Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Montreal vs. DC in bike sharing...

(There's something about DC where "dare to be great" just isn't in the DNA, be it bicycle sharing, "Feet on the Streets," or Park(ing) Day...)

From "Do your share in cycling revolution," in the Montreal Gazette:

the city's new short-term bicycle rental service, Bixi, has attracted 10,000 members and 98,000 casual users since it hit the streets last May.
Smart Bike in DC
Time Magazine photo of SmartBike DC.

In "Washington Bike-sharing Survey Results Are In," the Bike Sharing Blog reports on the results of SmartBike DC so far:

Of the 1,000 or so members of the program, 333 responded to the survey. The SmartBike D.C. program is in its pilot stage with 120 bikes, so these results may not broadly apply to other programs, but the data is interesting nonetheless. (...)

Question #2: A majority of the respondents use the bikes less than once per week (62%). This is likely due to the lacking availability of stations. With only 10 stations in the pilot program, most of the respondents find their needs not met as station coverage is poor. However, about a third use the bike 1 - 3 times per week (28%).

Question #3: A majority of respondents use the bikes for social purposes (48%) while commuting is the second most common use (41%).

Question #4: Nearly 70% of bike-sharing trips would have been done by foot had the bikes not been available. However, bike-sharing pulled 16% of the respondents away from driving a personal car for their trip and 19% away from a taxi.

Question #7: Trips combining bike-sharing and the subway or bus was low. A smartcard usable on all three systems, like the D.C. region’s SmarTrip card, could improve these numbers. Also, more stations at transit-accessible and non-transit accessible locations could improve this.

Question #8: 60% already own a bike and 40% don't own a bike. This affirms the belief that people with bikes would use the system. Also, with 40% not owning a bike, bike-sharing is creating bike trips that otherwise wouldn't be made.

Granted, Montreal is a much bigger city than DC. But I think the most number of trips one day using the 120 bikes at the 10 stations thus far is 168.

I do think that bicycle sharing systems require some review and reconsideration over the original hype. At the outset of the Paris Velib introduction, I think all of us supporters of bicycling thought that bicycle sharing was the next best thing. Now my thinking is more considered. I think it's important to have bicycle sharing options, but I think that unless the system is ubiquitous, it's less likely that people willing to bike most every day will find bicycle sharing to be a viable option for them. Instead, they are likely to use their own bicycle.

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