Bike sharing programs are booming across the United States, like the Arbor Bike Share system in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Micheline Maynard)
Seven years ago, if you wanted to ride a bicycle in a U.S. city, you probably had to own it. Now, bike-sharing programs are spreading across the United States, expanding — and transforming — transportation options.
Bike-sharing allows riders to pick up a bike in one location, typically at a station, and ride it to another location with a station. Riders can either be members of the program, or one-time users, and can keep the bike as long as they want, paying for the time it is in use.
There are now nearly 1,000 bike-sharing systems in use around the world, and 88 million trips have been taken by U.S. bike-sharing users since 2010.
In 2016 alone, American riders took over 28 million trips, on par with the annual passenger levels of the entire Amtrak system, and higher than the number of people visiting Walt Disney World each year, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. Continue reading
From Tucson to Kansas City, Denver to Detroit, it’s been a busy summer for transportation news.
Here, in our inaugural Curbing Cars podcast, Mark Remillard and I look at some of the stories he’s covered. They include:
Tucson’s new light-rail system, the Sun Link.
The Denver-based study showing that more bikes can actually be good for city safety.
The challenge posed to cities by parking craters.
Take a listen, and share it with your friends.
Would you like to hear more episodes of the Curbing Cars Podcast? Take our survey.
As you can see above, getting a bike ready for airline travel can be an arduous task. Admittedly, bike-touring might not be a large cross section of the population and even David French, who is a regular bike-tourist, agreed in a recent Elliott.org article.
But since the late 1970s, when French brought his his bike along on trips to Europe, he says it has become increasingly difficult and costly for people to travel with their bikes.
Fees have increased enormously for someone bringing a bike on a plane. As Christopher Elliott writes, someone looking to bike-tour should expect to spend between $100 and $300 to check their bike as luggage.
Courtesy of Ride for Climate
The Bixi Logo
With the bankruptcy filing of the Public Bike System Company, more commonly known as Bixi, bike sharing has been getting some stinky press as of late.
Bixi, which is based in Montreal, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year after it was unable to make payments to suppliers and several municipalities, including New York, Chicago, and its hometown of Montreal. The implementation of bike share systems in Vancouver and Portland has been delayed because of the Bixi blunder, according to reports.
The future may seem gloomy in light of recent events, but mobility nuts shouldn’t fear: there are still several promising bike share systems that are expected to pop up across the U.S.:
1. Arborbike – Ann Arbor, Mich.
A rendering of what the Arborbikes will look like.
(Courtesy of Clean Energy Coalition)
This system is arguably long overdue. Ann Arbor is known for being an environmentally-friendly town, and its large concentration of college students makes it attractive place for a system. The Ann Arbor News reports that The Clean Energy Coalition, a local non-profit, expects to launch 14 stations in June at various locations throughout downtown and near the campus of the University of Michigan. The University has pledged to help fund the program, in addition to support from the city and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. Hardware for the program supplied by Wisconsin-based B-Cycle.
The CEC is hoping that area businesses will purchase memberships for their employees or patrons, and they’ve also expressed interest in allowing property owners or developers to underwrite stations around town. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of The Hubway
Many people ride bicycles for health reasons. Now, in Boston, doctors have begun prescribing bike rides to improve the health of low-income residents.
According to the Boston Globe, the city-run program, called “Prescribe-a-Bike,” allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to prescribe low-income patients with a yearlong membership to Hubway bike sharing program, for only $5.
For the $5, patients can ride bikes as many times as they want for 30 minutes or less at a time. They also will get a free helmet, said an announcement from the city and the medical center.
There are nearly 900 Boston residents are already enrolled in an existing subsidized Hubway membership. City and hospital officials are hoping the new program enrolls another 1,000 residents, the Globe said. Continue reading
By Micheline Maynard
If you’ve been to Las Vegas, it’s likely that you’re not thinking about transportation. You’re looking at neon signs, hearing the jangle of slot machines, or watching an elaborate show.
Yet, The Atlantic Cities reports that Vegas might wind up being a major laboratory for the future of car ownership. Specifically, the idea comes from Project 100, which has been launched by Tony Hsieh, the chief executive of Zappos, the online shoe retailer that is based downtown.
Project 100’s name derives from the quantity of vehicles it plans to offer, according to Cities: “100 Tesla S sedans equipped with professional drivers (a la Uber), 100 short-range electric vehicles you drive yourself (e.g. Zipcar or Car2go), 100 bicycles for sharing, and shuttles with 100 stops across the area. At launch, however, the service will be much smaller. No drivers, no shuttles — only a trolley car on an infinite loop and a handful of Teslas rentable by the minute or hour.”
While apparently a first for America, something like it has been tried in Germany. Continue reading
By Micheline Maynard
I’ve been getting to know the streets of Phoenix, figuring out where it’s safe to ride and the streets to avoid. It got me thinking that since I’ve never had a class in how to ride in a city, I ought to look for some help online.
Here’s a video from GristTV that’s informative and entertaining. It’s a great one to watch if you haven’t been on a bike in a while, or you aren’t used to urban cycling. (Bike sharing participants, that could mean you.)
Let us know if you have some urban riding tips to go with these.
Divvy Bikes in Chicago.
By Micheline Maynard
Although New York’s Citi Bikes grabbed most of the bike share spotlight in 2013, Chicago’s Divvy bike share system racked up some pretty significant numbers during its first year.
The city released a flood of data earlier in February, and cyclists in Chicago are pouring over it to see what kind of patterns are emerging. Chicago Streetsblog is doing a great job dissecting the statistics.
One of them is pretty significant. Women hold 31 percent of annual Divvy memberships, but only took 21 percent of trips last year. Nationally, women make up about 43 percent of bike share users. What’s keeping Chicago women from getting on Divvy bikes?
Meanwhile, the numbers show that annual members make up 47 percent of Divvy trips, with non-members taking the majority of trips. Last year, During the 187 days of service in 2013, users made 759,788 trips.
But, Divvy members tend to ride bikes longer when they check them out. Continue reading
More than any other mode of transportation, our Curbing Cars readers get around by walking.
By Micheline Maynard
Back on New Year’s Day (a mere month and three days ago), we asked our Curbing Cars audience to tell us how you planned to get around in 2014. We got a terrific response and now we’re sharing the results with you.
We’re ambulatory. Most of us still use cars, but not as much as we use other types of transportation in the mix of the ways we get places. The number one way Curbing Cars readers get around is on two feet. Almost 80 percent of respondents say they get around most frequently by walking. That was followed by public transportation, used by 69.7 percent; cars, used by 58.1 percent and other modes of transportation, which included running, Zipcars or car sharing programs, and taxis.
Several people told us that they use of a mix of transportation in a single day. “I walk to work every day, bus in bad weather, bike for some errands in spring/summer/fall. use my car mainly for weekend shopping and for getting out of town,” replied one survey participant.
In fact, I’m doing more walking this winter in Phoenix, where I’m a Reynolds Visiting Professor of Business Journalism at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State. I walk to school every day from my home downtown, and I’ve walked to the farmer’s market, the movies, to drinks and dinner, and to the Phoenix Opera in the month since I’ve been here. Even though I walked frequently in Ann Arbor, I am doing even more daily walking here. (And of course, the weather is much better…)
We’re pleased with our choices. People seem to be pretty satisfied with the mix of the ways they get places. About 60 percent of you said you were happy with your transportation mix. About 24 percent said they’d like to change it, and the rest said they would like to change it, but couldn’t for various reasons. Continue reading