Last week, I rode a B-cycle downtown for the first time. I know, kinda crazy that this is the first real ride I’ve taken on a B-cycle after being a member for three months. But it won’t be my last. If it has to be said, I’ve gone from cautious optimism about this system to a full-fledged supporter.
view from a B-cycle on 21st Ave. S.
I had biked to work on my own bike that morning, and if I took a B-cycle downtown the lack of stations in my neighborhood meant I would have to take the bus home, but I decided to go for it. Biking downtown and then taking a bus home (or vice-versa) is kind of my jam these days anyway. Plus, Kermit Allegra doesn’t mind spending the night in my office and I don’t mind walking to work in the morning when the weather is decent. Win-win.
The Hillsboro Village B-cycle station was pretty full, and only one of the bikes had a flat tire.
Just like bathroom stalls, inspect your B-cycle carefully before use.
I picked a bike that looked OK, adjusted the seat, checked the brakes, threw my snacks in the basket and was off to the Walk/Bike Nashville annual meeting.
It was a really windy, gusty afternoon, but the sun was out and the ride was otherwise uneventful, even though it was right at 5 pm. The bikes are solid, but not too heavy, and once I got used to the way the front basket affected the steering, I didn’t have any trouble at all.
When I got downtown, returning the bike was a breeze.
Here’s how I knew I’d done it right.
My selection of a mode of transport was quite apt because a Nashville B-cycle coordinator spoke at the meeting, and he divulged several intriguing tidbits about the way the program was going so far.
Since its launch in mid-December, Nashville’s B-cycle program has recruited more than 200 annual members and has had more than 2000 24-hour rentals. We have the longest check-out time for bikes in the country—more than 45 minutes on average—perhaps because the most popular station in town is the one at Centennial Park. (The second most popular is the one that I used on 21st and Wedgewood.) We also had the most annual membership signups at a launch event ever, though, which I thought was pretty cool. Oh—and bike share memberships are reciprocal. So if you are a B-cycle member in Nashville, you can rent B-cycles in every city that has a B-cycle program. This is an especially great deal because Nashville’s B-cycle program is the cheapest in the country (yeah!).
Though the system still needs more stations and bikes to be a transportation cyclist’s dream date, I have really been impressed with the launch and implementation so far. Anyone else ridden a B-cycle in Nashville or elsewhere?
Mr. Dottie and I are in Denver this week vacationing and visiting Melissa and Chanh. We’re staying at a B&B downtown and so far we love the area. Today was devoted to B-Cycling. We picked up a couple of bikes a block away and made our way across town to the Platte River Trail, where we biked several miles, stopping for lunch and an excursion to the flagship REI store. We biked about 12 miles total for the day.
B-Cycle is Denver’s bike share system. There are 500 bikes at 51 stations, mostly serving the downtown area.
The bikes are fully outfitted for city riding, with 3-speeds, drum brakes, skirt guards, chain guards, baskets, generator lights, fenders and adjustable quick-release seats. Very comfy.
You swipe your membership card (which we borrowed) and the bike of your choice is released.
After paying a membership fee, using a bike is free for the first 30 minutes, $1 for the hour, and thereafter $4 for every half hour, to encourage short local trips. We managed to spend no more than $4 all day by docking and re-releasing our bikes as often as possible.
And then we were off! The trail is lovely – paved, scenic and well-maintained.
The fall colors here are gorgeous. So beautiful.
We stopped by a cool bike shop/coffee shop, Happy Coffee Co., that had this great mural outside.
Then Mr. Dottie had to infuse the ride with adventure and bomb up this hill with his little B-Cycle. Pretty impressive for a 3-speed city bike. We’ll have to find some real mountain biking later this week.
We loved our adventure on the B-Cycle and are enjoying biking in Denver. The past couple of days have been warm, but it’s supposed to snow up to 10 inches tomorrow!
Imagine my surprise when I visited the main page of the Chicago Tribune this evening and saw the big lead story: City to rent thousands of bicycles. Apparently, city officials just announced plans for a large scale bike-sharing system. Oh yes yes yes!!
Mr. Dottie uses Paris's Velib bike-sharing system
The system is still in the planning stages and a company has not yet been picked to implement it, but it’s expected to start in the summer of 2012, with 3,000 bikes at 300 stations around the city, most 1/4 of a mile apart in the most dense areas. By 2014, the city hopes to add 2,000 more bikes and 200 more stations. The system will pay for itself with membership fees (only $75/year with the first 30 minutes free) and sponsorships, along with federal congestion-relief funding.
I love the messaging going out to explain the system. The article starts thusly:
Transferring from a train to a bus stuck in traffic is often the most frustrating and slowest way to finish a commute, prompting Chicago officials on Wednesday to start the wheels rolling on a new “transit option.”
Discussing how the bike share system will be aimed at all citizens, even those who do not currently ride a bike, the new transportation director, Gabe Klien, says “We view it as a basic form of transportation, but also a fun way to get around.” The article also compares it to the beloved i-Go car-sharing system, which will help regular people understand how a bike-share could be useful to them.
The article’s description of the bikes made me chuckle, because it totally mirrors what’s so great about my Dutch bike.
‘The new bikes will have an upright seating position for riders, a step-through frame to make mounting and dismounting easy, wide tires and a built-in LED-lighting system,’ he said. Other features will include at least three gear speeds, cushioned seats, chain guards to keep lubricant off clothing and fenders above both wheels to prevent water on the pavement from splashing onto the riders.
I am so excited about this and what it means for the future of Chicago as a bike-friendly city. I used to be doubtful of the efficacy of bike-sharing systems, until I visited Paris last year. The Velib system is amazing and, of the huge number of bicyclists on the streets of Paris, at least half of them were riding Velib bicycles. I got the sense that the city was pushed to become more bike-friendly and install new infrastructure as a response to the huge amount of bicyclists resulting from Velib. Could that happen in Chicago? I’m going to say – YES!
Read Trisha’s account of our Velib adventures HERE. Read the whole article at the Chicago Tribune HERE. Highly recommended reading. A+ to the Chicago Tribune: the article relays the facts and avoids manufacturing any awful debates.
Do you think a bike-sharing system can change a city? Would you like to see one where you live?