Largest Bike Share Program in America Launches in NYC

Comments

1
LOLBIKES or I Can Has Bike Share didn't make the poll! Either/both of those get my vote.
2
I heard once, many years ago, that the UW was going to have a bike-sharing program, with yellow bikes. I wonder whatever happened with that.
3
(Tangent, I know, sorry.)
4
I hate to sound negative, but I worry about these bikesharing programs. Apparently Paris did this sort of thing in the 70s/80s some time, and all the bikes were eventually stolen, repainted, and sold in Amsterdam.

I fear the same fate for us.
5
@4

Look up Vélib' and let your mind be blown.
6
We should call them SLUTS, obviously.
7
My favorite complaint by rich asshole New Yorkers are the people complaining that the bike racks are ruining the precious historical ambiance of their quaint nineteenth-century streets -- which are lined with automobiles on both sides.
8
Wait, no, call them murdcercycles!
9
The only Boeing name I could come up with: Boeing 0.787
10
@4 Right, because it definitely isn't working out in any of the many other major cities with bike share programs.
11
My understanding is that it is working well in el D.F. (Mexico City) where you'd there there would be even more incentive to steal the bikes (due to the level of poverty). I'm sure they considered all of this so I have confidence that it will work out in NYC. Biking there in summer is heaven - Riverside; Central Park; Brooklyn Bridge...
12
I was just in London where the Barclay bike share appears to be doing booming business.
13
I recently used the bike-sharing program in the noted bicycling Mecca of, uh, Nashville, of all places. Nice way to toddle around for the afternoon. 'Bout time we did it here.
14
@8, "The victim was not riding a bike from the city’s long-awaited Citi Bike program", but, hey, we'll mention it anyways, because we're assholes. The author also helpfully mentions that it is "unclear" if the dead man was wearing a helmet, even though a helmet wouldn't have helped him when he was hit by a car.

The Daily News sucks donkey balls.
15
@4, Having grown up in NYC and my bike stolen, I tend to agree that it will be the Largest Bike Theft Program in America.
16
(Sigh) The bikes have tracking chips in them, dummies. And when you're not riding it, it's locked in a rack. However, I leave mine unlocked when I run into the drug store (that's one of the few places I frequent that does not have a rack), but even the bums around here know not to touch them when they're unlocked. Daily, 4-bike user here that pays 70 dollars a year and would happily pay more for this huge (healthy) convenience.
17
@12, visiting London for the first time this week I've been delighted to see the Barclayscycles so widely in use. The opposite-side driving here has me too flummoxed to dare trying one myself.
18
@17, lucky you. Visit the Black Friar pub before you leave. You won't regret it.
19
Tonight, I'm going to run several errands, using 3 bikes. The library has a Capital Bikeshare rack, the grocery store has a C.B. rack, and there's a rack outside my building. The whole process is more convenient on Capital Bikeshare bikes than it would be with a car or even my own bike.

http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/
20
I should hasten to add that the Barclays name is purely an advertising buy. The whole bike share scheme is publicly funded.

@18, thank you, but sadly I leave tomorrow morning. I'll add the Black Friar to my list for if I'm fortunate enough to get a next time.
21

Why not let private enterprise SoBi handle it. Their bike doesn't require specialized racks and has all the technology needed to sign up and rent right on the bike itself!

http://socialbicycles.com/
22
#4: I hate to pile on (jk), but literally every city on the planet except Seattle already has a functioning bikeshare system. I mean "literally" metaphorically. But when we're behind Salem and Kansas City and cities in South America and Asia you've never heard of, and literally (metaphorically) every city and town in Europe, it's pretty bad.
23
@22 Yes, but are they using *vegan* bicycles?

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/9-surpr…
24
Somehow, places as diverse as Mexico City and Buenos Aires have working bike share programs.
But, I know, those are First World countries, whereas we are a Third World country, and we steal things more, or something.

https://www.ecobici.df.gob.mx/home/home.…

plus, in both of those socialist countries, they have TAXES!
Luckily, we are God's chosen, and we dont believe in em.
25
I use ecobici in Mexico City every day, I now can't imagine life without it. It works near perfectly as a form of transit, you get 45 minutes free to get to your destination. If you want more time, you must wait 5 minutes to start the free clock again, keeping bikes available for new commuters. The only flaw is that it stops at 12:30am. There is no theft, the bikes are coded and of a unique style, and you just lock them into their stations and use a card to release them. It's awesome, because there is a ton of bike theft here, and so ecobici frees you completely to leave the bike behind with no worries, and take a cab or subway home if you want.
26
@4 (treacle) and @5 (Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn): Paris is a bit of a special case. In Paris, pointless vandalism is the municipal pastime. (In Marseille, it's theft.)
27
@1 (mitten): I Can Has Bike? would get my vote. For what it's worth, Seattle has some pretty vicious climbs compared to most other cities that have bike-share programs. Electrically assisted bikes would make the program usable by a much larger base.
28
Bike-a-licious
LikeBike
Power to the Pedal
Pedalicious
Bicycle Built for You
B hereandthere
B4U
Puget Pedals
Cascade Cranks
Hills? Peh.
29
It will be a flop, just like London's is a flop. I spent eight days there in April, and all over town I saw racks full of blue share bikes with Barclay's ads on them. In that entire time I saw fewer than five of them in use.
30
#4, after I was in London I went to Paris, where there's a bike sharing system. That one seems to be well-used. Saw lots of people on them, virtually all appearing to be tourists. It's a mystery why London's isn't used (despite what #12 wrote) while Paris's is used. My guess is that it's because London's streets are narrower and its boulevards faster and more crowded. I will be pretty surpised if N.Y.'s works out, although we'll never get a good answer on that because the propagandists will either cover it up or blame it on the evil automobile.
31
@29: There was a rack outside my hotel in Bloomsbury. At 8am it was full. By 10am it was empty.
32
#31, I stayed at King's Cross and walked through Bloomsbury a lot. I don't recall if the racks there were empty, but I do remember looking for people on the share bikes. Saw maybe two or three of them the whole time I was there. And I hit London during a week of pretty good weather, a few days before and after the marathon. Did a whole lot of walking.

I just didn't see many share bikes. I wasn't about it to do it, not with the crowded streets and traffic being mirror image, but I was curious about the whole thing so I was on the lookout. I saw maybe 100 non-share bikes on the streets while I was there, and of course thousands of motor vehicles. Biking just isn't popular in the streets of London regardless of what anyone might want to say otherwise.

Paris is a bit different. The share bikes were more popular, but there didn't seem to be many non-share bikes there. Bicycling seems to be tourist activity. When the locals aren't walking or taking the Metro, they're either in a car of some sort (including taxi), a bus, or on a motorcycle or scooter.

Paris, in particular, because of its compact size, struck me as a good place for electric cars. Especially seeing as how France gets 100% of its electricity from nukes, and therefore the swap from gas or diesel to electric would reduce carbon emissions by 100% per conversion. There are some electric share cars there, but I don't know how popular they are.
33
Also, #31, while I don't have a specific memory of any share racks in Bloomsbury (well, kind of a partial memory of one, but not a complete memory) I do recall noticing (and hearing the person I was there with also noticing) that the racks of share bikes everywhere sure seemed full -- so full that it seemed logical why we weren't seeing them being ridden anywhere.
34
@28: Puget Pedals - it wouldn't work but I like it!
35
I'll be surprised if bike sharing works in N.Y., and shocked if it works here, although in Seattle the definition of what works will be so low that the bike nazis will declare success no matter what. But by any objective definition, of works, it's not going to work here. Half the year sucks for riding; the tourism season is short; the hills are high; the bikes are clunky.

The only way these things could ever be popular in Seattle is if they were electrified. Which would be interesting, because any cycle with a motor (electric or gas) must be licensed and registered and pay a road use tax, and the rider must have a motorcycle endorsement on his driver's license. Let's see the bike nazis get around that one.
36
@32: London is a relative newcomer to the urban biking scene. 20 years ago there was no cycling infrastructure (I lived there for a summer and brought my bike over). Now there are a ton of bike lanes in the city center.

I simply didn't see what you saw: Those Barclays bikes got plenty of use, and the turnover at the racks I was near (the Russell Square tube stop as well) was high during the course of a weekday.
37
Well, we're at an impasse then. I'm no friend of the bike nazis here or anywhere, so either you or someone else will inevitably accuse me of seeing what I want to see and ignoring what I want to ignore, but I really was looking for these things in use.

I must have walked between King's Cross and the Thames a dozen times, by various routes, including many times through Russell Square. There were some bicyclists, but almost all of them were private bikes. Barclay bikes were a rare sight. So rare that, after three or four days I had my eyes peeled looking for them. They were all over the place in racks, but no one was riding them.

Paris, like I say, was a somewhat different story. More of them there, no denying it. After London, I expected to be chortling about the bullshit bike sharing programs, but the one in Paris seems fairly popular with tourists. I don't want to overstate that, though. We were there for six days and saw maybe 100 share bikes in use, compared with thousands of motor vehicles.

One thing to say about both cities, and about European cities in general, is that American tourists go to the central, old parts. Not so much to the newer areas and suburbs, which wherever you go are even more motor-centric. Even "successful" bike-share programs are basically central city affairs.
38
If I'm right about bike sharing being mainly a tourist thing, London's mirror image traffic might be a big reason for what I quite firmly think, based on what I saw, is sharing's failure there. And it's not just mirror image on traffic. The streets are quirky enough that there are oddball one-ways and kinda-sorta half-one-ways that are hard to describe but bewildering from a pedestrian viewpoint let alone on a bike.

I'd been there a bunch of times before, but usually on business and mostly in a chauffered vehicle. I like to walk, and did as much walking this time as I had done on all the other visits combined. I was tempted by the share bikes a couple times, but then I thought about the street layout and decided to keep walking.
39
#31, something occurred to me. If you're right about the rack in Bloomsbury, my guess is that it might get more use because that's also a student area. That's the only explanation I can think of. But, like I say, we saw hardly any Barclay bikes being ridden in London. By the way, the person I was with isn't nearly as down on "bike nazis" as I am, so we'd agreed to make every effort to be completely neutral when it came to observing what went on.
40
Keep telling yourself all these things, UB. But tell me something, what is "successful" in your book?

Perhaps it's a system that has accrued over 21 MILLION uses in under 3 years? http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/…

Or perhaps it's a system that, on the whole, covers all of its operating expenses with user fees? http://www.tbd.com/blogs/tbd-on-foot/201…

Perhaps it's a system that replaced over 44,000 vehicle trips in just its first 7 months of operation? http://denver.bcycle.com/News.aspx?itemi…

Failures, all of them. Only tourists use bike share, and very few of THEM even.
41
#40, I know what we saw, and what we didn't see.
42
Using today's bike count in London (which is nearly double the initial count), over those 3 years, each bike is ridden an average of over 2 times a day. Of course, as we see here in DC, some stations are more popular than others. The station near my office is quite popular with both tourists and commuters, so I queue up the app 30 minutes before my "drop dead" time to leave the office, and race out the door to grab a bike when it hits 5 bikes left. Sometimes, I still don't get one (not too much worry, there's another station that is slightly less popular 3 blocks away). Ridership also tends to grow with time, so if you were there early on, sure, it was less-used than it is today. But the facts belie your eyes during one week in a small portion of the city. The fact that, over all sharing systems, ridership tends to be higher on weekdays and during rush hour also belies the idea that it's a tourist trap. Sure, there are FAR more "casual" tourist members than annual members here and I'm sure just about everywhere else. But when I go to Minneapolis later this summer and use bike share with my annual-member friend who lives there, I will use it for 3 days, versus the months and months out of the year he uses it. Same goes for tourists here and everywhere else. Particularly in DC, where it's possible to bike almost year-round, it takes 50+ casual, short-term members to equal the use of one annual member. There are NOT 50x more casual members than subscription members.