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Bike News Roundup: Motor City to Bike City

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some of the bikey stuff floating around the web in recent weeks.

First up, Motor City to Bike City:

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Pacific Northwest News

Halftime show! Any cartoon with a crying Donald Shoup discussing parking policy is going to get posted here (if you have a cable/sat login, you can watch the whole episode here).

National & Global News

This is an open thread.

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9 responses to “Bike News Roundup: Motor City to Bike City”

    1. Gary

      That’s hilarious! I love the bit about tea and cakes with one’s aunt.

  1. Gary

    And this one:


    That’s 11K+ bikes with green lasers. Should be a good test to see if it really helps as much as I think it should.

    1. Josh

      Bikeshare is already so safe, it would be very hard to tease out any real benefit, especially if they’re retrofitting all the bikes at once instead of maintaining a control group.

  2. Gary

    Re: Hi-Vis with reflective stripes

    Yeah, standing out from the background matters the most, but up here in the nearly ever dark Seattle, when I wear my vest I get more space on the road. Dorky as it is, I don’t care. Unlike the light LUX argument it offends no one.

    PS the writer neglected to mention Fog, which we get enough of around here to warrant wearing clothing that helps you stand out from the background.

  3. Matthew Snyder

    I’d love to see a thorough comparison of Portland’s new bike share system vs. Pronto. As far as I can gather, Portland is spending $12 million ($10M from Nike and $2M they already had from grants, none of which comes from city funds) to get 1,000 bikes on the street at launch. There are no docking stations; the bikes can be left anywhere within the “home area” (like a Car2Go model) and located/reserved online or with an app. Pricing is designed to be more attractive to casual users ($2.50 per use rather than $8/day, with annual memberships in the $120 range).

    Is Seattle “too big” for that kind of Car2Go model to work here? It seems like the cheapest way to expand a system — you just add more bikes and make the home area bigger. Maybe you have to change the rebalancing routes a bit. But it has to be cheaper than building out another dozen docking stations in a new neighborhood, no?

    1. This isn’t a thorough analysis by any means, but the smart-bikes/dumb-stations model has some big advantages for cost:

      – As you say, expanding the service area is easier. Dock hardware is cheaper, lighter, and basically optional.
      – There are necessarily more docks than bikes, so this requires fewer “smart” elements.
      – No need for municipal power and network connections. Though Pronto docks might be solar/cellular installations for all I know. I never heard of the sort of delays RapidRide readers had, and Pronto stations are in a lot of totally random places.

      There’s also a big peak-hour operational advantage, which might make Pronto uniquely well-suited to big cities with directional peak-hour flows. That is:

      – Users don’t have to circle around looking for a free dock at popular destination stations during rush hour (downtown, transit tunnel stations, etc.).
      – System operators don’t have to rebalance for dock availability. To be sure, they’ll still have to rebalance to make sure bikes are available throughout the system, but it doesn’t have to worry about moving bikes around at the height of rush hour to keep docks available.
      – This is particularly advantageous for big events with specific start times. A lot of bikes can converge on venues, and while this may cause a temporary shortage of bikes elsewhere, people heading to the event won’t completely swamp dock capacity. Events big enough to operate bike valets could have these valets also operate a one-stop shop for bike share at the event (attendees arriving and leaving the event, and also system operators performing rebalancing, would just stop by the valet station to pick up or drop off bikes).

      Possible problems:

      – As bike-mounted batteries and electronics degrade over time users could have trouble if they die mid-ride.
      – A user that locks the bike incorrectly could end up in trouble in ways they don’t expect.
      – Even a correctly locked bike is easier to steal or deface than a docking station. Additional bike hardware like batteries for onboard computers might have black-market value.

      All in all I think this system probably scales to large cities better than dumb-bike/smart-dock systems like Pronto, because the system overall is more tolerant of short- and medium-term imbalance. Dock availability can be a big problem in cities where bike-share is really popular like New York, and Portland’s system should largely take care of it.

      1. (In the third paragraph, I meant to say Portland’s model, not Pronto, might be uniquely suited to big cities with big directional commute patterns.)

    2. (Given that Pronto’s biggest problem is that it isn’t very popular… I wouldn’t worry at all that Pronto is too big a system for any particular idea.)

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