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, April 08, 2008

More on bikesharing

Will sends us a link to this MSNBC story, "Bike-sharing services roll into the U.S.," which mentions the soon to launch bikesharing _pilot_ program in Washington, DC, Smartbike.

From the article:

Clear Channel Outdoor, an outdoor advertising company, will launch the country’s first bike-share service in Washington, D.C., in mid-May in partnership with the district’s Department of Transportation. SmartBike DC will initially offer annual subscribers access to 100 bikes at 10 stations in the city’s central business district. Other cities, including San Francisco and Chicago, are eager to follow suit.

Bike sharing is a decades-old concept: offer urbanites and tourists low-cost access to bicycles within the inner city to ease traffic congestion, curb pollution and boost physical activity. Bike sharing, unlike renting, operates on a self-serve model (no attendants) and is geared toward short-term uses. But early bike-sharing efforts were marred by vandalism, high operating costs, and progressively tighter budgets that forced cities and advocacy groups to abandon their best intentions.

Some of us are worried that as a very small scale pilot program, that it might not have much impact, or could even fail. Although it's likely not to fail because the company responsible for the system, Clear Channel Outdoor, manages successful bikesharing programs in Europe.

There is an e-list, worldcitybikes, a yahoogroup you can probably subscribe to, that brings together a lot of the people involved in these efforts from around the world (mostly people in North and South America and Europe).

To show you the kind of collaboration happening, TransLink, the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority based in Vancouver , has created a shared Google Docs spreadsheet with data comparing the various systems around the world.

Newhouse News Service has just put out a story on DC's program, "Bike-sharing program coming to Washington D.C.," although the article is mostly about Congressman Earl Blumenaur.

The dangerous thing about this kind of publicity, oriented to visitors, is that it generate interest and demand that won't be able to be met, given the limited number of locations, bicycles, and hours (the ability to rent a bike through the sharing program during overnight hours is crippled).

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