Bike share program

I wonder, what are the chances of a bike share program succeeding in Taipei?

There’s plenty of bikes available locally, it’s the new in thing, lots of MRT stations to serve as local depots, they could use the EasyCard for payment, and Taipei could try to put it’s name alongside Paris, Barcelona, and D.C… Only downsides that I can see is the number of bike retailers who might see this as cutting them off at the knees, and the lack of bike lanes.

[quote=“Washington Post”]Today the city will join the ranks of Paris and Barcelona with the launch of the first high-tech public bike-sharing program in the United States, forcing such cities as San Francisco and Chicago to look here to see chic alternative transportation in action in America.

Transforming Washington into a “world-class city” has turned into a mantra for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), and the avid cyclist will come two wheels closer to that goal this afternoon when he kicks off the program at 14th and U streets NW.

SmartBike DC will rent 120 bikes at 10 self-service racks mostly in the downtown area, including near the Gallery Place, Shaw and Judiciary Square Metrorail stations. A $40 annual fee gets riders a membership card, which allows them to pick up a cherry red three-speed bike. Then it’s time to tool around the city for up to three hours. Those who want to keep going can pick up another bike; there’s no limit on the number of trips.

“It’s really going to be replacing cab rides and car trips for a lot of folks looking to get around the city quickly,” said Jim Sebastian, bicycle and pedestrian program manager for the District’s Department of Transportation. “Plus they won’t have to worry about parking. And it’s fun. It’s a great way to get around the city on a nice day.”

Escalating gas prices and growing civic consciousness about the environment have boosted the popularity of bicycling, making what people once thought of as childhood play a practical and increasingly hip form of urban transportation.

Similar bike-sharing programs have taken off in Europe, most notably in Paris, where “la Vélorution” has swept the capital city in barely a year of existence. Vélib, a hybrid of the French words vélo (bike) and liberté (free), has more than 20,000 bikes available for rent at more than 1,400 rental kiosks.

In the United States, cities including Portland, Ore., and Austin have experimented with more low-tech versions, in which “beater bikes” were painted one color and made available for use. Most were vandalized or stolen after a short time.

Even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is interested in the two-wheeled concept. Visiting Paris last summer to learn about Vélib, the mayor listed rider safety and liability issues among his primary concerns about bringing the program across the Atlantic, but he is still considering a public bike program. [/quote]

[quote=“Jaboney”][quote=“Washington Post”]
In the United States, cities including Portland, Ore., and Austin have experimented with more low-tech versions, in which “beater bikes” were painted one color and made available for use. Most were vandalized or stolen after a short time.[/quote][/quote]

They should have released bears to maul those vandals.

They used to have a "Blue Bike " program in Victoria, BC where you could just take a beater blue bike when you found one and you were supposed to leave it someplace easy to find when you were done. Some non-profit group set it up and it had been going for a few years by the time I left.

I don’t really think this would go over in Taipei.

Not really, the Easycard is anonymous, anyone could just take a bike and get away with it … never returning it …

In Taipei people would go around collecting bikes for their scrap metal value and that would be the end. Nothing civilized can be expected of such a program within the next fifty years I expect.

Theft problems seem to be the issue, whether from the actual user of the bike or by garden variety thieves. I guess the DC system gets around user-theft by making people pay $40 up front and tracking when they check a bike out. Problem is, if it’s a matter of putting up $40 and then possibly having replacement costs for one that gets stolen on my watch, I might would rather just buy my own beater.

Even so, there may be enough of a market to make it worthwhile, and lord knows D.C. (and I’d hazard a guess Taipei also) squanders away far more $$ on projects with less potential, so why not give it a shot.

Taipei’s getting a bike share program

Thanks to Jaboney for posting that link. For those who can’t read Chinese a brief summary follows.

Taipei City officially launching a bike sharing program in March 2009. 500 bicycles with various features. Automatic system with payment by Easy Card or credit card. First half hour free and then NT$10 per 15 minutes. Test of the system at Taipei City Hall starting from January.

I don’t think theft will be much of a problem here. There isn’t much petty crime here (maybe I think this way because I come from South Africa though) and if anyone wanted to steal bikes there are already so many options available…

I presume users will have to use a credit card or something to open an automatic locking device of some kind so that the authorities can keep track of them, otherwise they’ll all be stolen within a week. Guaranteed.

here in Portland they don’t have that anymore. All the bikes are gone…and Portland is a pretty friendly city. Some type of bike rental system would be best…maybe with GPS. I don’t know how feasible that would be though.

There is an article in today’s China Post about the Taipei City bike sharing program.

I’d just like to point out that whoever wrote the story doesn’t understand how the bike sharing system works or perhaps it wasn’t clearly communicated at the press conference. The story focuses on the cost of hiring a bike for one day. Actually the system is designed so people hire the bike for a short time and there is a minimal cost involved. This also ensures a rapid turnover in bicycles and that each station has bikes for hire. e.g. I get off the MRT at Taipei City Hall and hire a bike to ride to Taipei 101 and return it to the hiring station there. It should take less than half an hour so it is free.

It is definitely not designed so someone would hire a bike and then park it all day while they were at work. Nor is it designed for people to ride bikes from home to work. The stations are at major activity centres within the city and designed for moving people between these places.

I really hope that the people in the Taipei City Government understand this otherwise they are going to run into some problems. They need to do a better job communicating and educating people about this.

They need to place them near MRT stations that are 10-20 mins from popular locations for work and shopping. However personally I’m not sure how successful the program will be in Taipei City given that the MRT network is expanding quite rapidly and too many scooters on a lot of main streets here and the lack of small less trafficed streets to navigate through large sections of the city. My idea, make cycleways that follow the overhead MRT lines and expressways somehow, perhaps by occupying a kind of central lane underneath them.

I’m not saying it’s not a good idea, I’m just trying to figure out if it can mesh with the cycleways on the river and the current bike rental system there or should it be totally separate. If separate can it pay for itself?

That makes no sense. You’d want to ride the bike to 101 and then go shopping or up the tower or whatever. Who on earth would simply ride from the MRT to 101 and back? So it wouldn’t be free at all.
They’d need to have drop-off points near these places where people congregate so you can there, ditch the bike and grab a new one when you’re finished.
It’s academic anyway. Even if they get ultra ultra cheap ones they’ll still just get stolen within a few days or weeks, or ridden and just thrown in some bushes or whatever.

Sigh. It’s the China Post. What do you expect? I stopped wasting my time on that paper years ago. Even their free online content isn’t worth the time it takes to read it.

I’m excited about the bike stations. I can start biking between pubs!

Why would anyone want to ride a bicycle in Taipei City? It’s safer to jump from the top of Taipei 101. At least that way you won’t end up a quadriplegic.

jimi, don’t be such a drama queen. get out and ride a bike and you’d be surprised what you can actually get away with.

biking in Taipei is the perfect way to get about, when it’s not pouring. it’s flat, and you can cross the whole city in 30 minutes. hopefully they will have drop off points across the city, at the useful destinations as well as at MRT stops. otherwise a bike share program won’t work.

Granted, Urodacus, but there are far more fatalities from cycling than being a taxi passenger. I’m not dissing cycling, but surely there are better places to do it than Taipei City? Not exactly scenic. It may be more convenient and cheaper, but the risks involved outweigh the benefits.

The fact that people get killed by taxis doesn’t mean that encouraging people to take taxis will reduce roadkill. Cyclists get killed by people in cars. So do pedestrians. And poor people. Anything that reduces the number of cars is better for everyone. Turning the world into a race track for the benefit of the people who can’t think beyond the next five minutes is not a good long-term strategy for anybody.

By your logic, everyone should be encouraged to buy tanks and taxis should be discouraged. After all, people in taxis can get killed by tanks. It’s safer to travel by tank.

Tanks, like taxis, also improve the air quality for everyone too.

Going off-topic here, I was sitting at the lights today watching this old guy shuffle across the road. He didn’t make it all the way across before the lights turned green, and was forced to do this agonised slow-motion dodge as scooters roared to either side of him without any consideration for his welfare. I let him cross in front of me before pulling away, and was rewarded by angry toots from the taxi behind me - although when I say “behind me” it would be an exaggeration to say that he had been actually waiting outside the box that is painted on the road and allegedly reserved for two-wheelers. Oh no, he was a taxi driver and everyone knows that four-wheelers have more rights than two-wheelers, who in turn have more rights than pedestrians.

Cyclists ring their bells at pedestrians to get out of the fucking way. Scooters graze pedestrians and cyclists. Car drivers seem to believe that they own the fucking road. And buses and trucks just drive wherever they please, apparently oblivious to the fact that other people are using the road too. The whole system works on the principle that being bigger and stronger makes you better than the next guy. Aggression is rewarded, consideration and responsibility get you into trouble.

As I told Mad Mike the other day, I don’t really mind the traffic. I go with the flow and don’t worry about it too much, but when you step back and think about the underlying attitudes it’s pretty fucked-up. More cyclists, more cyclists asking to be recognised and given space, can only be a good thing in the long run. Maybe one day this will contribute towards a change in attitudes and old folks will be allowed to cross the road in peace.