Austin Bike Share Doesn’t Exist. It Should!

posing in front of the hotel to make sure the delegation knew about the bike system, and then encourage them to try it

[Thanks to Charley Ayres with the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce for the above pic!]

Just got back from Minneapolis as part of a delegation from the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s annual InterCity visit.  One of the most impressive city amenities in Minneapolis is a robust and professionally operated bike share system.  The system is called Nice Bike and you’ll find stations scattered throughout the urban core, located around destinations people need/want to get to.

It was around this time last year, when traveling in Montreal, that I was first introduced to a fully functional bike share system.  That system was called BIXI, but it was the same bike design used in Minneapolis.  The system works insanely well.  You can become a member, or pay-as-you-go.  The three-geared bikes are comfortable and well maintained.

The most important element of these systems a critical mass of stations.  A successful shared bike system is analogous to a network that increases its utility as more nodes are added.  Place the stations in places where people need them.  The more stations the better.

A shared bike system could help solve some “last mile” challenges facing mass-transit.  The productivity of a shared bike system for residents, workers, visitors is potentially leaps and bounds more cost effective than buses for last mile transit.  As such, I believe a shared bike system should be injected into Austin’s mobility planning.

Just as importantly, a shared bike system is a superb recreational amenity for the city.  Imagine how useful this could be for visitors to Austin!  Don’t rent a car.  Rent a bike!  Make it leisurely.

It was fortunate for supporters of this system that so many decision makers were on this trip.  CM Riley, CM Cole, CM Morrison, and Mayor Leffingwell were all in attendance in Minneapolis, and hopefully returned more informed about the potential of a bike share system in Austin.  Below is a map I quickly created that shows general destinations where anyone could pickup or drop off their shared bike.

Rail, rail, rail – why Austin needs more rail!

future of downtown Austin rail?

future of downtown Austin rail?

• Transportation is the most significant challenge facing region
• Lack of mobility is affecting Downtown’s role as cultural & commercial heart of region
• Lack of transportation options affects affordability & social equity
• Automobile dominance impairs ability to create pedestrian-oriented Downtown
• Rail provides opportunity to carry many more people in the same space compared to roads

World class cities are often defined by their rail system.  Austin has an opportunity to pool the economic resources from San Marcos to Round Rock with a rail system.  Companies looking to establish a headquarters look to cities with good mobility for its employees and customers.  Rail is an investment in our city that will provide a return in job growth, less sprawl, and less reliance on cars and foreign oil.

link to City Council presentation from Nov. 6th. [pdf]

MetroRail now set to launch March 30

Capital Metro announced the new launch date on Wednesday after the transportation authority’s board met to evaluate progress. The commuter rail was supposed to begin service this year but construction delays
with two of the line’s stops along with delays on the route’s signal system prompted Capital Metro to push back the launch. [link]

I Heart the Dillo, and You Should, Too.

Austin Dillo

Austin Dillo

Free ‘Dillo service (the trolley-like buses downtown) is getting a make-over.  With a lot of work by the city and cap metro and with heavy input from your representatives at DANA (the Downtown Austin neighborhood Association), the ‘Dillo map has  been simplified into an easy to remember North/South, East/West route with a greater frequency of buses (every 5 minutes during the week) that is expected to make the service more convenient for every day riders and casual users trying to get around town.

If you want this phenomenal service to continue, I recommend using it and using it often.

BTW – my favorite route?  It’s the one that goes from 5th and Red River to Whole Foods back to 5th and Red River.  HOW COOL IS THAT?

You can download or print the new map here:
http://www.capmetro.org/riding/current_schedules/maps/new%20dillo%20m…

If you were a regular user of the service and want to know how your commute
has been impacted, Cap Metro has posted additional information here:
http://capmetroblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/if-you-loved-red-dillo.html