The Transformative Potential of Bike Sharing

Can a bike-sharing program transform a city? To mark the second anniversary of the Vélib system in Paris, Streetsblog Network member World Streets has a post arguing that it can, if it’s done on a sufficient scale:

velib_station2.jpgOne of the complaints currently being voiced in the UK press about
the new public bike start-up in the city of Bristol is that it is too small, insufficiently visible and generally hard to get at — and that it thus fails to achieve the level of massive use that is necessary if what you want is a city transformation project. Is that what your public bicycle project is supposed to do? Transform your city?

It can, you know. Not all by itself, of course. But if you put it together with a carefully thought-out integrated package of new mobility measures, you can create a powerful component of the transformational process.

The World Streets post includes several links to videos about Vélib, including one from the PBS e2 series on transport that aired last fall (and one from Streetfilms). Good food for thought as New York and other cities in the US and around the world study and implement their own programs.

Another post that caught our eye on the network this morning was Copenhagenize‘s proposal for a "Driving Kills" PSA campaign. It wouldn’t just focus on the toll of crashes, either:

driving_kills_audi_emissions.pngIn Denmark, 4000 people die every year because of the health hazards related to cars — and that’s ten times greater than the number of people actually killed in car accidents. Respiratory illnesses, heart disease, stress-related illnesses caused by noise pollution, etc.

Very few people are aware that the levels of dangerous microparticles from exhaust are actually higher INSIDE the car than if you’re cycling next to it. So let’s focus on this fact and hopefully encourage motorists to think twice about their actions.

Shouldn’t we have rules dictating that all advertisments for automobiles must have clearly visible warning labels? There are a variety of smoking
texts that can be applied to the car health warnings.

Also, Biker Chicks of West Chester has a rant about the way bike shops treat older women — don’t they want more people on bikes? And WashCycle challenges men to help fight the harassment women sometimes face when they go out for a ride.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Theft and Vandalism Just Not a Problem For American Bike-Sharing

|
Even as bike-sharing spreads across the United States, it remains dogged by one persistent doubt. Critics, and even some boosters, fear that the bikes will be routinely stolen and vandalized. It’s time to stop worrying about crime, however. In America’s new bike-sharing systems, there have been essentially no such problems. Fears that public bikes will […]

Help Wanted: Streetswiki Writing Talent

|
Description: As a part of Streetsblog’s impending redesign we are launching a new web site called Streetswiki. Streetswiki is a free, web-based, community-created encyclopedia dedicated to sharing knowledge about sustainable transportation policies, practices and ideas from around the world. Like Wikipedia, its articles will be written and edited by anyone with a bit of unique […]

Bike-Share: Not Just for French Commies

|
In Montreal, theft is “not a major problem” for the bike-share network. Photo: TreeHugger. The Times ran a piece on Vélib’s growing pains this weekend. The story is more thoroughly reported than the hatchet job we saw from the BBC back in February — no claims that bike-share in Paris will flame out quickly this […]

How Paris is Beating Traffic Without Congestion Pricing

|
Biking by the Seine during car-free hours on the Georges Pompidou Expressway. The mayor of a global metropolis, elected to his first term in 2001, set out to reduce driving and promote greener modes of transportation in his city. Congestion pricing turned out to be unfeasible, because influential political forces in the suburbs believed, rightly […]

From London to D.C., Bike-Sharing Is Safer Than Riding Your Own Bike

|
People riding shared public bicycles appear to be involved in fewer traffic crashes and receive fewer injuries than people riding their personal bicycles. In cities from Paris and London to Washington, D.C. and Mexico City, something about riding a shared bicycle appears to make cycling safer. Paris’s Vélib’ is perhaps the most iconic bike-sharing system […]
STREETSBLOG USA

How Do You Grade a Bike-Share System?

|
Bike-share has exploded in the last decade — and in North America, just in the last few years. What started as a shaky concept in Amsterdam in the 1960s has matured into a viable transit option worldwide, with 600 systems offering more than 600,000 bikes. The nonprofit Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) is […]