Posts Tagged ‘bike sharing’

Detroit public bike share study seeks feedback

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Toronto bike shareThe Detroit Public Bike Share study is well underway. Data gathering is underway, and as part of that, the consultants are asking where you might want to see bike share stations within the Greater Downtown Detroit area. Please visit their web site, and provide your feedback.

If you prefer, you may give your input at the following locations:

  • D:Hive Welcome Center (1253 Woodward)
  • Detroit Public Library – Main Branch lobby (5201 Woodward)
  • Detroit Public Library – Elmwood Branch (550 Chene)
  • Detroit Public Library – Bowen Branch (3648 W. Vernor)

The study has two components. First is to determine the feasibility of such a system. Will there be enough users based on the density of destinations, the bicycle infrastructure, and more. Bike shares work best in urban areas where the distances between destinations isn’t too far.

The second part of the study is to develop a business plan. That plan will estimate the costs of building and operating the system, makes suggestions as to who might run it, determine a cost structure and more. This information will be based on what other cities are successfully doing, but tweaked with the feedback we’ve given them.

For example, New York City is being paid to install their bike share system. That’s because selling advertising on the system generated significant funding in New York, unlike most other U.S. cities including Detroit. We’ll likely have to rely on federal transportation dollars to buy the system and rely on sponsorship and membership to keep it running.

One area we’ve highlighted from the start is equity. In order to rent a bike, one needs to put a deposit on it typically with a credit or debit card. We’ve asked for options on how those without these cards or who might not be able to afford the membership fee could use the system. Some systems had partnered with local banks and social service providers to solve these issues. Or, it may make more sense to simply increase bike ownership rather than adapt the system. The bottom line is increasing bicycle transportation access for the entire community and there is no one solution.

An often asked question is won’t the bikes get stolen. That was a concern early on. One vendor noted that they’ve only had one bike stolen nationwide. Basically, these bikes aren’t racing machines. They’re very unique looking. It would be much easier for someone to steal a privately owned bike rather than one of these.

For more updates, follow @DetBikeShare on Twitter.

Detroit biking articles all over the local media

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

A couple weeks ago we wrote about seven different biking articles that ran in the Detroit media.

Well here’s another nine!

Cycling for Health

Our friend and longtime Detroit cyclist Cassandra Spratling wrote this article in the Detroit Free Press. The Daley’s adoption of biking as transportation — and how they lost 210 pounds between them — is quite a story.

When Don and Darla Daley dine at restaurants near their Royal Oak home, they no longer drive their car.

It’s the same with quick trips to the store or nearby Royal Oak Farmers Market. They hop on the bicycles they bought two years ago — their favorite form of recreation and exercise.

“I never thought I’d love it as much as I do,” Darla Daley says. “Other bikers wave at you. It’s just fun.”

There are other health success stories included here as well.

Cycling for Green Jobs

The Free Press also ran this story on Vanita Mistry and her Detroit Greencycle company that provides curbside recycling.

Four days a week before heading out to her day job, Mistry straps an 8-foot trailer to her mountain bike and pedals for several hours through a number of Detroit neighborhoods, including Clark Park, the Eastern Market district and Corktown to pick up recyclables and compost from her regular customers.

She totes twelve 18-gallon bins on her trailer, with a capacity to carry up to 300 pounds. Mistry separates plastic, cardboard, paper, glass and aluminum. She also collects composting material.

“I find that I’m driven more by public service and giving back,” Mistry said. “What motivates me is knowing I’m making a difference in the work I’m doing, and I’ve found that Greencycle is one of many ways I strive to make a difference in my community.”

Next, the Huffington Post continues their series on Detroit biking with an interesting look at the city’s bike messenger history.

CBS Detroit also joined in with this article on Shane O’Keefe’s Hot Spokes food delivery company.

O’Keefe said it’s sometimes a challenge to balance several meals inside his thermal bike box and his hands, but he does it. O’Keefe said they’ll deliver in any weather — even deep snow.

The last time they could not make a delivery was more than two winters ago during a major snow storm.

O’Keefe said he does not own a car and he’s glad he doesn’t have to pay for gas while trying to run a delivery business.

Critical Mass

Again, the Huffington Post published this article, Detroit Critical Mass Helps Area Cyclists Find Common Ground On City Streets. It accurately paints a mixed view on how successful this ride is. Interestingly, the critics aren’t motorists, but other Detroit cyclists. We’ve heard from critics of this popular ride as well: it’s too fast, too long, too organized, and it caters too much to suburban cyclists who drive to the city for the ride.

Ironically enough, the Detroit Critical Mass ride was moved to this location in part because of its free car parking. The bike lanes being installed this year eliminate much of that free parking. Will Critical Mass move again because of the bike lanes?

A View from Below

The Lakewood Observer from the Cleveland-area published, The Detroit Comparison: Sam Willsey’s Recent Cycling Experience. It’s an interesting article that gives the impression that Detroit is ahead of Cleveland in terms of adding bike lanes and trails. We’re not sure how both cities compare, but it seems we have much lower traffic on our streets.

The article does get a couple things wrong. We do have a bike advocacy group — the Detroit Greenways Coalition. And, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is not proposing or significantly funding these projects. Non-profits and the City are the ones proposing, while funding comes from a variety of state, local, and philanthropic sources.

A Bicycle Lending Library

Stories about Fender Bender’s plan for a community-based bike share program were published in both Mode Shift and the Huffington Post.

From Mode Shift:

Like any bike sharing program, The Bicycle Lending Library will rent bikes out from one to four days with the single-day rental being the most “expensive” and adding days will make the rental cheaper. [Sarah] Sidelko says the program is going to be very affordable, but does not have the specific dollar amounts worked out yet.

In addition to renting a bicycle, the Library will also lend out a helmet, a bike light and lock and a map of Detroit, which will have an emphasis on bike lanes and greenways, and will have other prominent destinations peppered in.

Detroit Cycling History

The Huffington Post rounded out their bike series by touching on the city’s rich cycling history. The article is primarily an interview with the Hub’s Jack Van Dyke.

And on a related note, the web site Roads were not Built for Cars ran this story on Henry Ford and his connection to cycling back in the day. The web site’s author Carlton Reid was recently in Detroit. We had the opportunity to give him a bike tour that connected our cycling history. During our ride he asked, “Are we downtown?”. Yes we were. It was midday on a Friday and the streets were ours. There was very little traffic. He was rather impressed and said, “This is the cycling city of the future.”

Oakland University keeps pushing Wallmart bike sharing

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Oakland University in Rochester Hills is expanding their on-campus bike share program.

According to the Oakland Press:

The pink bikes purchased by the university this year are part of the Bike Share program that allows any student to ride one of the bikes from and to any part of the campus for free, said Greg Jordan, director of OU’s recreation center and the Bike Share program.

Students are on the honor system to keep the bikes on campus for the next student to pick up and go on his or her way.

Jordan said: “What I am proud of is that the students of OU have chosen to make this an honor system program,” from among the many kinds of bike programs on campuses throughout the country, such as rental or signing them in an out for a certain period.

Will it work? From what we’ve seen first-hand and read about elsewhere, this is an unsustainable approach. The unlocked bikes eventually get stolen or damaged.

As Joel Batterman commented on college honor system bike sharing when we first covered this story in 2009, “…typically only succeed at very isolated rural campuses.”

In addition, there is the issue of durability. The OU bikes are sold by Wallmart for $89. At that price they probably aren’t very durable for a single-owner when stored inside a garage.

This 26″ Women’s NEXT La Jolla Cruiser Bike is styled in a classic design, with an extra-low dropped top tube for maximum comfort. Its full aluminum frame reduces the weight to an incredible 28.5 lbs., and makes the 26″ NEXT women’s bike easy to handle… Play it safe! Always wear a helmet and safety pads when you ride.

OU’s Greg Jordan did tell the Oakland Press that “one of our challenges with the program is as heavily used as it is, is keeping up with maintenance and wear and tear on the bikes.”

What’s odd is these bicycle apparently do not have baskets or a rear rack for carrying items.

What about bike facilities?

OU’s roads are fairly poor for biking. They’re not Complete Streets. It seems investing in those while encouraging Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills to do the same would be a first step to increase bike commuting.

Michigan State University has been making those investments and building more bike lanes. They’re seeing big increases in bike commuting. They’ve received a Bicycle Friendly University award as well.

And MSU does rent (and even sell) bikes. Those renting do place a deposit on the bike and are responsible for their return. The bikes come with locks and can get free maintenance through MSU Bikes Service Center. Go Green!

Bike Share video from Oakland Press

Public bike sharing in Detroit

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

A couple years ago, NYC’s Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said public bike sharing would transform urban transportation.

Given the number of cities investing in such systems, that seems to be coming true.

There have been a number of discussions about a Detroit system over the past years. Such a system would complement the Woodward light rail investment by expanding its reach into the surrounding neighborhoods and connecting with places such as Corktown, Eastern Market, and Hamtramck.

Typically, bike share systems are city-led efforts. However, that’s not typical of successful Detroit projects which are collaborative public-private partnerships.

One exception is the Twin Cities Nice Ride system. This seems to be the public bike share model that best fits Detroit.

Nice Ride Minnesota was formed through the Twin Cities Bike Share Project, an initiative started by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation in July 2008. After meeting with stakeholder groups and evaluating bike share systems, the Project prepared a non-profit business plan and sought public and private funding. Bike/Walk Twin Cities (a program of Transit for Livable Communities funded through the Federal Highway Administration) announced its financial support in March of 2009, responding to a major funding commitment by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Center for Prevention (funded through the historic tobacco litigation settlement).

One likely reason for their success — over 100,000 rides in 2010 — was their impressively detailed business plan. The plan’s Phase I estimated the system startup costs at $3.4 million with $680K of in-kind donations and an annual operating budget of $1.6m. Modern public bike share systems are not cheap!

This Phase I plan was for 75 kiosks and 1,000 bikes over the 7.75 square mile service area. (Their actual installation was lower.) This provides 9.7 stations per square mile, which is a somewhat lower density than other systems.

Nice Ride is now expanding with help from the McKnight Foundation to 116 stations throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The city of Portland is also beginning a bike share and they’ve reviewed other systems. They note that station density is a key to success.

Dense systems tend to increase bike utilization rates, whether the systems are large (e.g., Montreal 500 stations at 27 stations/sq mile with 2.5 trips/bike/day) or Dublin 37 stations at 15 stations/sq mile w/ 10 trips/bike/day). Conversely, Minneapolis system has about 9 stations/sq mile which allows more districts/neighborhoods access to the system but has a much lower utilization rate at roughly 1 trip/bike/day. Portland plans to mirror Montreal in station density. Effective utilization not only requires a density of station but a high density of uses within the service area to be successful. Portland has chosen to locate the vast majority of stations in the city’s highest density districts related to employment, residential, commercial activity and tourist destinations.

Given Detroit’s greatly varying density, some analysis would be required to help determine optimal station placement.

Funding a Detroit System

Where could Detroit get the funding to build a Nice Ride system in the Motor City?

One likely target is Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funding, which is sub-allocated to SEMCOG. Those federal dollars require applicants to show how their respective projects improve air quality. A Nice Ride system can do that by reporting on the number of bike trips taken, many of which would be replacing car trips.

With CMAQ funds only paying up to 80% of the total costs, private funding would likely be required. Finding private funding might not be too difficult if the bike share connects downtown employers to the light rail and elsewhere. For example, imagine the value of having bike share stations at the Blue Cross Blue Shield campus and their other offices at the Renaissance Center.

Other Federal Transit Authority (FTA) grant funding may also be a possibility. The FTA recently announced that “all bicycle improvements located within three miles of a public transportation stop or station shall have a de facto physical and functional relationship to public transportation.” It’s likely that nearly all of the bike stations in Detroit would be within 3 miles of the Woodward Light Rail.

Bike Share Detroit

A Detroit bike sharing web site and proposal has been recently proposed. While we applaud their enthusiasm, we don’t see enough details or funding to have a working system like the Nice Ride. A proposal of this scale might work on a much smaller service area (e.g. a college campus) rather than Downtown and Midtown.

The stations density appears to be about 1.5 stations per square mile — a fraction of what others consider as the minimum. Phase 2 expands north along the Woodward corridor to 11 Mile with an even lower station density.

Our preference is to take advantage of the Twin Cities’ experience, learn from their mistakes, and through a collaborative effort, invest in a system that gets more people in Detroit on bikes more often.

Light rail and bike sharing

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Here’s an exciting Journey to Detroit video that explores the types of transportation choices we could have in this area.

Sometime in the not too distant future, John wakes up in suburban Chicago on a Saturday morning and heads to a White Sox game…in Detroit. Join him on a 300 mile journey to Detroit’s Comerica Park as he experiences the transportation options of the future: a neighborhood electric car share program, smart phone ticketing, high-speed rail, and connecting light rail. This clip is brought to you by America 2050 as part of its “A Better Tomorrow” project to visualize America’s future communities and transportation systems.

Notice that bike sharing systems at transit stops and hubs are among the transportation choices. There have been some preliminary discussion of bringing a bike sharing system to Detroit much like other big cities are currently doing. In speaking with NYC DOT Commissioner, she said she believes bike sharing systems will transform America’s large cities.

But what can make bike sharing systems work well is a connection to public transportation. For example, bike sharing could greatly improve the usability of the proposed M1 Rail on Woodward. Bike sharing could connect the M1 Rail to places like Corktown and Eastern Market.

Minneapolis, Minnesota recently studied public bike sharing an developed a non-profit business plan. It seems this plan could possibly be applied to Detroit.

Minneapolis will launch their “Nice Ride” bike sharing program this summer. They recently chose a vendor and will have 1,000 bikes in 80 kiosks — 65 of those kiosks by this June. It’ll be interesting to see how well their system works and how it could be replicated in Detroit.