Wednesday, September 26, 2012

London's Bike Share Usage Animation

Since it was introduced in 2010, the London bike share program has facilitated more than five million two-wheeled journeys throughout the city. It's amazing what can be accomplished with 8,000 bikes and 570 stations!

Not every station is used equally, however. At least, that's the implication of a new analysis of rider data, performed by Jo Wood, a professor of visual analytics at the City University of London. The video, shows five million trips made using the program's share bikes, mapped across time. As the visualization moves forward, less popular routes begin to fade and more popular ones—like those around Hyde Park and to and from King's Cross Street—become more dense, brighter, and more active.
Of course, it's something that must be seen to be understood. That's just the point: Visualizations such as this help city planners make better informed decisions about the program, eventually leading to a more robust, more efficient, service for cycling citizens.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Elevated Bikeways Another Tool In The Toolbox?

First Chris Hardwicke proposed VeloCity for Toronto; then Sam Martin proposed Skycyle for London. Now Chris points to another another bicycle superhighway in the sky, the Veloway, in Melbourne, Australia. It is cleverly hung off the side of an existing elevated, separated rail corridor. Estimated to cost $20 million, Grant O'Donnell of Melbourne Lifeform Development claims it would take a lot of load off the trains. He is quoted in Bicycle Network Victoria:
We believe this proposal will propel Melbourne forward as a leader in providing technically advanced but practical bike infrastructure. It will provide net state benefits through improved cycle safety, reduced CBD congestion, an easing of pressure on the public transport system as well as being an appealing amenity for tourists and ride to work commuters
Alan Davies in Crikey is not impressed.
While I don’t expect one or two smallish glamour projects would be a problem, any demand for a wider network of veloways, or similar, could be problematic. If it were to promote the idea that ‘freeways’ are necessary in order for cycling to be taken seriously as a form of transport, then it would be a backward step. Cycling will only be viable in the foreseeable future if it creates a dense network of safe cycle routes. The only way that could realistically be achieved is by converting road space to cycling.

This argument was raised in London; I disagreed with it there and will here. Every experience with highways for cars in every country in the world has demonstrated that building them doesn't take cars off the road, it adds more of them. If you build infrastructure like this it moves more bikes more conveniently, and more use it. They then get off and have an even greater need for a local infrastructure of safe bicycle routes.

Davies continues:
I’m not even sure the idea of freeways, if interpreted too literally, translates that sensibly to cycling. Freeways are a separate system that enables trucks, buses and cars to cover long distances at high speed by limiting access and eliminating intersections. Cyclists don’t cover such long distances and easy, direct access to main routes is extraordinarily important – limiting access would have a significant negative effect.
I disagree. if you want people to commute by bike instead of car, perhaps they should have a hierarchy of routes, from local slow complete street to faster dedicated lane to bike superhighway where they can move at high speed and not have to stop at every traffic light and stop sign. I think bike highways make perfect sense. We need more of them.

What do you think?

People Hate Driving, but How Do We Break Their Addiction?

Earlier this summer, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) used a bi-partisan polling team to pose questions about transportation to 800 Americans. Those polled seemed to agree that our current transportation system needs change. According to NRDC, of those 800 polled:
59 percent feel the transportation system is “outdated, unreliable and inefficient”
55 percent prefer to drive less, but 74 percent say they have no choice
58 percent would like to use public transportation more often, but it is not convenient or available from their home or work
68 percent support more local investment in improvements to public transportation (including 63 percent of those who do not use transit), with 39 percent supporting it “strongly”
And, amazingly:
59 percent would like more transportation options so they have the freedom to travel other than by driving.

To a dedicated bicycle activist like me, these poll results are only a surprise in that a majority of Americans want (like me), to drive less. And it seems, they are willing to pay for improvements needed in the public transport system in order to do so.
"Many believe Americans are in love with their cars, but most are frustrated with the lack of options for adequate, reliable public transit service," said Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, the largest labor organization representing transit workers in North America. "This poll clearly shows that taxpayers are willing to put their money where their mouth is – backing increased spending to make better public transportation a reality."
Interestingly, NRDC's poll didn't include attitudes on using biking to help fill in the gaps of public transportation. And, if the percentage of people using a bicycle for daily commuting (less than one percent) is any indication, it doesn't seem like many believe bikes are their ticket to less driving.
But bike activists (including myself) know that, as far as most cities are concerned, not only can biking be faster, more fun, and healthier than driving or transport, it's also a lot cheaper.

Obviously, lack of infrastructure is one big reason people don't switch to biking. But I'd say there's more to it than that. It's also lack of support. Biking, back in 1890, was what the cool people did. These days, if you tell people you bike to work, and enjoy it, skepticism is high.

The gender divide is also a big biking issue. In 2009, according to the League of American Bicyclists (which started life as the League of American Wheelmen), women took just 24 percent of bicycle trips in the United States. In communities across the nation, LAB says, women are underrepresented in all aspects of the bicycle movement — from retail to politics, from advocacy to engineering.
It’s time, LAB maintains, to encourage, engage, and elevate more women bicyclists in the United States. LAB plants to undertake the following actions in its new 'Women Bike' initiative:
* Women Bike will bring together women cyclists at key meetings like the National Bike Summit and Interbike.
* Women Bike will encourage, educate and demonstrate how women can take leadership roles in bicycle advocacy.
* Women Bike will help women become bicycle educators and thought leaders in their communities.

Within the space of about a dozen years, LAB said it hopes American women will "ride their bikes at the same rates as American men for transportation, recreation and fitness". That's a tall order and probably needs a bit of magic to fulfill. Unfortunately LAB hasn't suggested how to get non-bikers to understand the fun factor in biking, nor how to make cycling cool.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mexico City's Bike Share is Growing!

Mexico City's Ecobici bike sharing program is set to get bigger. Much bigger! The plan is to increase the number of bikes from the current 1,000 to around 4,000 over the next few weeks. The target numbers are:

Stations: From 90 to 275
Bikes: From 1,000 to 4,000
Annual Subscribers: From 30,000 to 73,000

"Membership is limited to annual subscribers, so tourists cannot use it. On top of that, the system has a member limit, which until now was 30,000 (sold out). The new member limit will be 73,000, eventually increasing to 100,000."

It would be great if they opened it up to tourists too, but it's a very good step forward.

Via Streetsblog

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bike Share How to Guide

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) has done something really cool, and released a kind of 'how to' guide for cities who are considering setting up a bike-sharing program. It's a fantastic idea and I must give kudos to all those involved! The best way for bike-sharing to succeed and spread is for the best practices of existing programs to be transmitted to new entrants. Otherwise, if every new bike-share has to reinvent the wheel, progress will be slow and we'll see many failures. But if they can benefit from the collective wisdom and experience of others, we're well on our way.

Here's the guide: Bike Sharing in the United States: State of the Practice and Guide to Implementation (pdf)

If you have any interest in bike-sharing, or if you are a policymaker, I highly recommend that you check it out.

In the words of the authors, the objectives of this guide are to:
• Define bike sharing and provide an overview of the concept.
• Describe the steps a jurisdiction should take to plan, implement, and sustain a bike share program.
• Document existing models of provision, infrastructure considerations, and funding options for successfully implementing a bike sharing program.
• Describe metrics for monitoring and evaluating program success.
• Provide a baseline documentation of existing bike share programs in the United States in 2012.

Via FHA (pdf), Streetsblog