Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Trial of Trip-Based Fares

A goal of publicly owned bike-share systems is to provide safe, cheap, and widespread transit for its citizens and visitors. While annual memberships offer this for frequent customers, the 24-hour membership that many systems have does this poorly for infrequent and would-be customers. To improve upon this, the Washington, D.C. region’s Capital Bikeshare has embarked upon a new pilot fare – the $2 “Single Trip”.
Unlike the common duration-based bike-share fare types, lasting anywhere between 24 hours and 1 year, the trip-based fare type is more transit-oriented as it’s focused on the lowest common denominator – the trip itself – rather than a time period. The Single Trip fare’s $2 cost gives a customer up to 30 minutes of ride time with greater usage fees for longer trips. Capital Bikeshare’s Single Trip fare is one of the least expensive fare options of the “buffet model” of pricing in North America that was discussed here on The Bike-sharing Blog on September 14, 2014. The D.C. region joins Pittsburgh’s Healthy Ride with their similarly priced “Pay As You Go” fare.

Offering a trip-based fare in an established duration-based fare structure creates great risk. The risk is that revenues would drastically drop as customers who were formerly paying for a higher priced 24-hour membership, instead decide to purchase a trip-based pass at a quarter of the price. Less revenue would hurt a system’s cost recovery and make the system more reliant on other revenue sources, such as public subsidy or more advertising, if these options were available. To many public and non-profit systems, they are not.

The other possible outcome is that the trip-based fare would induce more trips by those for whom a 24-hour membership cost were too high, but who would pay the cheaper $2 fare which is comparable to the price of other modes of transit.

It’s unknown at this point which way the wheels will turn on trip-based versus duration-based revenues, however things are looking good. Over the past year new and established systems in North America have been inching towards lower-cost trip-based fares, such as with Montreal’s “One Way” pass for $2.95 CAD ($2.28 USD) and Philadelphia’s “Walk-up” and Minneapolis/St. Paul’s “Single Rides” passes – both for $4. There is also the “Pay As You Go“ fares of Social Bicycles that are charged by the minute -- another good solution.

Whatever name the pass goes by, the trip-based fare will hopefully increase bike-share trips, generate greater revenue, lower the financial barrier for people who need just one or two trips rather than 24 hours of trips, and make riding a bike a legitimate 2-wheeled transit option in a country where bike-riding for transport is not commonplace. Further, it could make bike-share resemble the more common fare structure of other modes of transit by removing the membership aspect and pricing it similarly to bus, streetcar, and rail.

At an historic time in the Washington, D.C. region where the country’s 2nd most highly used subway system has begun a nearly year-long maintenance surge of single-tracking and station closures for weeks at a time starting today, Capital Bikeshare’s Single Trip fare will hopefully provide an economical and convenient transport option for the thousands of commuters who are looking for another mode in which they can rely upon for the next year and beyond. If Capital Bikeshare and other innovative bike-share systems are successful with the trip-based fare, it could be a new model for bike-share systems to emulate.

MetroBike, LLC is affiliated with Capital Bikeshare.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Bike -sharing World -The Last week of April 2016

North America

Over 71,000,000 trips on public bikes in the U.S.A. since 2008

In the last few months there have been a few good and interesting reports about the state of Public Use Bicycling in the United States. These reports have been widely circulated by various media. We at The Bike-sharing Blog welcome all research and reports that further the public use bicycle industry. We assiduously read them all. The most positive report was Bikesharing and Bicycle Safety written by Elliot Martin, Adam Cohen, Jan Botha, and Susan Shaheen for the Minetta Transportation Institute. Their research showed that there had been no fatalities involving public use bicycles as of January 2016 and that public bikes are statically safer than trips on private bikes.

Since I do a lot of research for this blog, I was curious to know just how many public use bicycle trips there have been in USA. The first public program of substantial size was the SmartBike D.C. system in Washington, D.C. which started with 120 bikes and 10 stations in August 2008. Using that as the starting point. I polled individual programs, accessed open data and queried vendors with the question, "Since the launch of your program or system, how many trips have been taken through December 31, 2015." With a 98% response rate, the total is 71,382,780. That is a lot of bicycle trips with no fatalities and an extremely good safety record.

Over 32,000 bikes in the public use bicycle fleet are put in over 3,400 stations throughout 105 Municipalities in the U.S.A.

In early April, the United States Department of Transportation issued a report on the connectivity of Bike-share Stations in the United States. Unfortunately, when first issued, 40 municipalities and 1,000 stations were missing from the totals. By the diligence of this blog and city program operators, it has now been corrected. It is great that the U.S. Department of Transportation understands the importance of public use bicycle programs and how they fit in the greater transportation needs of the United States.

The count of bicycles, stations, and cities comes from The Bike-sharing World Map. These numbers are for programs that are only open to the general public and that are automated and station-based. In the case of a university-owned program, it is only counted if there are stations off-campus and completely available to the general public. Bike libraries and manned programs and corporate and university campuses that are not open to the general public are not surveyed for this count. 

image: ZYP Bikeshare,  Hudson Bikeshare

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap   

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Need for Innovation

Bike-share has successfully made its way into the transport landscape around much of the world. Now that nearly 1,000 systems have been established globally, the proof of concept was the easy part and the hard part is just beginning – broadening the service to people who don’t ride a bike and who are a majority of the population.

Bike-share competes against other modes of transport that can be more convenient and easy, like the private automobile, taxis, and ride-hailing services. A cold bike seat is a long way from the heated seat of some cars, so bike-share also must become more convenient and easy in order to attract new and keep existing customers. Innovation is key and it’s impressive to see what some visionary bike-share services, operators, and vendors are doing towards this goal.

JCDecaux, operator of Paris’s Vélib’, is showing two great examples of innovation. They’re experimenting with both a pedelec (pedal electric) system, called e-vls, and bikes with automatic gear change. The pedelec bikes likely will require that one lease a specially designed battery to insert into the bike (as shown below). According to JCDecaux the batteries can cover up to 10 km (6 mi) at a maximum speed of 25 km/h (16 mph). On top of that, e-vls thankfully won't increase the bike weight for those that aren't using the pedelec feature.

Pedelec bike-share bikes aren’t the evolution of bike-sharing, but rather a complementary service for those wanting a little extra assistance to get to their workplace, home, event, etc. without sweating or tiring themselves. It will surely bring new demographics of people into bike-share that wouldn’t have considered using it previously as well as make the bikes more useful to existing customers. A complementary pedelec bike-share feature will help shorten the distance between origin and destination that for some would otherwise be too far, too hilly, or too strenuous to do it without electric assistance. Pedelecs are one more reason now to take bike-share and one less reason to not take a car.

According to my Bike-sharing Blog and Bike-sharing World Map co-author, Russell Meddin, "There are approximately 70 cities that have partial or full pedelec systems totaling about 9,400 pedelecs in public use service world-wide. Most notably there is Jincheng, China with 3,000 pedelecs; Madrid with 2,000; Milan with 1,000; Barcelona with 400; Sendai, Japan with 300; and Birmingham, USA with 100." The number of municipalities and quantity of pedelec bikes surely will continue to grow.
JCDecaux's Automatix automatic gear change trial is likely from SRAM's Automatix and it has the bike shifting gears based on the rider's speed, rather than the rider needing to know when to change gears to get the most efficient pedaling. This innovation keeps cycling simple for the majority of people.

Fare types that better match the needs of the public is another innovation that is sorely needed. As discussed on The Bike-sharing Blog previously, bike-share needs fares that better match those of other transit systems. Let people pay for making one trip, rather than asking them to pay for a whole day of unlimited use. Very few systems charge a per minute or per trip fee, but thankfully they exist, like Montreal Bixi’s One Way Access and some Social Bicycles' systems. It's important that single trips are less expensive than the cost of riding a bus.

Integration with other transit modes is sorely needed to make bike-share easy to switch to or from rail and bus. Let me use my regional transit smartcard on bike-share, like Bordeaux innovated with Vcub. As many people now don’t leave home without their smartphone, let folks use their phone to check-out a bike instead of needing to also bring a fob or smartcard. London allows customers to pay by phone through their smartphone app and issues a PIN for the customer to release a bike. BCycle and RideScout are innovating to allow one to use a smartphone or Apple watch to both pay and unlock a bike.

The evolution of bike-share is turning it from bike rental into a full-blown regional transit system that is one of the big transport players. The bike-share industry needs to continue innovating to bring more customers, especially people who don’t bike, and would certainly not consider themselves a cyclist, into the fold and create more people simply who feel comfortable and safe on a bike. Two-wheel transit won’t reach its potential if it’s more bike than transit. It must be transit first and foremost that is on two wheels.

Now let’s push bike-share where it needs to go over the next decade with more amenities and by making it easier and more fun to use. The opportunity is enormous for bike-share to have an even greater impact on cities, on peoples’ health, and on the environment than it presently does.

image credits:
Santander Cycles

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Bike-sharing World - Year End Data 2015

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap                                                 

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Bike-sharing World the Last Week of December 2015

The World:

As 2015 comes to an end, it is time to think about recapping the numbers for this year's achievements in public use bicycle cities around the world.

This animation shows the growth of the public use programs in the world since 1993 through 2015 and beyond. As this year closes, there have been around 120 new cities so far that have started bike-share systems. China leads the way with around 60 new cities, while the USA saw around 20 new cities join this movement.

Blue: New City - Grey: Terminated - Yellow: Planned
Using the data from The Bike-sharing World Map, a comprehensive look at 2015 will available on this blog in early January 2016.

Currently, there are around 980 cities that have automated, 3rd generation, information technology bicycle programs that allow 'A' to 'B' pick-up and drop-off. The total number of public use bicycles in operation throughout these cities is around 1,258,500. New this year is the inclusion of  'Pedelecs', electrical assist pedal bicycles, which comprises around 9,300 bicycles of this total. This subset has been growing extensively in the last year and will only continue to do so into 2016.

Liangzhuzhen, Hangzhou, China new Smart GPS Bicycle



After years of utilizing fairly low grade bicycles in public services, many Chinese cities are finally upgrading them. The Hangzhou GST Development Company, the research and development arm of the Hangzhou Public Bicycle Program, has created a GPS enabled "smart bike" as part of the IBSplus system to be first deployed in Laingzhu, a town near Hangzhou.

The same company is also creating a single access and payment card called "ibicycle", which can be used to access all of the 147 services throughout China that utilize their equipment, according to the Kim Tong News Agency. Additionally, The Hangzhou GST Development Company is developing a mobile phone application they have named "icycle", which can be used to access, pay, and map the bicycle usage.

The other major Chinese company, Changzhou Wing Eversafe Public Bicycle Systems, has already issued a single access card to 44 of the 150 cities that use its equipment including the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk on the Chinese border.


Jincheng, China Pedelecs
This month Jincheng, Shanxi added 3,000  
Pedelecs to its current 5,000 pedal bicycle service, making it the first and largest deployment of pedelecs not only in China, but in the world. Jincheng joins Barcelona and Milan with mixed pedal and pedelec bicycles in their fleets. With only a few days in operation, it is not known if the new pedelecs are being used as much as in these two other cities.                                                                                                                  

North America:
ZYP Bikeshare
Directions on how to use ZYP
Speaking of mixed Pedelec and pedal services, ZYP Bikeshare has brought solar-powered electric assist bicycles to the deep South of the United States. Since its debut in October, around 2,800 members have ZYP'ed around town, making the service's name a verb to describe the experience. 

Around 25% of the current fleet of 300 bikes in 30 stations are pedelecs, which help the residents and visitors conquer the hills surrounding the Central Business District (CBD). This spring the service will grow to 100 pedelecs and 300 8-speed pedal bikes in 40 totally solar stations. All the bikes are 'smart GPS-enabled' and the illuminated kiosk can dispense a rechargeable card for those who are only occasional users. As with many services, the bikes can be accessed using a mobile phone application. 

ZYP'ing around the Birmingham's CBD is now "no sweat" with a little pedal assist!
images: IBSplus Bike, Jincheng Pedelec, ZYP Bikeshare

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap                                                 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Happy 10th Anniversary, MetroBike!

MetroBike is pleased to be celebrating our 10th anniversary this month.

After many years of publishing academic articles on bike-sharing while working on my master’s degree with the hope of someone else bringing bike-share to the shores of the U.S., I became impatient with the wait and knew I had to be the change I wished to see. So in November 2005, I left the safety of a municipal job with benefits to found MetroBike in order to foster bike-sharing’s introduction. MetroBike was the U.S.’s first bike-share consultancy. My parents thought I was crazy. Looking back, I guess I was.

With MetroBike I’ve had the opportunity to assist in founding Capital Bikeshare in the Washington, D.C. region where we serve in a managerial and planning role for two of the system’s municipal owners, having sited 132 of the service’s stations. I’ve enjoyed returning to Copenhagen – the city where I first learned about bike-sharing in 1995 – to help the region modernize the former coin-operated system that helped the world see what bike-share could be on a large-scale. There have been many other non-profit, for-profit, academic, and local and federal government clients over the years. Also, I’ve doubled the size of MetroBike from one to two people – a 100% increase!

While MetroBike isn’t a Fortune 500 company, it’s nice that a small business can help change the world. Thank you to MetroBike’s past and present clients and the folks who have believed in me to bring this crazy little idea of bike-share into their pocket of the world. Thanks also to the readers of The Bike-sharing Blog and The Bike-sharing World Map. It’s wonderful to be able to do something that I love in making bikes available to all for a cleaner and healthier planet. We’re looking forward to the next 10 successful years.


Paul DeMaio
Founder and Principal
MetroBike, LLC
Washington, D.C., USA

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Bike-sharing World - Early Fall 2015

North America

        Chicago Conferences
Swiss Designed Velobility SwissFleet Pedelec
The Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC) and the North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA) joint conference had two very interesting Public Use Bicycling (PUB) products on display, both making their North American debut: The Velobility pedelec and the Blaze Safety Laserlight.

Velobility, a Swiss producer of bike systems in service in Europe and the Middle East, showed its new SwissFleet pedelec. One of the most intriguing aspects of this bicycle is it has multiple methods for re-charging its electrical-assist motor. Not only could it be recharged at its conventional powered docking station, but also using a soon-to-be adopted universal EnergyBus connector made for all electric vehicle rechargers which are planned to be widely available in many cities. This could be a game changer. This bike improves upon Velobility's RIDEBOX which the Blog wrote about previously. This feature has an electronic self-contained locking mechanism, the electric-assist motor, battery, and all the electronics. There is an on-bike user keypad interface with RFID, NFC, and smartphone connections for easy operation. More importantly, it's a nice riding bike for PUB service!

The Blaze Laserlight on a London Santander Cycle

The bright spot of the new products was definitely the Blaze Laserlight fitted on a PBSC Urban Solutions bicycle. After a year long process, the developers of Blaze working with Transport for London (TfL) and their operator, SERCO, adapted this safety laser light for use on 250 Santander Cycles in London as a trial. The laser light projects an image of a bicycle on the street 6 meters in front of the bicycle while it is in motion and at night. This makes both pedestrians, other cyclists, and motor vehicles take note of the oncoming cycle hire bicycle. All PUB systems should consider incorporating this device in their fleets.

Here is a video of the Blaze Laserlight:

Stay tuned for more updates, including a report on the recent launch of North America's first municipal pedelec program. Plus a sneak peek of the end of the year data from The Bike-sharing World Map.

If you didn't have a chance to make it to the Chicago Conference mentioned above, there is another event of great interest taking place next month at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA.

A Global Summit Investigating Sustainable Mobility Futures: November 11 -13, 2015 and The Disrupting Mobility Hackathon: November 6 -8, 2015

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Bike-sharing World - Last Week of August 2015

North America
                      Fargo, North Dakota
Great Rides - Photo from the City of Fargo
The small Great Rides B-cycle program accomplished an amazing feat for a North American program this week. According to KRWK, with a mere 101 bikes in 11 stations, the program managed 1,850 rides in one day! 

One metric used to determine the success of a program is how many times, on average, each bike is used in one day. The term for this is 'trips per bike per day' or (TPBPD).
The highest TPBPD CitiBike in New York City claimed is around 11. The occidental world record has been held by DublinBikes in Dublin, Ireland which reported around 15 TPBPD. We won't talk about China, because there are a few cities that have consistently broken out of the teens with their TPBPD. 

Great Rides in Fargo North Dakota has a 18.5 TPBPD! Congratulations! 

Now to be fair, about a third of the Great Ride stations are on the campus of North Dakota State University. All students are eligible to enroll in the program at no charge. There is no fee for the first 30 minutes of each ride on campus or off. This greatly contributes to the program's success. Yes, it is a great ride!

September in Chicago

Move Together: National Shared Mobility Summit

Registration is now open! The 2015 Shared Mobility Summit Move Together will bring transportation and policy leaders from across the country to Chicago on September 28-30, 2015. This is a conference on Shared-Use Mobility and the annual meeting of the North American Bikeshare Association.

If you are interested in starting a Public Use Bicycle program or making one better, consider signing up for Move Together.

Russell Meddin

Keep in touch with The Bike-sharing World with The Bike-sharing World Map. It is the premiere resource for information on cities with Public Use Bicycle programs and the complement to The Bike-sharing Blog. Use this easy web address for viewing the map:  

Follow the Map on Twitter@BikesharingMap

Monday, July 20, 2015

International Bike-share Database

Hey bike-share system owners and operators, this post is for you!

It is said that something doesn’t matter unless it is counted. According to The Bike-sharing World Map, there are nearly 900 bike-share systems worldwide, yet how are the systems performing globally and how is your local system doing? How many trips are being made? How many people have used the service? How many kilometers or miles have the bikes been ridden?

Some bike-share systems make their anonymized ridership data publicly available either as large database files or through a more user-friendly “dashboard” as the Washington, D.C. Department of Transportation has done for Capital Bikeshare (image below). Many rail and bus transit systems have been doing this for much longer than bike-share systems. Now it's time for bike-share to step it up and do an even better job of reporting to show the contributions the industry is making and prove we are here for the long-term, rather than just being a decade-long fad. There is a grace period for infant systems, but as systems mature into adulthood, we need to be doing the same info sharing that other transit systems are providing. In fact, we should do better.

To document this data, the North American Bike-share Association and its members have created the International Bike-share Database to collect and share important information about bike-share services in a user-friendly format for the benefit of its members and the general public. The Database has the goal of being the prime source for bike-share data for comparative purposes for those within the industry, for academic purposes to foster research in the nascent field, and anyone else who cares. Data about participating bike-share systems is provided with its latest fiscal year information, monthly trip and estimated distances, and a glossary of terms to assist the industry develop its vocabulary.

It's rare that a totally new form of transit comes into existence and since bike-share has done so, it needs to follow best practices in the greater transit industry and develop its own best practices within its subset of the transit industry. This is an opportunity to use some of the best practices that pre-existed bike-share and develop specific ones that apply only to us. Most of the folks I know who have come to this industry are coming with a bike background, rather than transit background. This is bringing in lots of new thinking into how to develop the industry. Having an industry-wide resource, such as The International Bike-share Database, is necessary. The Database is similar to the National Transit Database which is for U.S. transit systems, but does not include bike-share... yet.

The Database is starting off small, but will grow as the number of systems in North America grows and evolves. The International Bike-share Database can be found at .