver that people have to sign. If you’re interested in tinkering with a small system and lending a hand toward making it better, let me know.


byogman

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Mar 15 2013 at 1:07pm #

Thanks for offering your perspective. I didn’t know Verona had a bikeshare, that’s terrific! I definitely need to check it out. Hope you don’t mind if I bug you with a lot of questions, too. The potential for a sandbox to demonstrate an approach in is pretty huge.


Tabby

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Mar 15 2013 at 1:14pm #

byogman wrote:perspective. I didn’t know Verona had a bikeshare, that’s terrific! I definitely need to check it out. Hope you don’t mind if I bug you with a lot of questions, too. The potential for a sandbox to demonstrate an approach in is pretty huge.

It’s a tiny program with limited involvement from a few people and a little seed money. More interest and ideas would be great. Bah, despite some of our efforts, I’m finding that by and large no one knows it exists. PM me for more.


byogman

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Mar 15 2013 at 1:39pm #

Done.

Don’t be dismissive because you of a small budget and scale. Vision counts. And BTW, I couldn’t help but notice how favorable a ratio of budget to scale you’ve got going! I certainly think that counts for something, too.

Am reaching out checking with some vendors on some things that would be necessary for a proof of concept. First couple of iterations (thinking every month or so try a change and see how it works) would be rough and wouldn’t put quite all the piece parts together I’m thinking of. Also would most likely would require slight manual hacking of the existing bikes. But that’s where starting with only 10 bikes really helps.


edmonds59

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Mar 16 2013 at 8:33am #

See one-card concept in action: http://transitized.com/2013/03/15/unified-fare-payment-and-chicago-bike-share/

Also, a nationwide system, thus solving the problem of packing bikes on buses and what not: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/03/15/local-b-cycle-memberships-will-be-good-in-15-cities/


scott

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Mar 16 2013 at 1:34pm #

Just doing some digging on some of the stuff talked about on here:

http://thecityfix.com/blog/for-bikesharing-forget-stations-all-you-need-is-a-phone/

Edit: http://webikedoyou.com/

http://socialbicycles.com/

http://www.viacycle.com/


byogman

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Mar 18 2013 at 1:00pm #

These are great links. I’m somewhat relieved that these are already out there already, perhaps stupid of me to have assumed not after what, maybe two google searches at that point? I have more than enough business ideas, it was a question of whether this was going to be the one. I was leaning toward no given the timing and criteria for the Pittsburgh bid but felt obligated to explore.

Now I know, this is out there, a proof of concept has happened and there’s already information to go on in terms what works well, what doesn’t, and what the costing looks like. I’ll keep digging and share info back if I get something meaningful, but just because it’s interesting to me, and I think somewhere among these options very possibly is something that will work well for our fair city.


Benzo

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Mar 19 2013 at 1:16pm #

I wasn’t sure who the operator is likely going to be. However, I think it’s cool that b-cycle is allowing memberships to be used in other cities with the same pass.

http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/b-cycle-bike-sharing-membership-now-works-15-us-cities.html


Elmo

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Mar 20 2013 at 7:47am #

http://triblive.com/opinion/ericheyl/3689647-74/bike-bikes-program#axzz2O5EyGF1K

No comment from me. Just know that this is running in a mainstream publication in this city.


byogman

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Mar 20 2013 at 8:05am #

The idea that a bikeshare that’s a system can be built on a cost that mirrors the low end price on new bikes is intentionally ignorant. And just leaving the bikes out in the wild with no accountability is going to result in hoarding and reselling and not really do anything for biking in this town.

But cost per bike is a metric that attracts attention, and rightly so. So that’s why I raised the red flag here and tried to get the conversation going. I sent off preliminary pings to the folks Scott found a couple nights ago. So far first response from weBike but that’s all, would like to gather things a bit better and have at least two alternates to compare before sharing my impressions and thought process.


Benzo

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Mar 20 2013 at 9:19am #

Yeah, let’s just hack together a system with cheap wal-mart bikes.

Thing is, b-cycle and alta bike share have both created system that prove to be useful in multiple cities. B-cycle has implemented their system in 15 US Cities.

Alta is responsible for bike share in DC, which is lauded as being one of the best anywhere as well as one for boston. They are working on a system for portland, and even have operations in europe and australia.

We know a system by either of these companies is likely to work. There are a few other vendors as well with proven technology. It seems like it makes sense to go with a company who has a track record of making a working system that doesn’t leave a bunch of non-functional bikes laying around.

The cost of the bikes is due to special manufacturing, these are not just stock frames / wheels / tires. They are meant to fit most riders, prevent flats, resist damage, interface with the special docking station/pay station, be very low maintenance, and be stored out in bad weather.

They are not meant to be locked up on regular bike racks, they are meant to be taken between stations and secured there. The fare schedule reflects this design, encouraging people to hold on to bikes only as long as they need them. This is probably not ideal for the person who want to go ride down the GAP trail on a Sunday and stop for a bite to eat in the waterfront, this is ideal for someone who wants to get from CCAC on the north side to their apartment on the southside flats without doing a bus transfer (or taking the slowly meandering 54c)

It’s likely that a good bit of the cost of the system is going to be covered by ‘sponsers’ who will advertise on bikes and on the bike stations. The system will start small, and if it is successful and they get some good metrics about when / where people actually use it most, then plans can be made to grow the system where it makes sense. It will likely use some public funds, but so do the stadiums that I don’t use and the parks that I do use.

The benefit is that it creates a lot of short distance connectivity as a supplement to the existing transit system that can move people between neighborhoods and drive people to business districts where they will likely spend money at local businesses.


jonawebb

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Mar 28 2013 at 2:15pm #

There’s a meeting coming up April 2, Carnegie Mellon University’s McKenna/Peter/Wright room on the 2nd floor of the University Center from 6pm to 8pm.

https://www.facebook.com/events/142426215932497/

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