Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 36

Thread: Do bike-sharing programs work?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,740

    Do bike-sharing programs work?

    This week Boston rolls out a bike-sharing program with 600 bicycles to be located at 61 stations throughout the city, as part of a broader effort to plan for and promote bicyling. Today the Boston Herald ran a story claiming that the track record of bike-sharing in other cities is largely a failure, due to theft/vandalism, lack of interest, and mismanagement:
    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/reg...icleid=1354137

    Does anyone know of any formal, non-biased studies on the effectiveness of bike-sharing programs? Also, what are generally the benchmarks for success?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    611
    This is a good example of a program that cannot be considered in a vacuum since so much depends on the transit services available and on the urban form.

    The best bike-sharing programs I've seen are big. The bicycles are available like water, and everyone appreciates them.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,395
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post

    Does anyone know of any formal, non-biased studies on the effectiveness of bike-sharing programs? Also, what are generally the benchmarks for success?
    I'm unaware of anything in the literature. You may want to try Denver's B-Cycle (I think analyzed thru Greenprint Denver) and see how they treat their numbers and whether that treatment is credible. HTH.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
    Registered
    May 2004
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
    Posts
    4,763

    Madison

    This b-cycle program just started.

  5. #5
    It seems to me that the very fact that these programs have lasted for years now is some indication that they are a success. Its not as if there are vast pots of money to subsidize them.

    Sarcasm: unlike building car infrastructure which never requires public money.

    Off topic: VERY disappointed with the initial bike sharing locations in Boston. Neither where I live, nor where I work has stations in the initial plan.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    225
    I think the problem with bike sharing programs is they need to be really big to work effectively. There needs to be enough revenue generated every day to pay for the number of bikes you'll lose every day to vandalism, theft or mis-use. The key is the number of bike thefts and the amount of vandalism doesn’t necessarily go up proportionately to the number of bikes. If you have 100 bikes in your system and you may lose one a day (1%), however if you have 1000 bikes you may only lose 5 per day (0.5%), and if you have 10,000 you may only lose 20 per day (0.2%). Quite simply there are only so many vandals and thieves out there and they can’t keep up.

    So the question is: How do you go from no bike-sharing program to a program that has thousands of bikes without going through the initial trial stage that only has a few hundred bikes and will be subject to the highest percentage of loses? Look at Paris’s Vélib' system as a possible solution.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Lone Star State
    Posts
    630
    Nice video on Minneapolis was on Streetsblog today. I was a little concerned with the Boston count of about 10 cycles per station, but it matches the first phase there.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    611
    This is the most impressive bike-sharing program of them all:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/the-bigge...angzhou-china/

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,169
    The bike share program in DC has been phenomenally successful- it makes for such an easy way to get around the city. When I visited in May my friends and I barely used Metro because the bikes were so convenient. Bike sharing has also been successful in foreign cities- especially Montreal and Paris.

    The Boston program is modeled after that- same vendor, same bikes. However, the DC program had a much broader roll-out than Boston had. This I worry about. I'm afraid people like me- who don't live right in the central core- will instantly dismiss the program. Bike stations are supposed to come to the other inner core urban areas (Somerville, Cambridge, Brookline) in the next phase, early 2012.

  10. #10
    There is a single token station in Roxbury (Dudley Square) but even my neighborhood, the South End, is pretty slighted in this rollout. I assume Im going to have to wait til next year to fine the program usable.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    31
    Denver B-Cycle says they have reached 100,000 rides in five months this year, compared with seven months last year, and they continue to add stations; I haven't heard that the program is anything but a success. Anecdotally, I see people riding B-Cycles that definitely don't look like your typical hard core urban cyclist - i.e. business types and tourists. I'm sure the accessible memberships for casual riders are a big factor in this facet of the program's success - it costs $6 for 24 hours and $20 for a week and is just a matter of swiping your credit card at a station to join. Personally, I think a big benchmark for success should be that the program is going to profoundly change how large segments of the population view cycling as viable urban transportation, but I imagine it will take 5 or 10 years to really see those effects and longer to accurately measure them.

    Edit: Not a very balanced article by the Herald. Just because you can find a few programs that have had issues doesn't mean that bike sharing is largely a failure.
    Last edited by 3 mph; 29 Jul 2011 at 12:35 PM.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,061
    Chicago has a B Cycle program with a whooping six stations in the downtown area to start. I actually have a brochure here for it with the rates but the prices on the website which would be more current seem to be half of what is printed in the brochure. Temp passes were initially $10 for the first hour with 4+ hours being $40. Now its $5.00 for the first hour topping off at $20 for 4+ hours. They also have a monthly membership plan with $35 per 30 days, $45 for 60 days and $55 for 90 days. Students can join $25 for 120 days. Members then get the first two hours free and then $2.50 per each half hour topping off at $20 a day.

    With all that said I haven't actually heard how the program is doing.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Ocean to the east, land to the west
    Posts
    1,057
    I am working on the expansion of Hubway to more areas in 2012. Wasn't a user at all until I went out of town and tried the Minneapolis and Chicago systems. The Mpls system rocked- easy to use and lots of stations. Chicago's was very small, really only seemed to work for tourists. And as a tourist I couldn't seem to get the system to work as a one-day renter and gave up. If I gave up, I assume lots of others do, because I really wanted to try it out.

    As an indicator of use, I saw lots of people in Mpls riding their bikes. Only saw one set of people using Chicago's. Chicago's hardware and lack of broad deployment seem to be problems- I think Mpls' was much easier to use and had many more stations.

  14. #14
    I've seen lots of people on bikes. In the spanking new Boston system. Again, just very disappointed in the limited area that they are available. I'll give the system until June 1 of next year to expand or I'll go after it on it's locational decisions (serving affluent downtown areas rather than poorer, nonwhite areas that lack access to cars - how bold).

  15. #15
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,061
    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I've seen lots of people on bikes. In the spanking new Boston system. Again, just very disappointed in the limited area that they are available. I'll give the system until June 1 of next year to expand or I'll go after it on it's locational decisions (serving affluent downtown areas rather than poorer, nonwhite areas that lack access to cars - how bold).
    Do you think it would be profitable in those areas? It is a business right.

  16. #16
    It is run by a private business, but it has millions of dollars of public subsidies. In addition, most (all?) of the bike stations are on public land including parks, sidewalks, and streets (they have taken away a few parking spaces - good in my opinion). It is granted a public monopoly by the city.

    Even if it was a private venture, we can criticize it for choosing not to service poor communities. Boston is a particularly bad place to make the argument that poor neighborhoods can't support private businesses. Take supermarkets, for example. For decades, it was said that poor nonwhite neighborhoods were places that supermarkets could not make a profit. Then suddenly, it was found that they coukd and now most of the city has access to them. So who is to say the bike share company can't make money in the city's poor areas.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    1,150
    I'm not really sure how one would even measure success in this area...

    here in London, it has been received positively, on the whole, but it si costly and I can't imagine that it has made much of an impact on traffic, etc.

    One criticism has been that even in a dnese city like LOndon, the distances are such that the "Boris Bikes" tend to be used msotly by rich/hip folks that live in central London.

    A basic bike is pretty darn cheap, especially to run... On the govt side, I would concentrate on providing safe paths, maybe requiring commercial structures to have plenty of tie-up posts, etc., rather than buy bikes for folks.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    218
    I saw a good summary of 1st generation (i.e. painted yellow bicycles), 2nd generation and 3rd generation bike-share programs (b-cycle and its relatives being the 3rd generation, using technology to manage and check out bicycles, requiring memberships or credit cards, etc.). I wish I knew the citation for this article, but this probably addresses the shortfalls or earlier programs even if there wasn't a huge track record of the 3rd generation. I think Lyons, France was one example of a 3rd generation program pioneer. I encountered this thru a class at U Washington and would be happy to PM you the prof's name.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Twin Cities, MN
    Posts
    4
    Now we get a story of how wildly successful Boston's bikeshare program is:

    http://articles.boston.com/2011-09-0...ns-memberships

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,681
    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    I'm not really sure how one would even measure success in this area...

    here in London, it has been received positively, on the whole, but it si costly and I can't imagine that it has made much of an impact on traffic, etc.

    One criticism has been that even in a dnese city like LOndon, the distances are such that the "Boris Bikes" tend to be used msotly by rich/hip folks that live in central London.

    A basic bike is pretty darn cheap, especially to run... On the govt side, I would concentrate on providing safe paths, maybe requiring commercial structures to have plenty of tie-up posts, etc., rather than buy bikes for folks.
    This is what perplexes me: why "rent a bike" when you can own one for not a lot of money? It seems to me, it just makes more sense to invest in a decent bike that you can use whenever and where ever for a decade or more with minimal investment and maintenance than to be continually renting one. I can see bike renting for visitors or for the occasional user (ex: commute to downtown and then need to attend a meeting 20 blocks away) but "memberships" imply that members will be frequent and regular users. The only convenience I can see for members in renting over bike ownership is that they don't have to worry about storing the bike.

    I guess I'm just missing something.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,740
    I was just in Boston last weekend. As usual, everybody was driving like an idiot and traffic laws didn't seem to apply. Bike riders included.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,395
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I guess I'm just missing something.
    Last I checked, Southwest charged me $125 to ship my bike. Last I checked, when I drove downtown and moved my car I had to pay to re-enter.

  23. #23
    I have a nice bike that I use to ride the bike paths along the river or over to the waterfront. But I would never ride it to work or park and lock it any where for fear it would be stolen. So that makes the a bike sharing program real attractive.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,681
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    Last I checked, Southwest charged me $125 to ship my bike. Last I checked, when I drove downtown and moved my car I had to pay to re-enter.
    I can understand why it makes sense for travelers, just not so much for residents.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,395
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I can understand why it makes sense for travelers, just not so much for residents.
    There are lots of trips in Denver's B-Cycle service area that are painful for cars, as you have to park twice - at the destination and again when you return. On a bike you avoid that malarkey and you get some exercise too. This is a very fit town, relative to the rest of the country. When fitness is part of the culture, it makes a lot of sense.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 7
    Last post: 28 Jun 2010, 10:12 AM
  2. Replies: 7
    Last post: 24 Aug 2007, 9:43 AM
  3. Mexican officials to bike to work
    Transportation Planning
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 07 Apr 2007, 2:56 PM
  4. Happy Ride Your Bike To Work Day!
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 17 May 2004, 3:41 PM