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Posts from the "Bike Sharing" Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Intrepid KTVU Reporters Expose the Shocking Story of Bike-Share!

Frank Somerville puts on his skeptical anchor man face to introduce KTVU’s electrifying exposé about “government bikes.”

KTVU sure blew away viewers yesterday with its latest muckraking segment on the government scandal that is bike-share.

My mind, for one, was blown by the audacity of KTVU’s comically disingenous attempt to paint bike-share as nothing more than an “obscure government agency’s latest spending spree,” as anchor Frank Somerville introduced it.

“Even its strongest supporters concede there’s no actual scientific data showing the multi-million dollar plan will improve our air quality,” he said.

Well, KTVU reporter Mike Mibach didn’t really seem interested in actually answering whether bike-share has helped reduce driving in any of the 500 cities that have launched it — not even DC’s Capital Bike-Share (yes, that’s the label on the sample bike shown in his segment). In DC, bike-share shattered expectations in its first year with 18,000 registered members logging over a million trips — double the projections. According to survey data, the system led to an overall increase in transit and bicycling use, and an average savings of $891 per year in transport costs for users.

But according to KTVU, it’s all just a waste and the SF region shouldn’t try to get results like that. Nope, we should just sit back and watch as NYC launches a 330-station system (which got 4,000 people to sign up within the first 24 hours of membership sales).

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SFMTA Releases Preliminary Map of Bike-Share Station Locations

Image: SFMTA

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency has released a map of 41 locations [PDF] being considered for the first 35 bike-share stations in downtown SF. Six of those stations will be installed, “pending additional funding,” after the launch of the initial 350-bike pilot project, the agency’s website says.

“With its abundance of factors conducive to bike-sharing and its high concentration of regional transit, the downtown Market Street corridor from Van Ness to the Embarcadero and the surrounding neighborhoods immediately jumps out at as the best place to start a limited-scale bike-sharing system that we hope will prove successful early on and form the basis of a much larger system,” the SFMTA said on its website, where you can find more detail on how the station sites were chosen.

The long-delayed launch of bike-share is set for August, though the rest of the 500 bikes originally promised for San Francisco won’t come until some months later due to a lack of funding, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management Distict, which is coordinating the five-city program.

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As Bike-Share Pilot Lurches Along, Supe Wiener Calls for Full-Scale Launch

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Barclays Cycle Hire in London. Photo: mikesandra4/Flickr

While San Franciscans eagerly await the repeatedly-delayed launch of the Bay Area’s small-scale bike-share pilot program, which has now been downsized to a minuscule 700 bikes (350 of them in SF), Supervisor Scott Wiener says San Francisco needs to take the initiative to move ahead and launch a “full-scale system” throughout the city by next year.

Wiener plans to introduce a resolution [PDF] at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting calling on the SF Municipal Transportation Agency to move beyond the pilot being planned by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and launch a citywide bike-share system by 2014. American cities including New York, Chicago, Portland, and Los Angeles are all expected to launch their respective systems by then.

Scott Wiener at Bike to Work Day 2011. Photo: Dyami Serna, SFBC

“All over the world, cities are recognizing the tremendous value of city-wide bike-share programs in reducing traffic, improving public transit and stimulating the local economy,” Wiener said in a statement. “Here in San Francisco, we should be doing everything we can to establish and start reaping the benefits from a full-scale bike share program.”

Bike-share, which the SFMTA has called one of the most cost-effective ways to increase bike ridership, was originally promised to launch in the spring of 2012 in five cities along the Peninsula, from San Francisco to San Jose. However, the BAAQMD has delayed the 1,000-bike pilot program, citing the general complexity of coordinating a regional system between five municipalities.

Karen Schkolnick, the BAAQMD’s grant programs manager, said the current launch date is set for this August, and that the pilot will initially only include 700 bikes, though the agency expects to deliver the full 1,000 bikes within the following six months. The reason, she said, is that the $7,000,000 program won’t be adequate to provide the 1,000-bike system as originally thought, and the agency hopes to get more funding from private sponsors with the initial 700-bike launch. “Basically, we used local funding to seed it,” she said.

Ultimately, said Schkolnick, the BAAQMD hopes the system will sustain itself on sponsorship funds and membership fees, and expand to the East Bay with as many as 10,000 bikes. But Wiener said he wants to make sure “we’re not just, in the future, waiting on the Air Board. I believe we should be pushing forward with our own expansion.”

“We know what we need here, and we need a lot more bike-sharing,” he said.

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Yet Another Bike-Share Delay: Launch Now Set for Summer 2013 or Later

Bike-share in the Bay Area will now arrive no sooner than the summer of 2013, roughly a year and a half after the original launch date, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Alta Bicycle Share, the chosen vendor, is still negotiating a contract with agencies in the five cities in which the system is planned to launch, said BAAQMD spokesperson Ralph Borrmann. Once the contract is signed, he said, the launch will come at least six to eight months later.

A bike-share station in Anaheim. Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

Few details are available on the causes of the repeated delays. The BAAQMD offered the same explanation given in July, citing the complexity of launching the 1,000-bike system in multiple cities along the Peninsula. Alta has not responded to requests for more information.

“Things are moving along,” said Borrmann. “They’re still working on contractual and administrative issues in dealing with a larger-scale program like this. I believe this is the only one that’s going to be region-wide like this.”

The multiple delays of bike-share — a program which SFMTA staff has called one of the most cost-effective ways to increase bike ridership — have kept San Franciscans waiting while bike-share systems thrive in peer cities like Washington, D.C., Boston, Minneapolis, and Denver. California’s first bike-share system launched this July in Anaheim, and is expected to expand in Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles in the coming months.

Alta is the dominant bike-share vendor in major North American cities, and plans to launch other systems next year in New York City, Chicago, and Portland, where it is based. The New York launch — set to be the nation’s largest — has been delayed by  software glitches, but it’s unclear if those issues have affected the launch of the Bay Area’s system.