Video: Bikeshare in Raleigh

Bike Share in Raleigh via City of Raleigh on YouTube

Here’s another video from the ongoing Raleigh Urban Design Center’s education forums. This one focuses on bicycle sharing programs with guest speakers from Washington DC and Charlotte.

The video gives you a ton of statistics and experiences from other systems around the country so I highly recommend watching it.

I go back and forth about a bike share program for Raleigh. Are we there yet or are we just thinking about it because it’s the hot new, must-have urban amenity?

I’ll save deeper thoughts for a future post but enjoy the video.

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  1. Bike share is a game changer. For me, it might be the best new transportation concept of the last decade (I guess it’s not really a “new” concept per say, but the technology has been perfected to allow huge systems). It’s pretty incredible the impact it has had in places like Washington, Paris, Montreal, London and Boston. The “last mile” problem of public transit has been vexing planners for basically as long as transit has existed, and I think bike share is one of the best solutions to that problem. When Citi Bike opens in New York City this summer I think it’s going to be absolutely transformative, as there will suddenly be 5,500 new bicycles on the streets of the city.

    How a system will work in Raleigh, which is much more car-oriented with limited transit ridership and a downtown that is smaller and walkable, I am not quite sure. I had hoped to try out the Charlotte bike share last time I was down there, but unfortunately horrible weather prevented that from happening.

    The other thing about these systems is that from a financial standpoint they are pretty great. Capital Bikeshare in DC has a stunning 97% farebox recovery (a typical bus system is around 20% and rail 50%). I am excited to get a chance next week to tour some of the Capital Bikeshare operations facilities as I make my way down to Raleigh for the Triangle Bicycle and Pedestrian Workshop.

  2. I am a huge fan of these services. I have used the one in DC and loved it. The question of would it work here is tough. I would be interested to see what the percentage is of who uses the system in Charlotte, tourists vs residents. Since Raleigh isn’t tourist heavy, that is what brings up the question.

    I think we are a year or two away from really being able to support it but with the density of DT Raleigh picking up, I believe it could work.

    The great thing about the service in DC is that you ride from monument to monument instead of walking, which saves time. The questions is, why does Raleigh need it? What does it bring to the table?

  3. Steve,

    Ralph Buehler and some students at Virginia Tech conducted a study on Capital Bike Share last year that you might find interesting:

    It looks like 66% of Capital Bike Share users are utilizing the bikes for tourism and site seeing purposes. Some more useful places to look to for Raleigh would probably be San Antonio (23 stations, 230 bikes), Omaha (5 stations, 35 bikes), Minneapolis (146 stations, 1,330 bikes), Madison (32 stations, 300 bikes), Kansas City (12 stations, 90 bikes), Denver (52 stations, 520 bikes), Chattanooga (30 stations, 300 bikes) and Austin (40 stations, 400 bikes).

    I think bike share in Raleigh could potentially make a lot of sense connecting places like downtown, NC State, Centennial Campus, Peace College, Five Points, Cameron Village, etc.

  4. The San Antonio system launched in March 2011 with 14 stations and 140 bikes. Jonathan cited last Mays numbers of 23/230. They added 5 more two weeks ago and it now has 35 stations and 350 bikes (even the website can’t keep up), and they recently approved 10 more stations to fill in gaps and will probably be up to 50 by the years end.

    Keep in mind that this 2 year expansion of B-Cycle in what one would think is a bicycle unfriendly place has happened while Hertz on Demand, celebrating its 1 year anniversary this month, has expanded to 23 cars in 12 locations from its debut of 3 cars in 3 locations.

    I would also like to point out that SA might not be the perfect example. It is extremely tourist heavy (there are over 14,000 rooms in DT alone), and parking is usually $10/hour on non-event days which is not very often. Hotel parking is $20-$45 a day NOT including valet and the demographics are a bit different than Raleigh. However, I think that a majority of riders are locals, so that might be a plus for Raleigh. Not all systems will be a success for the same reasons.

    I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of Raleigh yet, but I can see at least a 10 station starter system working just fine here with expansion as soon as it sticks.

  5. Yeah, real estate development here is pretty slow at times. I’m not really sure of the reason. Phase II of the convention center is supposed to go where the amphitheater is, so I think that’s like a 10-20 year time frame we’re talking about. The city is already ‘thinking’ about a new PNC arena for downtown, but that’s also probably more than a decade away, same with the possible Mudcats stadium, if that even happens. I’m not sure what you mean by NCCA BB HOF, there’s a national one in Kansas City, there’s an ACC Museum in Greensboro and Duke and Carolina (I’m not sure about State) already have their own museums/halls of fame. Plus Raleigh has the state sports hall of fame which has a big basketball section. People bring up the idea of an ACC museum all the time, but I don’t see that as a viable development (because of the museums i’ve already mentioned).

    Also, the city isn’t spending any more money on downtown anytime soon, even Meeker said that on his way out.

  6. Steve,
    To pickup on your last point, I think it makes sense for the City to spend money on the corridors coming into downtown: New Bern Ave., Capital Blvd., South Saunders, etc.

  7. I cannot express enough how much I want this to come to Raleigh. I am a monthly subcriber to the system in Miami Beach and use it daily for almost all of my transportation needs in Miami Beach.
    After using a bike share system for two years now, I think it’s important to start a system in a small geography despite the temptation to spread it widely to key locations away from the city center. A good place to start is with the 5 downtown districts. I think we need to map the districts with multi-family housing, restaurants, Hotels, landmarks, parks, amenities, etc. From this mapping, I think it will be easy to identify the locations that will encourage the most use of the system.
    As a second phase, stations can be added to Cameron Village, NC State, Five Points, etc.
    It’s better to create some “jealousy” in some of these key areas so that the residents create demand for expansion.
    The good news for Central Raleigh is that it’s flatter than many other parts of the city and that will make for a quicker adoption of the system.

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