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Archive for the ‘Bike Share’ Category

People walking, bicycling, and driving all share the road in downtown Seattle

This year’s annual conference for the American Planning Association (APA), Sustainable Seattle, was hosted in a city rich with sustainable practices and, appropriately for our interests, complete streets infrastructure.  The APA covers all faces of planning, but complete streets are increasingly a focus of urban (and suburban) planners everywhere. Complete streets that make up walkable, bikeable, and ultimately livable communities, have become the national best practice because they make for sustainable communities, a core tenet and charge of the urban planning profession. The integration of complete streets with retail, mixed-use development, the densification of cities, and sustainable practices were highlighted throughout the conference.

Though LADOT performs much implementation, we are also tasked with planning and project development, which is the area we inhabit in Bicycle Outreach and Planning. Attending the APA conference gives us a broad context for what we do, which can be really helpful in a time where cities are growing at some of the fastest rates ever.  Here are some of our take aways from the conference, followed with a few snapshots of Seattle’s pedestrian-first culture.

Bicycle, bus, and car networks seamlessly weave through the retail-lined Aloha Street

Network connectivity is the nexus of people, land, and local economic vitality

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(One of our Student Professional Workers, Jose Tchopourian, took a trip to the Northeast during his Spring Break from UCLA. In this post he shares his experience getting around by bicycle during his visit to three East Coast cities.)

The Northeastern United States may not be the most popular Spring Break destination for folks trying to avoid winter weather, however I decided to take on the challenge. Over the course of a week, my wife and I explored Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. on two wheels.

Chillin’ in Philly

Our first stop on this journey was Philadelphia. Our home base was the Fishtown neighborhood, located three miles northeast of the Center City and walking distance to cafes, restaurants, and the Girard MFL Subway Station. We explored the city on foot, by bike, and on transit. The compact footprint allowed us to visit multiple neighborhoods, but also destinations such as City HallReding Terminal Market, Barnes FoundationSchuylkill River Trail, South Philadelphia’s scenic architecture, and many more cultural and historic institutions.

Schuylkill River Trail, Philadelphia.

Although temperatures were below freezing, us two Angelenos managed to tough it out by traveling via trains and buses into the Center City and walking and biking between the many attractions. We found that pedestrian-oriented facilities are common around the Central City. Ample sidewalks and crosswalks, benches and trees, street lighting, squares and parks, and river banks create a pleasant walking environment. We found that bike facilities vary and include off-street bike paths along the rivers, on-street facilities such as buffered bike lanes, sharrowed routes, and streets without markings. Philadelphia’s narrow streets in the urban core facilitate transportation on bike and foot due to low motor-vehicles speeds and volumes.

Philly Bike Shop

A hip bike shop in South Philadelphia.

For all these reasons, Philadelphia is in the top-tier of bicycle commuting cities in the nation. Bicycle mode share is 2.3%, compared to 0.6% nationally. Notably, the share of women bicycle commuters is 33%, compared to 24% nationally. With the arrival of a bike share program later this year, the city will most likely maintain its lead and continue growing. (more…)

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Guangzhou residents using their bright orange bikeshare bikes. (Photo courtesy: itdp-china.org)

Here at LADOT we are working closely with Metro and coordinating with Santa Monica and Long Beach to bring bikeshare to Los Angeles County. As we work diligently on launching a regional system, we like to stay up to date about programs in other cities to understand best practices and learn from one another. Time and again, one trend has proven true – Bikeshare is here, there and everywhere and growing exponentially every year.

Nationally, within the last five years, bikeshare systems have boosted multi-modal mobility in large cities like Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, New York, Bay Area, and Seattle. Bikeshare has also emerged as a mid- and small city transportation solution in Des Moines, Aspen, Boulder, San Antonio, and many more.  Internationally, cities all over the world have launched bikeshare systems. As of September 2014, bikeshare programs help transport people in more than 700 cities in 57 countries, with a combined fleet close to 800,000 bicycles worldwide.

Bikeshare has seen upward trending growth in the past few years – in 2013 total program launches rose by 60%. A large part of this growth can be attributed to one country: China leads the world in terms of number of programs, stations, and bicycles by a long shot. The numbers increase daily, but as of September, 170 separate operations were on the ground in Chinese cities. Close seconds include Italy and Spain with 130 programs each. Tied for third were Germany, France, and the United States with roughly 40 cities each. To put that into perspective – while only one out of every six people live in China, three out of four bikeshare bikes, in the world, are located there.

Bicycling is not new to China. Three decades ago, China was referred to as the “Kingdom of Bicycles” due to the majority of the vast population who used bicycles for transportation. However, bicycle use has significantly declined over the past 20 years. Consistent with trends in “emerging markets“, China has shifted towards the automobile in recent years. One step China has taken to combat the declining numbers of people using bicycles for transportation and address transit connectivity was to launch public bikeshare programs countrywide. This shift has reignited the country’s passion for bicycling and helps to hinder the growing reliance on owning and utilizing automobiles. (more…)

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Santa Monica’s bikeshare pilot features SoBi “smart bike” technology.

The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a city staff report on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 for the purchase, installation, and operation of a 500-bicycle bikeshare system. The City of Santa Monica will contract with CycleHop to bring a bikeshare network of up to 75 stations to Santa Monica by Summer 2015, in plenty of time for the debut of Expo Line Phase II. The bikeshare network will provide a crucial “first/last mile” solution between Santa Monica residents and Metro’s light rail system.

Santa Monica residents got a sneak peek of a pilot bikshare station outside Santa Monica City Hall. Passersby were able to test ride the green “smart bikes”, manufactured by Social Bicycles (SoBi). The bikes feature 8-speeds for climbing inclines, real-time GPS, and a payment system located directly on the rear fender of the bicycle.

The fourth generation “smart bikes” come with a u-lock.

Santa Monica hopes to create unique identification for the bikeshare system, keeping the bicycles and stations free of any corporate branding. Design preferences also include the incorporation of the color green to denote sustainability as well as the Metro logo. With countywide bikeshare efforts already in motion, Santa Monica staff wants to keep options open for local expression within a regional system.

The Los Angeles County regional system is being coordinated by Metro and is expected to launch in the Cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena in 2016 with plans for future expansion. Residents, employees, and those who travel through Downtown Los Angeles will have the ability to use the bikes to make short trips. The regional bikeshare system will also provide a crucial first/last mile solution for those traveling along the Metro Rail system from Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach, Pasadena, and Santa Monica.  Staff will present the findings and recommendations of the Regional Bikeshare Implementation Plan to the Metro Board in January.

The Santa Monica Council will also meet in January to further review recommended designs and suggested station locations. Until then, staff will move forward with contract negotiations with CycleHop, while also securing sponsorships, finalizing options for the proposed rate and membership structure, and sorting out the associated parking ordinances.

Locals were excited to test out the bikes!

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A photo from Bike Nation’s Anaheim launch

We’d like to extend a warm virtual welcome to the newest bicycle-oriented blog in Los Angeles – the Bike Nation Blog. Look to Bike Nation’s new blog for all the latest Bike Nation related announcements and planned community events. The site has a lot of useful information including a guide to the Bike Nation bicycle, a step-by-step overview of how to rent a bike from a kiosk, archived news articles, and a calendar for planned community events. An exciting new feature that will launch in the coming days will allow users to recommend their ideal locations for bike share stations, similar to what was done for the Citi Bike bike share system in New York City. Bike Nation’s planned expansion into Los Angeles will consist of 400 kiosks with 6,500 docking stations, and 10,000 bicycles, making it the second largest system in the country. Look for Bike Nation (and a number of other Los Angeles bicycle related links) under our Resources tab.

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