bike share press conference this monday @11am, bksq
I just found out about this, if anyone is interested. I’ll try to find out exactly where it is happening, since “bakery square” is pretty vague.
Join Bakery Square, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, project stakeholders and community members on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 11am, as they unveil details for a new citywide program that will significantly progress Pittsburgh’s efforts to be a bike-friendly “most livable city” for everyone.
Since introducing new bike and pedestrian initiatives in 2007, Mayor Ravenstahl has worked with organizations like BikePGH to make Pittsburgh a world-class, bike-friendly city. Currently, the city boasts 500 bike racks, 75 miles of riverfront trails and bike lanes, and two on-street bike corrals. Bike commuting in the city has increased by 270 percent over the last decade – making Pittsburgh the 16th highest bicycle commuting city in the country (American Community Survey, 2011). Additionally, Pittsburgh is recognized as a bronze-level, bike-friendly community and one of the top 30 most bike-friendly cities by Bicycling Magazine.
Light refreshments will be served after the press conference, courtesy of Panera Bread.
Answer: “Outside next to The Coffee Tree Roasters near the BikeShare station, weather permitting.”
Also you’ll be able to test-ride the bikes (which I haven’t done myself).
Top. This is at bakery square outside the coffee tree roasters. Hope you can join us!
Any comment on what happened? I can’t find anything in the paper.
+1 Salty, that was extremely responsible and restrained of you. Some of us might have said,
“BikeShare’Burgh announced that effective 11/11/13, their new CEO will be Luke Ravenstahl, and they’ll be placing BSBS’ (bikeshare’burghstations) at all new URA developments including the future Buncher and Alamono projects. The first BikeShare’Burgh initiative will be using BSBS’ to provide MMC (multimodalconnectivity) between parking assets and employment assets in the city’s vibrant south shore community.”
Photo opportunities at the kickoff event featured prominent Pittsburghers riding the new Euro-style bikes, including Sally Wiggins, Sophie Masloff, and Randy Gilson.”
Just think of the sport of sending people in to work on Monday prepared to discuss what ‘s new in Pittsburgh. I applaud your restraint.
Pretty cool! My coworker who rides the bus is excited by the prospect of riding from downtown to our office and back to connect to his route home.
@rsprake: I think your friend has hit on the biggest aspect of this. It’s not BikeShare by itself, it’s BikeShare as another part of integrated city life. It’s intermodal connections.
Last year, you wouldn’t take the bus because the trip from here to getting on the bus was just a bit too inconvenient. Next year, you can bikeshare to the BSBS (bikeshare bikestation) at the bus station, drop off the bike, get on the bus, and just keep moving.
Somebody who gets off the bus will take a bike and ride to a station/node near their destination. Etc. Etc.
Consider the implications for what’s currently ailing south side: no way to get from Parking to Job.
I am not feeding the trolls. Frank Cekus and Hayley Greenberg, to name two.
Why can’t we have 5000 and not 500 bikes for this price? Can’t be the bike itself, so presumably it’s these places to park them. But there’s no reason that need be a complicated proposition. Any old bike rack will do (well maybe you want to limit a bit so collection/redistribution costs on the bikes aren’t so high, but the racks themselves can be perfectly stupid and cheap)
You see, there’s already vibration triggered low power gps out there (as already exists in pretty cheap bike “lojack” products). Just make the bikes cheap enough, weld it in securely enough that it’s not worth it to a would be thief, design in some sort of external charging mechanism, and have the product report battery level (if it doesn’t already)). Then you just have to pick these up every now and then, but you had to do that anyway to redistribute them, so so what? And you’ve got all this wonderful data about biking habits in your city you didn’t have before.
As for the reservations, that’s even easier, let the app you use to find the bikes also be what you use to indicate your reservation, pay, get the combo for the U-lock (also with low power GPS) that comes with the bike, and return your bike for credit back against your reservation (so bike availability isn’t artificially constrained since people forget to “return” them).
I’m sure this has some holes I’m not thinking of because it’s late, but I’m sorry, not ones that couldn’t be plugged for a lot less than 8 grand per bike.
Let me do one last bit of me nitpicking this time on billing structure rather than cost per bike. I think it’s WAY too high on an ad hoc per use basis… we want to encourage these riders, no reason to charge them comparatively a lot. And it seems far too low on an annual basis to cover costs especially considering costs of transporting the bikes around to meet demand. Someone who really bikes all the time probably can get their own bike anyway.
Having made a point about costs and alternate approach I think is valid, will say that at the right price per bike, this is absolutely FANTASTIC. I want to see it happen, I just want us to do it smarter than it’s been done before.
What will the cost structure be anyway? I haven’t seen that in print anywhere, was it mentioned at the press release?
$8 k/bike does seem nuts, if that’s correct. In the ‘burgh I can buy 2 cars for that and just leave them parked where I am likely to need them.
But seriously, Pgh is a low-rent town, it is unlikely that they will be able to charge what it costs to run the system, so it will require constant public funding. In NY, DC, etc. the populace is accustomed to paying $12 for a ham & cheese sammich on white.
As people who bike, we should be able to skip the KRSGC (Kubler Ross Stages of Greeting Change). This is going to be a good thing. People in other cities make this successful. We’re not on the bleeding edge. This will work here, too.
Of course it’s going to cost some money. Here’s what that money pays for: dynamic, self-serve, unscheduled, flexible transit for short trips. What would it cost to deliver bus/taxi/zip service with the same coverage? Much much more.
This is going to make getting around in the city much easier, without dealing with parking. This is really about multi-modal transit, reducing the need for parking, reducing congestion.
In a funny way, it’s not a bike program for the bike choir, it’s a transit program for the general population. This really isn’t for us Bike-Pgh types although we will benefit tremendously from it.
How will we early benefit? More bike visibility in the culture, more bikes on the roads, official recognition of bikes as part of the solution, more attention to bikes in road design. And when more people’s neices and nephews are on bikes, more drivers are going to behave in a civilized manner.
The thing that they’ve done which is bold, brilliant, and completely right is: there is no helmet requirement (which is fantastic), and that’s what I thought would generate the most comments here.
The people who ride BikeShare aren’t going to be in high-viz jerseys, gloves, chamois shorts and clip in shoes; they’re going to be in blazers and windbreakers, long pants, and flats. (oooh, stilettos!)
In five years, there’s going to be eight people on bikes stopped at a red light (they’ll probably do that, stopping at red lights). They’ll see one of “us” in high-viz and nucalar blinkies blowing through stop signs and roll their eyes to each other, there goes one of those guys.
This is a great thing. Parking, congestion, transit and more bikes. They were wise to roll this out and give Luke a win-story and lock the program in before the next administration gets all busy.
No bad news in this.
The problem I see with this program is the typical Pittsburgh response should it not take off. If a year from now the system is removed due to a lack of interest, we won’t try it again for generations because – we tried that, it doesn’t work. Need proof? Look up Pittsburgh water taxis.
I think Vannevar got it exactly right when he said:
“….In a funny way, it’s not a bike program for the bike choir, it’s a transit program for the general population. This really isn’t for us Bike-Pgh types although we will benefit tremendously from it….”
If you have a bike, and you already use it, I suspect that it will continue to be far more convenient for you to rack and roll it, than to use bike share for trips that you do regularly (like to work).
That said, I am still looking forward to the opportunities it presents.
Maybe I’m being dense, but $8k a bike doesn’t seem that ridiculous. Especially considering the costs of planning, development, overhead, and amortization over a reasonable period. That, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the bike itself costs a considerable chunk of that number. They are heavy duty bikes that have sat outside in the elements for the better part of a year, don’t look any worse for wear, and are expected to put up with general neglect and abuse.
Sorry folks, not trying to pee in the punch bowl here. Source for rough and bicycle numbers estimate is the post gazette article.
I’m sure the program will be popular enough where available… in fact, I’m guessing popularity will be constrained by bike availability more than anything else based on the heavily subsidized per year cost. And I know this is feds and grant money for starters. So it’s a nice feather in the cap and a nice thing for the city in a vacuum.
But it’s not in a vacuum. You will want to expand this service any expansions are going to be locked into the same infrastructure and its cost structures. I think that cost structure is kind of crazy. But whether you agree or not, its inarguable that compared to something much cheaper, that cost structure would severely limit our ability to expand and extend this program across the region.
So does that cheaper option exist? I sure think so. Some of what I’m suggesting in terms of taking all cleverness out of the bike docks and putting it in apps with data fed by “lojack” like systems (probably need sms and simple website interface people without phones can use for reservations at libraries, too) has a moderately high initial price, one that could dent cost effectiveness if we think small. But if we don’t think small, if we keep to the 4 million dollar price tag, I don’t see why we can’t do thousands of bikes instead of a measly 500.
^what Marko said. Twice.
Also I was not trying to make the point that the $8k did not make sense for a well-functioning SYSTEM, I was just trying to say that the system will always require some kind of subsidy, publicly or private partnership, the public should not expect the fares to cover costs. It is a valuable system, and asset to the city, and deserving of subsidization.
I think local hotels and businesses should sponsor stations (if they aren’t already, I haven’t checked this out that closely). There should be a station by the Wyndham, by the Sheraton, by the convention center, by Point Park College, by the new PNC whatever that is, etc.
When they built the crossing light on Forbes between Craig and Morewood it cost far more that I would have expected — at least $100K. It costs a huge amount of money to put in infrastructure.
The Dasani blue bikes on the Southside are an example of what happens when there isn’t sufficient investment and city support — I still see the lockers when I bike past there.
One thing to also consider is that there is a significant number of staff (ie jobs) required for a bike share system, adding to the local economy.
Someone has to maintain the bikes, you need people to transport them around and “balance” the system, you need staff to run it and outreach, metrics, designers, printers, etc.
point is, the bikes won’t just go out into the world, and then we walk away from them.
Why there won’t be 5000 bikes… well, if we were able to raise $20M we could have 5000 bikes, but we can’t so we won’t. Also 5000 bikes would be overkill for a city our size. DC has about 1500 bikes and the system works wonderfully. They’ll probably grow it over time to 2000-2500 but I can’t imagine it being much larger and they have 200,000 more people living there and many more in their MSA.
For comparison, we hope to grow our system to approximately 1000 bikes over the next couple of years.
The thing with bike share compared to water taxis is that they will go just about anywhere from day one.
I’m sure I’m delusional and there’s dozens of reasons why it wouldn’t work, but wouldn’t it be cool if one’s PAT bus pass also provided bikeshare access?
One monthly pass, that would let me use the T, inclines, buses, and bikeshare? That would be quite spiffy.
Reddan, way too sensible to happen. Also, there’s probably some obscure PA law that prohibits it, see bureaucratic version of “stay outta my yard!”.
what dan said. that would be the killer app to make this system explode.
Agreed with Dan. I think that would be the killer app, and quite significantly change the perception of what is or is not overkill in terms of number of bikes.
To make that vision happen, I’m sorry, I think you’ve got to look at these start-up costs closely… you run out of steam way too quickly dropping 8 grand per bike. Deciding the first infrastructure is a critical juncture.
Please somebody address my suggestions, turn them to mincemeat even, and/or make your own. But let’s at least try to explore this some more.
@byogman, I think the answer to your suggestions is the model that Pittsburgh is following has been tried in other cities, and has worked. It will probably work here, too. And cities have tried other things that didn’t work — most similar to your suggestions was the idea of making bikes freely available and painting them a special color to identify them as sharable bikes. Here we also tried the idea of sharing bikes without much other investment in the Dasani blue bikes idea. Both these ideas failed. So, while your ideas might be fine, bike sharing appears to be a tricky thing to get right, so it makes sense that Pittsburgh is following a model that’s worked other places.
I get in broad brush strokes what you’re saying.
I’m questioning whether those brush strokes are too broad.
Specifically what about my idea wouldn’t work? I could be wrong, but I believe that the continuous GPS tracking and cell phones apps as principle interface are new, or at least a new combo, and I think that combo is killer.
Also, the notion of opportunity cost. Not so much that what’s proposed couldn’t work ok, but could something simple to envision and relatively simple to implement work better?
And, let’s try not to focus on the cost per bike. Yes, starting up ANYTHING is expensive. That’s why businesses get to depreciate large upfront costs for vehicles, office equipment etc. If you were calculating the cost of mailing a letter, you might remember to factor in the cost of the stamp, but would you factor in the cost of the paper, the envelope, the toner, the printer and the computer (the last two as a depreciated value)? Probably not. But you could. And then the cost of mailing a letter is significantly more than the cost of a stamp.
So, we will pay to create a new infrastructure. It will include racks (leases, agreements, installation costs). The racks will be “high tech” (equipment purchase, operations, maintenance costs). The system will require oversight (administration costs). Bikes will have to be maintained (need vehicle for transportation, maintenance location/facility, equipment purchase, and staffing costs). Occasionally, and perhaps maybe more often, bike will have to be shuttled around to make sure that bikes are not all in the same place at the same time (vehicle, gas, staffing costs, monitoring system to identify where balancing needs to take place, etc.) To make users comfortable, stations will have to be lit, identifiable, etc., (electricity costs, signange, operations, maintenance.)
Ok, now that we have spent all that money, we have a system. No bikes, but a system. NOW factor in the cost of the bikes per unit. The number will still be higher than you might be comfortable with, but it will be a lot less than $8K per bike. And the cost of adding new bikes down the road is the cost of the new bikes, plus incremental increases to the other cost categories. Those increments will range from negligible to modest.
Sorry, I know most of you know all this, deep down. It’s just sometimes easy to miss the fine print at the bottom that tells the real story. $8K per bike sounds unreasonable, and unnecessary. But, the City and the region believe in this strongly enough to commit some $4 million to the project. $4 million in bike improvements. Isn’t that something to celebrate?
I think this will be hugely popular with folks coming here for a few years to work or study, as well as certain corporate visitors and enterprising folks who want to save a bunch of parking $ getting to games and festivals downtown – yowza.
The idea of having the transit card work with the bikes is awesome: especially if PAt could do that as a form of sponsorship for the kick-off year.
Since I already have bikes and routines, I could imagine using this with my out of town guests, or meeting a bike-less friend at a station to go on a short ride together.
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. And people are just attracted to something spiffy and hi-tech and new. As Marko indicated earlier, there’s probably going to be one shot at this for a long time. It has to be the best possible (and most effortless) first impression.
Could be connected to this Connect card system that PAT has invested much in. One Less Car(d).
Maybe we need to start talking more about Complete Transit, not merely (hah! merely…wouldn’t that be nice…) Complete Streets.
For example, the smart bike corrals: we’re talking about a whole bunch of transit-proximate, weatherproof, high-tech, connected chunks-o-technology, that happen to act as bike docks. Wouldn’t that also be an awesome place to put kiosks for checking transit routes, schedules, seeing delay notices, etc.? Taxi company information, digital maps and schedules downloadable to smartphones via NFC or QR code, pedestrian routes, the possibilities are endless.
@Reddan, I’ve been fighting for safe bike parking for years. Let’s get to the point where we can feel confident leaving our bikes for more than a couple of hours before we go all high tech with it…..
But, great ideas! I wish I had been that visionary!
This feels wrong, it seems like it’s time to pop out the champagne corks and dream a little. But numbers do matter.
The ability of a system to deliver depends on the number of people it carries, which is a multiplier on the number of bikes. So I believe it’s absolutely critical to keep the cost per bike contained.
That’s not to say only up front costs matter, running costs that are going to be very significant here… I just started with up front costs because that’s what I know something about and because of the feeling of sticker shock.
Now I know these up front costs are never going to seem like a reasonable deal for the bike, racks aren’t free, and if you want more than street lighting or if you have unhappy property owners, the parking situation gets more expensive and complex.
But I think we can do a heck of a lot better and I was pretty specific about how. Nobody has shot down the ideas in specific ways so far. Please somebody address this directly.
It is absolutely vital to have this discussion before we’ve plunked down the cash because the system we start with is going to be the system we’re stuck with, and if the costs are high it will be hard for it to grow and or even survive in maintenance mode as equipment eventually needs replacement.
Specifically what about my idea wouldn’t work?
The point of the expensive docking stations, and the main problem with your suggestion of cheap racks combined with some sort of gps/combo lock/smartphone app system, is that for the bikeshare program to be successful, barriers to use need to be as low as absolutely possible. The docking stations are standardized and visible, and they have everything you need to get a bike – all you need is a credit card. If every person had to download an app (assuming they even have an appropriate phone) to use the bikes, it would very likely stop a large number of people from even trying. The docking stations also provide a relatively foolproof locking system – you have to roll the bike successfully into the dock to finish your session. If people were using some kind of u-lock, you would have to rely on every user to lock the bike correctly to a standard rack, and we all know how good people are at locking their bikes. Plus, how would you give people the ability to open the locks? If it’s a physical combination lock, then each rider would have permanent access to the bike once they got the combo. If it’s something electronic that changes all the time, then you’re talking about a much greater expense for a technology that would likely be hard to implement smoothly. Again, the big thing here is to make everything as easy as possible with very few mechanical failures. It costs a lot of money (relative to a normal bike and rack) to do that, but the result is that when a person wants to use one of the bikes, it’s easy to find and use and it works (nearly as possible) every time.
Finally, though I hate to just say, “this is the way it’s done,” this really is the way it’s been done successfully in a lot of cities, and if there’s a model that works, I think we’d do well to follow it.
@byogman : I don’t think we can have a rational discussion on costs and tradeoffs without also having a detailed idea of the current plan’s costs.
It’s not that your ideas are without merit, it’s merely that discussing concrete ways to cut costs without knowing anything beyond “$8K/bike” is impractical.
Even implied basic assumptions, like “we want to maximize the number of available bikes,” aren’t necessarily shared by all parties. Personally, I want “enough” bike share bikes, not “as many as possible.”
From a technical perspective, your suggestions for GPS-enabled, self-charging, self-reporting bike modules, with central servers providing access via Web and portable apps, are certainly possible; however, I’d be quite shocked if such a system could be developed, tested, deployed, and maintained with public money for less than several million…and that doesn’t include the common overhead costs shared by all bike share plans, like maintenance, administration, and actually buying bikes.
Would that produce better results than the existing proposal? I have no idea.
From a maintenance and growth systems perspective, isolating the complexity to a few fixed locations (e.g. with smart corrals/docks) makes ongoing maintenance far easier than distributing the complexity to every bike in the system. (And yes, we could also add wireless self-updating capacity for the software, but A) ouch and B) good luck…you are now developing an embedded smartphone without voice capability and with a really funky form factor.) Speaking from professional experience, I can assure you that producing such a device will be frighteningly expensive, even if the eventual finished goods cost is a mere few hundred dollars. Take a look at the costs of FCC certification for electromagnetic radiation emission, for example…)
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