Bike rental/port authority
So I know there’s been some serious talk about getting a bike rental program going in PGH, which is an excellent idea.
This is probably just a pipe dream, but when a friend of mine posted pictures on FB from his trip to France, and featured their bike rental program with the caption, “Rent a bike instead of buying a bus pass!” I thought, what if Port Authority set up the rental program, and all money from bike rentals went into the company?
I think something of that nature could possibly help pump money into Port Authority, although there’s probably lots of room for error that I may not be seeing.
Bike rental if pretty much the perfect public transit, IMO.
i’m trying to plan our make-up honeymoon, which happens to be to france, and saw the same system. It’s 1 euro per day, and any ride under 30 minutes is free. Rides longer than 30 minutes are charged what I consider very high rates (1 to 3 euros for each additional half hour or something). They really want you to use the bike to go somewhere nearby and return it. Most of my rides are an hour or more, but that’s because I live in Nowhereland.
I’d worry that a bike rental business wouldn’t break even enough to pay for the maintenance required. WAAAAAay back like decades ago I read about a bike share where unimpressive bikes were donated, painted garish yellow, and placed around a city (don’t know which one, instinct says Portland or similar). Idea being nobody would want to steal one, and the second they left it somewhere, someone else could take it.
The two are different concepts, the former a business (goal to make money), the latter a service (goal to help people). The business can help people too, but the money makes it tricky.
I’m not sure if we’ll be able to partake in their services (you know I’ll try), but in another city we’re considering there’s a rickshaw service that we’re also considering. I think the two combined, bike rental (for the able and confident) and rickshaw (for the less able or less confident) could be a pretty darn complete public transit system.
Just not so sure people in pittsburgh would go for it.
The Wikipedia article on the Paris system, Vélib’, says that it’s financed through a deal with an advertising company. The city gives the company exclusive control over its 1,628 city-owned billboards. The company gives them money as well as the bikes, but it seems the high vandalism rates have cut significantly into that.
I agree that PAT should stay far away from this. Also, a tourist-heavy city like Paris is perhaps not the best model for evaluating whether it would work in Pittsburgh.
Honestly, I don’t think a bike rental scheme makes sense for Pittsburgh at this point. See the tourist-heavy comment. I can’t imagine many people renting the bikes. People in this city who aren’t scared by riding in traffic already own bikes and ride them a lot.
@ejwme There was something very similar to the paint-crappy-bikes-yellow thing at University of Toronto, where I went for undergrad.
DC’s bike share appears to be very successful with tourists and locals alike using the system.
I can’t see a rental system really being what converts anyone in Pittsburgh though. Most people who live in areas that make it easy to bike most likely already do so, even if just sporadically.
I think the efforts of BikePGH and other groups to increase walking/biking through infrastructure and culture change is going to do much more positive. I could see a bike sharing scheme potentially dragging the cycling community way down if it failed. Imagine the backlash if suddenly ‘we’ were responsible for lost funding, or suddenly loosed hundreds of only slightly experience cyclists out on the street.
I love the bike sharing concept, absolutely love it. But a lot of pillars need to be in place first.
there’s already some bike rental programs in PGH. triangle bikes on the eliza furnace trace rents them to trail users. and there’s those blue bikes in those lockers on the trails in various places. i think the blue ones are free to use!
As to tourism, I don’t see bikes catering to that starting up by itself.
My sister is bringing 10 people to Pgh in October for a conference, and trying to figure out how to connect Carnegie Museum, Cathedral of Learning, Dave & Andy’s, the Convention Center, some hotel Downtown, and a restaurant in Station Square, and I said it would be ideal for bicycles but hell in a car. (Difficult on a bus, too, without a day pass. At least four fare payments in there, if not six or more.)
But I just don’t see a bunch of suburban middle-aged women jumping on bicycles for a day or two in a strange city without a lot of advance work.
Stu – my dad and little brother came in for our wedding, the hotel shuttle would pickup/dropoff within ~3miles of the hotel anywhere. We used those 3miles to get them to/from most places (it was in Oakland to begin with), or to get them along a route that was easier/less traffic in the car. So for the Aviary, they took the shuttle to Lawrenceville, where I picked them up and continued on. We also used it to get from the museum to the south side, after I biked in to town to meet them. This might work for your sister’s group.
Neither of them could have handled biking – strange city, not so great cycling infrastructure, not so confident on a bike period. Dad couldn’t handle walking, health & heat being what they were. So it worked ok for us.
What if there were a bike share with stations
-on Schenley Plaza
with proximity to CMU, Pitt, Carlow
-near Whole Foods
with proximity to the busway & shopping destinations
-near the Greyhound station
with proximity to downtown, the strip, the convention center
I could imagine tourists, students, and carless people living downtown using these as hubs for groceries & sightseeing. I’d leave the trails to bike rental for now.
My 2 cents
re: “But I just don’t see a bunch of suburban middle-aged women jumping on bicycles for a day or two in a strange city without a lot of advance work.”
“Hi, my names George, and I’ll be showing you around town today”.
dude, am I middle aged? I’d totally follow him around on a bike. bike part is optional.
I’d written more, but realized it’s impolite to verbally drool in public.
I am with Rosie on this. I just don’t see the demand in Pgh. I’ve used the DC system, and while it is nice, it can get pricy. What works about it is that they have stations all over the place. It would be totally possible to pick up a bike at the Zoo, for example, ride a mile and a half or so to the National Cathedral, and drop it there. Then pick up another bike when you are done there, and drop it near your next destination. I don’t think it works if people have to travel more than 8-10 blocks to rent/drop off the bikes. It’s just effective from the perspective of time. (but I’d rent a bike to follow George around. I’d also rent a kayak, motorbike, skateboard or other conveyance to follow George around.)
In seriousness, in my mind, the only place it makes sense to try some kind of Velib type thing is Station Square, that’s where the touristas are anyway. It would be very cool if the Sheraton had bikes for guest use.
Article about bikes at the W Hotel in San Fran: http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/11/coolest-bike-parking-in-san-francisco.html
edmonds – there’s tourists in Oakland (museum, schools, hospitals), and on the North Side (Aviary (only one in the country), hospitals, theaters, Science Center, Andy Warhol) too.
It might make sense to see if the hotels would participate in something, like each hotel have a rack and some bikes. Tourists who stay with family/friends probably have access to transportation options that tourists who stay in hotels might not, and I’m fairly certain most hotels comprise of tourists and business people (who can be tourists too).
The hotels are already in popular areas, often already having their own garages. Have two spots for a rack and bikes (with locks), have a stack of Bike-Pgh maps at the desk, maybe even rental helmets too (though liability could be an issue, but I did it in Tofino and the helmet was included…). Then bikes and tourists are already where they want to be, or very close to it.
While hotel searching in Victoria, BC (for my mandatory annual PNW fix), I came across a chain hotel that has complimentary bike rental. Though there are awesome B&B’s with full “Irish Breakfast” that are the same price or less, we may end up going with the chain hotel just because of the bike rental.
Chances are, while I may be an odd duck in Pgh, there are other people like me out there, who might just come here and want the same thing. A partnership with the hospitality industry just makes sense.
It’s not just for tourists. In fact it’s mostly for residents just trying to combine modes of transportation. I don’t know of a single city it’s been implemented in where it’s been a failure.
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