Comment 95357

By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:24:33

Kevin wrote:

I have extensive experience using the BIXI bike system in Toronto, and have also used the Montreal and Paris systems

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

Some points of clarification and to expand upon what you have said. First of all, there are numerous bike share systems worldwide in cities smaller than Toronto, Montreal and Paris, at a suitably smaller scale for the bike share system. The best example with the most in common with Hamilton is the twin cities of Minneapolis / St Paul with a total population in their urban centres of about 600,000. Their "Nice Ride" bike share system opened in 2010 with 65 stations and 700 bikes. As you suggest, station coverage is key to success for a bike share system. The 65 stations were initially all located in the central Minneapolis area, omitting St Paul altogether and other outlying suburbs. Their operating revenue in 2010, including station sponsorships but excluding a $50,000 operating grant, was $$592,424.00. And this was with an abbreviated operating season beginning in June!

In the years since, Nice Ride has expanded its system primarily through grant monies and title sponsorships, however it continues to turn a profit operationally. See the report linked here: https://www.niceridemn.org/_asset/fy64tk...

The moral of the story is that smaller systems can and do work. The key is being strategic in station location selection and prioritizing areas of the city where demographics, employment and population density, cycling infrastructure and other statistics lend themselves to the greatest uptake of bike share use. It does mean that large parts of the city will likely not receive service in the initial stages. Better to lay a solid foundation than to over-reach in the early days and fall on its face.

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