bike share is coming
I agree with the logic to have to re-dock the bikes. My gripe is that the 30-minute window is prohibitively annoying and causes a lot of down time to find a station, dock, and then go through the procedure to re-rent the bike. It should also be noted that 30 minutes is the maximum time to have the bike un-docked, so to stay within that window, the actual usable commuting time is closer to 20 minutes or less (unless you idealize a scenario in which there is a dock located on your route every 29 minutes). A simple change to a 1-hour window would be considerably more fair and user friendly without creating a bike shortage scenario.
Also, BTW, the charge should be high enough. One of the problems with the NYC system is that they set the annual charge too low, so there wasn’t enough money to maintain the system, and too much demand. It’s like at Disneyworld where once you’re in the park, everything is free. You end up paying for rides anyway, using time, because you have to stand in long lines. This is also known as the tragedy of the commons, or the paradox of common goods. Economists know that the solution is to raise the price until you get refusal, and then to use the extra money to increase supply (or provide a public subsidy; but NYC ruled that out when the system was created). But the problem is that once a system is established, people really don’t want to pay more — even in NYC, where $100 for an annual pass is pretty much the cheapest way to get around the city. So the system ends up underfunded and poorly maintained. It would have been better to set a higher price initially, then lower it if there wasn’t enough demand.
A couple points: :)
1. 6.8 miles (per google) is definitely under 40 minutes. NYC is pretty much flat (I did bike a little bit in Manhattan (North), Harlem, Bronx, and a little bit Queens (out of curiosity) in 1992 or 1993 on a single speed. Google is just very generous. Technology Drive to Tazza D’Oro it shows as 5.8 m and 38 minutes. I usually get there in 30-31 if I do not rush, and in 26-27 if in rush. But this is me.
2. It’s a mode of transportation and it’s not a “tourist taxi”. And I see it exactly like this. To me there is the same difference as between a regular bus and double decker running around Pittsburgh. The earlier one does not go where I want and it does not stop when I want.
3. Price is step after 30 minutes because goal is discourage long trips. You keep your bikes on a short leash.
4. I don’t understand how you reduce 30 minutes to 20. I would agree if it;s reduced to 27 since time starts after you un-dock bicycle. So basically you undock it and start pedal. Screen work and docking would take 2-3 minutes. From what I see in statistics full docking station is pretty rare event.
PS I bought a cheap folding bike in mid summer that I use for my bike commuting. Jail trail from 1st station to the parking lot and a little bit bask to 1000 Technology Drive is 3.7 miles. If I am in my regular cloth then it’s about 12 mph or 17-18 minutes. If I am in rush then it’s shorter (2.3 miles) and 14-15 mph and 9-10 minutes. And if I fill relaxed and no rush at all then my way from work to T look like this.
The DC version has the same 30 minute limit, and I agree that it’s a little too short, especially for new users. 40 minutes would serve the same purpose but make it a little less stressful to get the bikes docked in time. The thing is that if you don’t know the streets really well or have the dock locations stored in memory some of that time gets burned trying to find the stations or going the wrong way. Or people might get held up for a few minutes for whatever reason. Even if the purpose is public transit, many users will be visitors or just not ready to race along a particular direct route without stopping (those people are likely to have their own bikes). Public transit should be easy to use.
I’m also not sure why our bike share will be closed in the winter. The bikes sound similar to the DC ones, and they’re pretty well suited to winter riding with wide tires and protection for the drivetrain. Winter is also the time when it would be most useful, in my opinion. If the weather is crappy or questionable it would be great to be able to borrow a bike for certain segments of the day’s travel and then walk or bus the others. No need to commit to your own bike for the day and suffer through an afternoon snow storm. I’m sure this would get people riding in the winter who otherwise would be intimidated by the weather.
If you’re a local and travel regular routes, you’ve probably figured out where the stands are. At at a relatively leisurely 8mph speed (what I seem to average in Pgh, accounting for stops etc) you’ll go 4 miles, which is a pretty good range all things considered (around here that’s Downtown / Oakland). Anyway, don’t those time limits come with some kind of forgiveness interval, say ~5-10 mins, to accommodate circumstances?
As well, inter-trip timeouts are usually pretty short, at least in New York if I remember correctly (and surely would be linked to how many bikes happen to be idle at a station). Or you can be like this one guy I saw in Paris, standing around and sticking his card in every minute or so to test the system. (He got going pretty soon.)
In Montreal the racks seem mostly to be on the street, occupying parking spaces (yay). They get removed for the winter. Having grown up there, I know why: there’s lots of snow. And things don’t really slow down (not stop) until it’s at least 10in new snow; bikes don’t fit the scheme, otherwise clearing the streets would get too complicated. DC and Pittsburgh don’t get anywhere that much snow. In any case I believe that share-bike construction has more to do with maintenance and general durability than with all-weatherness.
We are getting German NextBikes with lower gearing according to article
“Bart Yavorosky, executive director of Pittsburgh Bike Share Partnership, said foundations ideally would support the project indefinitely, letting Pittsburgh become the first American city that treats its bike-share system as a public service, rather than a money-making venture.”
Well, I hope it works. I prefer a model based on market pricing. Otherwise expansion is limited to what the foundations are willing to pay for. And if they lose interest, maintenance will suffer. Remember the Dasani blue bikes? http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2005/07/09/Group-makes-free-bikes-available-on-South-Side-and-North-Shore/stories/200507090190
Public service and market pricing are not incompatible.
Public Service implies an effort to make the resource broadly available. Market Pricing implies varying price to achieve these goals. The bike-share pricing in Paris varies by destination, to ensure that certain locations have bikes available. There’s other things you can do.
For Pittsburgh I can see prices (and maybe time allowances) varying by, say, time of week. For example, Sundays downtown bikes are way cheaper than during the week. Or, huff’n puffing a bike from Downtown to Oakland yields some sort of bonus.
Speaking as a geezer, I would love to have a job repositioning bikes. Give me a cargo bike that I could put 3 rentabikes on, maybe a trailer that carries another 4 or 5, and let me ride circuits on the bakfiets moving bikes from full stations to empty stations.
Say, 0900 to 11 in the mornings, and 6-8pm after the evening commute. What a great gig.
Repositioning BurghBikes with trucks just seems so counter-mission.
I think I used the wrong term. I meant that the price should be set high enough so that bike share can sustain itself and grow without a subsidy. Setting it too low just shifts the costs from money to inconvenience: you can’t get a bike because they’re all in use, or broken, and the system can’t be expanded or fixed because the foundations don’t want to kick in more money. Bicycling is efficient enough economically that bike share can be made available to lots of people while still making enough money to sustain itself and grow.
It sounds like Pittsburgh’s bike share system won’t be doing this. What a shame.
I think you do want truck-based maintenance.
The trucks I’ve seen do schlep bikes around. But they also have setups to do light maintenance, and they cart broken bikes back to the shop. I can see it being more cost efficient.
Still, getting paid for riding around town sounds like fun.
you missed the key line: “Bikes should be accessible to everyone.”
That means people who don’t have the kind of cash you do.
It’s public transportation. Why shouldn’t it have a subsidy?
Because it won’t work that way. What will happen is, people who have more time or patience will occupy the system. If the cost is too low they just won’t return their bikes. It won’t work out for poor people or anyone else. Just the people who are willing to put up with an overused and undermaintained system will get access.
For some things, like public transit, the costs are just too high and the benefits too spread out over the population for it to work any other way. You have to tax and subsidize, or otherwise the system is just unsustainable. But it doesn’t have to work that way for bicycles. The costs are low enough that they can be made available without relying on a subsidy.
We can subsidize bike share to make it affordable without making it so people don’t return the bikes. My concern is that there needs to be a point (probably no more than an hour, maybe less) after which it gets really expensive to keep the bike out. That’s precisely because bike share is public transportation, not a subsidized recreational service. People who want bikes for long rides can rent them elsewhere (or buy them, if they live here); the bikeshare bikes should be used for shorter point to point trips so that there are always lots of bikes available. But that doesn’t mean that the cost of the first 30-60 to sixty minutes can’t be kept affordable. You could also provide subsidized memberships to people with low incomes as I believe they do in Boston.
Boy it can’t come soon enough. My wife works downtown with primarily middle aged suburban retro-yinzers, so she keeps me up on all the retro-buzz. Apparently many of the early and obvious snipes about the bike lanes have evaporated off, the last one she told me about was “what’s the point, you can’t even rent a bike downtown”. …!
So I proceeded to tell her the story of the upcoming bike share with full orchestration and five-part harmony and stuff like that, and other phenomenon. You can get anything you want.
Well, if you read the story, they’re talking about providing bike share as a public service, with ongoing foundation subsidy. Which means they will be limited to whatever the foundations can pay.
Subsidizing the poor directly is one way to provide bike share while maintaining a price structure that leads to more efficient use. You could even build the subsidies into the system so that they are paid out of the price other people pay. (You could also just give the poor money, and let them decide how to spend it themselves, but I guess we don’t trust them to make good decisions.)
Just subsidizing to lower the cost to everyone just shifts the cost from money to something else, like maintenance or difficulty accessing the system.
NYC learned this the hard way, by rolling out a system with a too-low annual membership price. The bikes were over-subscribed, and there wasn’t enough money to maintain them and the stations. Bikes were poorly maintained, the stations were broken or unbalanced. So, eventually, they got more money, expanded the system, and raised the price. I would’ve expected Pittsburgh would learn from that experience, but I guess we’re going the other way.
Remember, car driving is 2/3rds subsidized.
And buses are heavily subsidized as well.
Why are bikes suddenly expected to cover 100% of their cost?
I think returning to the notion that this is public transport is really key. It’s come up before in this thread, but if it works with PAT passes and connect cards and doesn’t blow out the cost structures too bad (which it shouldn’t I’d think…) then that’s a large fraction of the people who might be interested in using the system already able to use the system.
It also encourages this to be thought of as a mutually reinforcing thing, bikes and transit, which could encourage joint stop / station joint planning, and more express oriented routes around flatter areas with better infrastructure and more approachable bike-ability. So much goodness could come of a smoothly operating joint system.
@Ahlir, if you look at the city infrastructure for cars and public transit, I think you’ll see why. Things that are subsidized by public funds tend to get short-changed and poorly maintained.
Ideally we would use the foundation subsidy to set up a system that could sustain itself and grow, while providing well-maintained bikes and docking stations. Instead we’re going to use it to keep the price low, for as long as the foundations are willing to pay.
Again, if the bike share system was really expensive (like public transit is), the only choice would be taxes and a subsidy. But it’s not. Other cities have shown a sustainable model. We should be following that model and trying to improve on it, not burning up foundation money.
I have a policy question that I haven’t heard expressed yet. Since this system is designed to help connect the last (first) mile, should these bikes be allowed on bus racks? It’s a tricky question. I live in a neighborhood south of the city which will have no bike stations, so maybe racking ‘n rolling on a bus would fit the transportation model. But why would you need to rack n roll from Town to Oakland? or Town to South Side? Shouldn’t you just ride the bus (without bike) then take a bike from a station on the other end?
I bring this up because it would be real frustrating to want to rack n roll your own personal bike, only to have to wait for another bus because the bus rack is full of bike-share bikes.
My recollection of the couple bikes we had here to test was that they are heavy. Not so heavy as not to be used on a bus rack, but heavy enough to make it difficult. I am undecided on whether that (if true) is a good thing or a bad thing.
They are heavy, and I also wonder if they’d even fit.
I’ve seen a couple posts about people in Chicago, DC, and NYC locking them up to things, but other than the occasional long-distance tourist (like the, IIRC, DC bike that turned up in Chicago promoting the new Divvy, or the Divvy bike that went to Seattle), I haven’t heard of too many people trying to take them on other transportation… maybe on the Metro, once.
(and, to directly answer your question, Marko, yes, one would hope someone would dock near a bus stop, ride the bus to Oakland or SS, and pick up another bike there, rather than take a share bike on the bus.)
NYC learned this the hard way, by rolling out a system with a too-low annual membership price.
I’m not certain they were wrong to do it that way. It’s possible that if they had started with a higher and sustainable price, fewer people would have been motivated to try it, and sponsors and funders would have decided it wasn’t worth bothering with a niche service.
It might be better to start with an initial unsustainable price just to get a much larger base of potential users. That helps with all kinds of things like convincing the city to allocate space for racks in the most desirable locations, getting funders to see the potential of the service, and so forth.
Sure, there were problems later on with the way NYC did it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the best option.
OK, let’s try it for a year and see if the pricing model works.
NYC screwed up the planning (but ended up showing that people are more than willing to use bikes: a rather valuable data point). Presumably the Pgh people will do the numbers better. Or not. And if not let’s hope they somewhat underprice so as to get lots of people riding and maybe who’ll gel into a constituency. It will die if the price is too high.
I expect that some of us will buy a card even if we don’t expect to use the system all that often. Sort of like a museum “membership” (actually a private subsidy).
I hope it works, too. I’ll get a membership in case I ever feel like not taking my bike somewhere. Or in case I’m somewhere without my bike and feel like riding home.
A little more info on the new bike share program:
Only a few extra bits of information. They’ll have a pay as you go model, with $2 one way rides and $10 for 10 hours. No mention of monthly or yearly memberships, which I hope it has.
The sentence with those prices says “for example”. It’s not clear to me if those are actual prices, or just made-up ones to help explain what “pay as you go” means.
I really hope you won’t be able to rent one of these for ten straight hours for ten dollars. It goes against everything I’ve read or heard about how bike share is supposed to function.
To be fair, the article is very superficial and not particularly well written. It could be that the $10 for 10 is similar to the CitiBike daily fare, in which you pay for “unlimited” use during a certain period of time, provided that the bike is returned 30 mins after you rent it without incurring additional fees.
Enough speculation on my part. I’ll wait until the bike share website is updated to include the actual fare structure.
In an earlier post in this thread
I said, I’d love to have a job riding around a cargo-bike balancing the bike presence.
Today I learned that Citi-Bike in NYC is doing exactly that. bwa-ha-ha-ha During rush hour, using trucks becomes inefficient.
Interesting NYC photo.
1. Bike trailer in middle of a ped crossing (peds have the light).
2. Trailer (and some guy in the back) salmoning up a 1-way street.
But point granted; you can do redistribution by bike…
Unsure of posting this here or in “new from other places”, ended up here.
Other cities have found that the biggest barrier for bike share use is where stations are put. To diminish that issue here, 20 of the first 60 Philly Bike Share stations will be installed in low-income communities. (Those are defined as neighborhoods where 50% or more households live at or below 150% of the poverty line or areas with median household income at or below 80% of the citywide median income).
Article in Point Park paper
Phoenix Bike Share lets you park the rental bikes anywhere, for a fee:
It’s an interesting scheme, to say the least
haven’t seen any news regarding the launch date for the bike share program, but I was looking at their website and saw that they’ve added a few more bike station locations on their map. This is looking more and more promising
‘Nearly a year after its scheduled launch, Pittsburgh’s bike share program is expected to drop 500 new bikes on the street within the next two months. “Things are marching forward,” says David White, executive director of Pittsburgh Bike Share, the nonprofit that manages the program. “We hope to have users with the ability to take out a bike starting in May.”’
I’ve brought this up before, and sent a few emails into black holes, but why no station in station square area? Would be helpful for getting people to and from the south side. There are often events at highmark stadium and the hotel there. Also, as a T user this would be super useful.
Re: the lack of a Station Square bike share.
I believe it was for two major reasons, they were limited by funding, and it is surprisingly unfeasible.
On the feasibility, the ways to get from Station Square to anywhere else are very difficult. You either have to brave Carson Street to get to the South Side Flats, or you have to brave the Smithfield Street Bridge. That, for now, is why there is no station there, in my opinion.
With more funding and bike lanes, there is not doubt in my mind that there will be one there some day.
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