One reason Salt Lake City's Bike sharing program could be very popular: the blocks are long
Like other capital cities (DC, Canberra, Brasilia, etc.), in this case the capital of a religion, Salt Lake City was planned by its founders. Unlike the L'Enfant Plan for DC, block sizes in SLC are very large--10 acres--which is about four times the size of a typical block in DC.
Interestingly, in the L'Enfant Plan some blocks are double- or triple-wide, and like the SLC blocks, these longer blocks don't always function that well, especially in commercial districts.
It's a big part of the discussion at the CNU conference and because CNU is all about adaptation, they aren't criticizing the big blocks, but pointing a way forward. See "Urban planners take a few lessons from Brigham Young and Joseph Smith" from the Salt Lake City Deseret News.
It's not hard actually, the blocks can be broken down into smaller units. Umm, like four blocks to one...
Midblock Walkways Project initiative going on as well, to make the blocks more permeable.
At a conference workshop on Saturday they are supposed to be releasing the draft planning document for the program.
But the blocks are long. Here 4 to 5 blocks are one mile.
I joke that if I am by myself and I have to walk more than one-half block, I bike.
Big blocks in Salt Lake City can be conquered by bike sharing (or bikes generally)
In Salt Lake City, 2013 is the year of the bike, according to banners put up by the city and statements by the Mayor. There are also banners for Bike Month, and the transit authority had a big bike event a couple weeks ago. In April, the local bicycle sharing program, GREENbike SLC, launched as well. See "Salt Lake City launches GREENbike bicycle sharing" from the Salt Lake City Tribune.
But there would have to be a bike sharing station every block ideally, or every other block, to make it work.
Participants at the Congress for the New Urbanism meeting can ride the bikes for free, so I have been doing so.
They're fine, the Bcycle bikes, labeled as GREENbike Salt Lake City, sponsored by Rio Tinto--a sponsor in Canada of Bixi bikes also, here because they own Kennecott Copper, which is also developing an old mine outside of the city in a New Urbanist fashion, in a development called Daybreak--and SelectHealth, a local health organization.
Image from the SLC Bike Share Facebook page.
But right now there are only 10 stations spread out over a couple square miles. But there are three stations along Main Street--the light rail runs down the street, one by the Library, one by the Transit Center (I'm going to check it out this morning), another by the Central Library, and one by the Harmon's Supermarket, among others.
Still, getting around Downtown Salt Lake City by bike share is definitely do-able.
But I don't see how membership- based bike sharing systems without advertising revenues on the scale of systems in Paris and without spendthrift visitors (the only reason that the DC system is operations revenue positive is because visitors using the bike sharing system rack up fees for using bikes for trips longer than 30 minutes) can break even. The cost to run the system is high, so you need about 30 members per bike to break even.