Comment 95351

By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2013 at 09:35:25

Here are my comments about the proposed Social Bike system. I have already commented on the design of the bike itself in a post above, so here I'll talk about the bike share.

Although I have extensive experience using the BIXI bike system in Toronto, and have also used the Montreal and Paris systems, the Social Bike is new to me. So here goes:

THE GOOD THINGS
1. This has the potential to transform Hamilton. Paris was changed for the better by their bike share program. This change included a radical transformation in cycle mode share and cyclist demographics. When its implementation is completed, New York shows signs of going the same way.

2. I am intrigued by the "leave it anywhere" concept. This has the potential to make the bike extremely convenient. A major (probably the #1) part of the success of the Velib (Paris) system is the high density of bike share stations, with a station every 200-300 metres. With proper rebalancing,"Leave it anywhere" has the potential to put bikes outside every destination and residence.

THE BAD THINGS

Hamilton has a bad track record of incompetent implementation of good ideas that render them useless. The poster child for this is the design engineering incompetence and negligence that makes dangerously unsafe the new Red Bridge over the QEW. So here goes:

1. Not enough bikes. Bike share is "go big or go home." 650 bikes in a city of 1/2 million people is a formula for failure. Paris is a success with one bike per 97 people. Hamilton will be a failure with one bike per 770 people. Only 65 stations means that there will be inadequate station coverage, and quite a hike to get to a bike.

Velib is a success because bike share is a fast, easy and convenient way to get from A to B. Hamilton's implementation is guaranteed to be a failure because the inadequate number of bikes prevents getting a bike from being easy and convenient.

2. Inadequate political support. Hamilton City Council is kicking in a whopping total of zero dollars. After, of course, taxing car-free people to spend hundreds of millions on car infrastructure.

OVERALL CONCLUSION:
The proposed Social Bikes program has the potential to transform Hamilton for the better by increasing bike transportation mode share and broadening cycle demographics. But this potential will never be achieved with only 650 bikes. That is only one bike per 770 people. They will be so thinly scattered throughout the city that it will be impossible to ensure convenient access to a bike for travelling from A to B for destinations in Hamilton.

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