Skip to content

Posts from the "Bike Sharing" Category

69 Comments

Bay Area Bike Share Off to Underwhelming Start, Early Usage Data Shows

This post supported by

Photo: Aaron Bialick

Some of the first usage data is in from Bay Area Bike Share. The data is rough, but the number of trips in the first 12 days is underwhelming compared to bike-share launches in New York or Washington, DC.

The Bay Area Quality Management District is still working on getting a real-time data platform set up, but it “will likely not be available in the short term,” said agency spokesperson Ralph Borrmann.

Here are the data points they provided from August 28 (launch day) to September 8:

  • 1790 = Total Registered Annual Members
  • 2128 = Total Casual (1 and 3 day) Members
  • 7691 = Total Trips Taken (system wide)

Divided by the 12 days in the data set, this works out to about 0.92 trips per bike per day. It doesn’t quite stack up to NYC’s Citi Bike, which hit 1.24 trips in the first two days, or DC’s Capital Bikeshare, which had 1.05 trips in its first 10 days. Of course, it’s still very early, and these usage numbers will change. On peak days, Citi Bike now hits seven trips per bike and on routine days averages between five and six trips per bike.

BABS’ results aren’t surprising, either, since bike-share proponents have warned that the small initial size of the system will limit its usefulness.

Even with the relatively low level of usage, there have still been anecdotal reports of stations reaching capacity, suggesting the system may have trouble maintaining balance. SF Weekly featured an interview with Mike Sonn last week (many of our readers may know him from the comments section), who uses BABS to commute from North Beach to Redwood City via Caltrain. Sonn said he’s arrived at a full dock at the 4th and King Station, forcing him to find another dock with a free space and walk back.

Major rail hubs in New York and London have been the hardest places for bike-share managers to maintain balanced stations with both bikes and docks available. Borrmann told SF weekly they’re “still learning the movement patterns for the bikes.”

17 Comments

On the Peninsula, Demand Could Overwhelm Limited Bike-Share Launch

A total of 20 Bay Area Bike Share stations will be installed in downtown Redwood City, Palo Alto, and Mountain View. Click for an interactive system-wide map.

All the way down the Peninsula, excitement around the pilot launch of Bay Area Bike Share comes tempered with a dose of concern about the small number of bikes that will be clustered around Caltrain stations in five cities.

Bay Area Bike Share’s meager scale at the time it launches is sure to limit its usefulness. Half of the system’s 70 stations — holding ten bikes each — will be placed in downtown San Francisco, and the other half distributed among participating cities down to San Jose, which will get 15 stations. Redwood City will get just seven stations, Palo Alto six, and Mountain View seven.

“That’s the big concern,” said Adina Levin, co-founder of Friends of Caltrain. “A lot of current and potential Caltrain riders I talk to are excited about being able to use bike-share in theory, but it’s not serving where they need to go.”

Nonetheless, advocates say the launch of bike-share is overdue.

Image: Bay Area Bike Share

“Bike-share is going to make it easier for everybody to ride a bike more often, whether for work, shopping, or quick trips during lunch break,” said Colin Heyne, deputy director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. “Data from other bike-share systems show not only increased rates of bicycling, but also decreased rates of driving and car ownership, so it can contribute to reducing traffic congestion and improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Hundreds have already signed up for Bay Area Bike Share since membership sales opened on Monday. For $88 per year, members can rent sturdy new celeste-colored city bikes for up to 30 minutes at a time for free, with surcharges for trips longer than that.

The system is set to arrive at a time when both transit and bicycle commuting are surging. Caltrain ridership has increased 80 percent over the past decade, and the number of commuters bringing bikes on board has tripled, according to the agency’s stats. With commuters who are able to use the shared bikes instead of hauling their own bikes aboard, bike-share could free up some much-needed bike storage space on the train.

Read more…

37 Comments

Bay Area Bike Share Memberships Now on Sale

Bay Area Bike Share started selling annual memberships at noon today, and judging by the buzz on Facebook and Twitter, it looks like hundreds of people have already signed up.

Annual members get a year of unlimited rides under 30 minutes for $88 (overage fees still kick in if you take more than 30 minutes). The first 1,000 annual members get a special black key fob instead of the normal blue keys. And for an extra $15, early adopters get two 24-hour passes to share with friends and a Bay Area Bike Share t-shirt.

If you’re not ready to commit to an annual pass, when the system launches you can always pay $9 for a daily pass or $22 for a three-day pass.

In New York City, a few City Council members signed up for Citi Bike soon after memberships went on sale. We have yet to learn which San Francisco supervisor will be the first to stake their claim as a “founding member” of Bay Area Bike Share.

66 Comments

Bay Area Bike Share Releases Pricing and Membership Details

This post supported by

Bay Area Bike Share just got more official with a new website, Facebook and Twitter account.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced the system’s new social media presence along with its pricing and membership details:

Membership rates to join Bay Area Bike Share will be $88 for an annual pass, $22 for a three-day pass and $9 for a daily pass. Each pass provides for unlimited trips during the membership period, with no additional cost for the first 30 minutes of each trip. Trips that exceed 30 minutes will incur surcharges.

Officials say the exact launch date within August will be announced next month, and memberships will go on sale July 15.

The website also says the system will have a smartphone app showing station locations and bike availability. Oh, and the first 1,000 people to sign up for annual memberships “will receive unique Founder Keys in their welcome package.” Nice.

Those who haven’t taken a liking to the celeste color proposed for the bikes — a number of readers have called for “international orange” instead — may be disappointed. At a SPUR forum yesterday evening, BAAQMD’s Karen Schkolnick explained that a different shade of orange was originally considered for the system, but it didn’t work out. “When the manufacturer went through different stages of testing, the quality just wasn’t there,” she said. “We had to pick another color,” and celeste “was the next, most amazing, best choice.”

It’s also worth noting that Bay Area Bike Share will be equipped with GPS on its bikes, which will allow its managers to collect a detailed level of real-time usage data, according to SFMTA staff.

Seleta Reynolds, a planner at the SFMTA’s Livable Streets Subdivision, noted that one advantage of the small size of the pilot launch is that it can show what a large impact even a small system can have. Reynolds quoted New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who launched the nation’s largest bike-share system on Memorial Day, in her speech in San Francisco last week. “Bike-share is a gateway drug,” she said.

“Maybe, bike-sharing’s most important use is in places that are just on the cusp of turning the corner on bike mode split,” said Reynolds. “It normalizes bike riding.”

Streetsblog NYC 13 Comments

Colbert Gets in on This Whole Rabinowitz Thing

It’s not quite as brilliant as Al Madrigal’s segment on the Daily Show last week, but Stephen Colbert’s riff on Dorothy Rabinowitz at the end of this clip is totally worth your time this morning.

15 Comments

SFMTA: New Curbside Space at Market and 10th Will Be a Bike-Share Station

In case you were wondering what would become of the newly empty curb space at Market and 10th Streets, where the traffic lane stripings were re-configured over the weekend, it turns out the SFMTA plans to put a bike-share station there.

“With Bay Area Bike Share set to launch this August, the SFMTA saw an opening to initiate striping changes that would better utilize space on this segment of Market St., and provided room for an upcoming bike sharing station on the south side of Market St, just east of 10th St.,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose wrote in an email.

Fancy that.

The SFMTA says it does plan to re-install the plastic posts along the bike lanes, and Rose said the Market Street bike counter “will be up and running soon after modifications and re-calibration.”

Streetsblog NYC 17 Comments

“The Daily Show” on Citi Bike: “Doesn’t Anybody Have a Real Objection?”

Forget the ridership numbers: you know you’ve hit the big time when Jon Stewart and company spend a full nine minutes satirizing you at the top of “The Daily Show.”

The first segment, which leans heavily on the fact that European cities also have bike-share and pseudo-satirizes unfounded fears about the program’s safety, is funny while not exactly pro-bike. But the second segment, embedded above, is a needed laugh for New Yorkers who have endured nonsensical objections about bike-share from NIMBY neighbors and editorial board members alike.

Correspondent Al Madrigal traveled to the West Village to talk to people who object to bike-share in the pricey Manhattan neighborhood. ”Apart from the 159 meetings, they didn’t say a word,” Madrigal said to a man who claimed the stations appeared overnight and without warning. “Even though that’s not true,” Madrigal asked, “why is it?”

Madrigal also went to Bedford-Stuyvesant to hear from a man who complained that the program wasn’t expanded further into Brooklyn. Let’s just say Bed-Stuy’s residents come off looking a lot more reasonable — and also managed to pop a wheelie for the camera.

72 Comments

Meet Bay Area Bike Share

Bay Area Bike Share officials say this color and design are only preliminary the "front runner" options.

Update 4:53 p.m.: The SFMTA just launched a bike-share station crowdsourcing map (using, we should note, a tool from OpenPlans, Streetsblog’s parent organization). The agency wants “people’s comments on where they would like to see Bay Area Bike Share stations as well as what they think of the initial 35 station locations,” said spokesperson Ben Jose.

It’s probably safe to get excited now.

San Franciscans got their first glimpse [PDF] at how the bikes and the price scheme for the new Bay Area Bike Share system are shaping up at an open house held by the SFMTA yesterday.

The seafoam celeste color and logo on the wheel “skirt guard” shown above are not final — they’re just the “front runner” designs that have come out of deliberations between the various agencies and stakeholder groups involved, said Heath Maddox, the SFMTA’s bike-share program manager.

Bay Area Bike Share's price scheme is expected to be within the normal range of other bike-share systems around the country. Click to enlarge.

“This is a color that hasn’t been used in any other bike-share system, so the manufacturer has to test it on half a dozen different frames to ensure the quality and consistency,” said Maddox.

Bay Area Bike Share, set to launch in August, will be managed by Alta, which also launched Citi Bike — the nation’s largest system — in New York City on Monday. The 6,000-bike Citi Bike system is already being used for more than 10,000 trips per day, and nearly 24,000 members have signed up. Bay Area Bike Share will use the same sturdy bike models as Citi Bike, except they’ll have more gears (seven as opposed to three).

With SF’s launch including only 350 bikes at 35 downtown stations (and another 350 in four cities down to San Jose), advocates have called for SF to move quickly to expand its system, since bike-share systems that are too small to serve a useful range risk under-use and failure. By next spring, Maddox said Bay Area Bike Share is expected to expand to the full 1,000 bikes originally promised for the pilot (which would include a total of 500 in downtown SF).

“We hear loud and clear that people want this to go big, and we want it to go big, too,” said Maddox. “We’re turning over every stone for sums of money to help it hit the ground running.”

Karen Schkolnick, grant program manager for the Bay Area Quality Management District — the agency coordinating the regional program — said that the agency will soon launch a “request for proposals” for private sponsors to help fund an expansion. She also said the BAAQMD has been fielding interest from officials in other counties, like Marin, who are interested in bringing the bike-share to their cities. “We’re busy, busy every day,” she said.

Image: SFMTA

StreetFilms 24 Comments

Citi Bike Debuts in New York City!

SF editor’s note: With Bay Area Bike-Share set to launch in August, this new Streetfilm documenting New York City’s bike-share launch yesterday gives us a preview of what’s to come. Details about Bay Area Bike-Share will be unveiled at an SFMTA open house this Thursday.

Memorial Day 2013 marked a milestone in NYC transportation history: the debut of the city’s bike-share system, Citi Bike. At 330 stations, 6,000 bikes (of a planned 10,000) were available to more than 13,000 members who signed up for a yearly pass — and many of them couldn’t wait to hit the streets!

The press conference at City Hall was a media frenzy. Hundreds of reporters and cameras were on hand to watch Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan ring in the launch. Streetfilms was there at this historic moment and put together this fun four-minute film.

13 Comments

SF Officials, Advocates Take a Ride on BRT and Bike-Share in Mexico City

This post supported by

Supervisor Scott Wiener (the tall one) with the San Francisco delegation at a BRT station platform in Mexico City last week. Photo: SFCTA

More than a dozen city officials and advocates traveled to Mexico City last week to experience firsthand the ease of getting around a city with robust bus rapid transit and bike-share system.

The SF delegation, invited and paid for by organizers at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, included Supervisors John Avalos, Scott Wiener, and Eric Mar, as well as reps from the offices of Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisors David Chiu and Malia Cohen, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, the SF County Transportation Authority, the Planning Commission, the SF Bicycle Coalition, the SF Transit Riders Union, and SPUR. (Streetsblog New York reporter Noah Kazis made the trip last year — check out the dispatches from his visit here, here, and here.)

Mexico City received ITDP’s Sustainable Transport Award this year, and its Metrobus received the organization’s silver rating for BRT systems. It would have been ranked gold, except that crossing between the center transit lanes and the sidewalk was “frightening,” said Michael Schwartz, the SFCTA’s project manager for Van Ness BRT.

The lack of pedestrian safety improvements, said Schwartz, is one mistake San Francisco won’t make with its BRT corridors. “The experience on the Metrobus was amazing — you move quickly, efficiently, and reliably,” he said. However, after getting off the bus, “even though you have a walk signal, sometimes there’d still be cars crossing. You were definitely on guard all the time.”

Metrobus is a network of four corridors that carries 850,000 people per day — about as many as the entire Muni system. “They’ve become so popular, a lot of the choice transit riders — people getting out of their cars — choose Metrobus over the metro,” said Schwartz.

Granted, there are 21 million people in Mexico’s Federal District metropolitan area, compared to San Francisco’s population of 800,000, and 7 million in the Bay Area. On the busiest Metrobus line, which carries 450,000 riders per day, buses arrive every 45 seconds on average. While Muni’s longest articulated buses stretch about 18 meters, a portion of the Metrobus fleet — the double-articulated buses — are 25 meters long.

SF delegates roundly praised the features that make Metrobus so efficient, like physically separated transit lanes, off-board fare machines, and elevated station platforms.

Read more…