Latest Update on Raleigh Bikeshare Plans for May 2018 Launch

If you can’t see the embedded video, click here. I’m catching up on my city council updates.

During the November 21, 2017 meeting, the city’s Transportation Planning Manager, Eric Lamb, gave us an update on the planned Raleigh and asked the council to approve moving forward with signing a contract with the preferred vendor, Bewegen.

They want to launch the new bike system in May 2018. (which is also bike month)

It looks like a station or two have changed since the last draft including a new station at the Farmer’s Market.

There are still 300 bikes with 30 stations planned. 150 of those bikes will be electric-assist bicycles.

The planned fares are as follows:

All means of making the system equitable have been taken. For example, it will be possible to use cash and the electric-assist bikes should make it easier for those with less physical abilities.

I like the feature where virtual stations can be created where the bike’s GPS is utilized so users can drop off and check out bikes say at the Fairgrounds.

With that, the council approved the motion and things will be moving forward with the system.

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Comments

I’m really interested to see how the competing bikeshares work here in the triangle. Great timing by Limebike and Spin to get into Durham recently.

Personally, I think those dockless bikeshare systems will win out. Just look at Seattle. They had a conventional bikeshare program that failed a few years ago, but then Limebike came in and is much more successful.

One huge benefit is cost. Raleigh is paying millions to get their program off the ground, then will be subsidizing it for years. Meanwhile, Durham is actually getting paid by Limebike and Spin, with those companies taking on all maintenance responsibilities. The benefits of the dockless systems are immense compared to what Raleigh wants to do. And considering Raleigh has been trying to get bikeshare off the ground since 2013 (5 years between the first study and launch?!?!?!?), kind of tells you how much of a waste it is already. For comparison, Durham just started looking at Limebike this summer!

I just drove through Downtown Durham this morning on my way to work, to see all the construction. You can see the Limebikes, and some orange ones as well which I assume are Spin. They are all over Main right now, and people were using them at 7 this morning.

That said, I don’t get how those things aren’t stolen frequently.

To answer my own question on the Limebike:

Each bike comes with a solar panel in the handlebar basket, which powers the electronics that make it a “smart bike.” If you try to steal it, Wilde says a recorded voice will say something like, “Please lock me or we’ll call the police.” An alarm will sound. To make it theft proof, the major parts require specially fitted tools — not your common Allen wrenches.

A generator on the wheel powers a front light, while the rear fender has a reflector.

I split my time between Miami & Raleigh, and Miami has both a subscription bike share and Limebike.
For daily users of bikeshare, I can tell you that the subscription is a MUCH better deal than Limebike for the following reasons: 1.) my $180 annual charge (which is already more than double the proposed charges for Raleigh) is much more economical than a $1 rides if I use 2 rides daily. 2.) static station locations can mostly be relied upon to have bikes when people need them. This allows me to plan rides more effectively and have a general reliability of bike availability. 3.) Formal bikeshare programs include re-balancing of bikes among the stations.

If you want to use bike share as a novelty or a “once in a blue moon” activity, or if you are a NC State student, Limebike will/may make more financial sense. But, you’ll still be hampered by zero assurance that a bike will be where you want it to be to meet your plans. A formal program, like a bus schedule and route, is much more effective in meeting daily lives and travel patterns of the users.

@Brad: Did you watch the video? You make financial assertions that are not supported by what was presented. The capital costs to the city were not millions, it was under $168,000 from the city and $200,000 from the county. The bulk of the money for the capital came from the federal government. The going-forward model puts zero costs onto the city for maintenance and operations, while retaining 80% of profits if there are any.

Dockless is definitely a disruptive technology to watch and follow. Just like Uber and Lyft came in quickly – these dockless systems do provide a transportation solution and should be used in concert with the docked system that will be launching in the spring. Data is a consideration w/ dockless, if no contract is formed w/ the muni than they’re no obligated to share information out. I’d love to simply see bikeshare launched here in Raleigh, and I’m too frustrated by the timeline for implementation. Over time, it will be interesting to see if the dockless systems have sticking power since right now they’re largely subsidized just like uber/lyft via investors pouring in cash (hence the low/no cost model)

IMO, as a power user of bikeshare, dockless systems have their place and that was discussed among the council members in the video link. Essentially, they talk about how the two systems could complement each other by having the dockless system serve areas not supported by the formal system.
Dockless can also inform the formal system on where future stations might be best located.
Personally, I like the assurance of bike availability of a formal system. I also like the fixed cost and unlimited use of a yearly/monthly subscription. $1 a ride really adds up when you use the system all the time. If you were a daily bike commuter to work using a dockless system, and presuming that you could always find a bike where and when you needed it, it would cost you $10 dollars a week. In eight weeks, you’d already match the yearly cost of an unlimited use subscription.

Humm, do I take a bike that places me at the exact location I need to go, get off of it, set the kick stand and forget about the dang thing. Or one where I may need to walk blocks with all my stuff?

Easy day, I’ll take the one I can slide off of and forget about it. You making it too hard. I used city bikes in NY, hated it, PITA taking it to stations and then walking anyway.

Either way, lets see what happens. I don’t think they all can exist here in Raleigh, someone is going down.

When I see dockless bikes, the end of my trip is better than my start. Finding the bike is a hassle and inconsistent.

A docked system, the opposite occurs. I think this the argument for both systems coexisting as the user has a different need, like John said earlier.

Let me also add that a dockless system is even less attractive when I use it to ride out somewhere and need it when I’m ready to ride back to where I came from. I’m looking for that reliability from a dock in this situation.

I like the idea of a combined dock/dockless system. I would volunteer my time & truck to return un-docked bikes to a docked station & I bet I could get volunteers to help on Saturdays to bike them back to a station, for the greater cause.

2 Hurrahs for Eric Lamb, thank you sir for setting up a greater community of cycling!

@Just didgeridoo,
Systems with docking stations have personnel that monitor the location of bikes among their system, learn the patterns of use and implement a plan/routine of rebalancing the bikes among the stations to best suit the needs. Likewise, dockless system operators will corral their bikes and return them to their general home base area. For Raleigh, this means centering the dockless system bikes to the NC State area. For those who might choose to take a dockless bike far beyond the system’s intended service area, this means that it might not be available to you for your return trip. Of course, even if the operator doesn’t pick up the bike, it still might not be where you left it if someone else rents it after you use it.

Why doesn’t Raleigh either create their own dockless system, or strike a deal to rebrand one of these companies in the area.

The best user experience would be for someone to have one “Raleigh Bikeshare” app and that app show both dockless and docked bikes that are available.

Then Raleigh could own data from both platforms, allowing them to expand the docked systems in heavy use areas.

If they don’t do this it will likely be more of a competition for the bike shares and confusing situation for users, ended up in less ridership overall.

Lou, knowing Raleigh government, they’d have to pay thousands to study it and have 3 other cities do it successfully before they consider it. Then wait 4 years and study it again.
Cool idea though, only way I see it even close to happening is if it is incorporated under the GoRaleigh system as a bus/rail/bike transportation network.

@mike – man, you are right on the money. It’s insane how slow the city government gets ANYTHING done in one of the fastest growing cities in the entire country.

Guys we still have a part time city council, I believe. All members have regular jobs including the mayor.

Great article in the WSJ on G-bikes from Google’s Mountain View campus which are free to employees & suppose to stay on campus. They are now installing GPS tracking devices after bikes have been found in Alaska, Mexico, and in the snow in New England. Guess they can afford to lose them.

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