[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.
I live in Minneapolis and am coming to Austin for a visit and ran across this post while looking for a bike-sharing program in Austin. Bike-sharing is such an awesome resource especially for visitors, so I’m curious if Austin has moved forward on this at all since I realize this post is a couple years old. Any update to share?
That was great post. Thanks.
Whatever happened to that ‘yellow bike’ project, where you could just pick up a yellow bike wherever you saw one and borrow it.
Jude Galligan says
Yellow Bike is an admirable grassroots effort, but as far as I could tell it didn’t work for the average commuter. I remember those being junk bikes. Many ended up stolen. There was no consistency, no management.
The fully functional bike sharing systems I’ve used are characterized by reliability, predictability, and consistency. They just work.