electric "bikes" - good or bad?

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I have commuted primarily by bicycle for many years. Since my commute has changed in the past few months I have noticed quite a number of electric "bikes" using bicycle infrastructure - separated paths, signals, bypasses etc. I wanted to rant about it a bit, but I'm also curious about others' opinions.

Recently, my commute has changed from between VGH and downtown to along 10th ave and the Central Valley Greenway. On this route, I've been seeing quite a few electric scooters that are masquerading as bicycles. These are not bicycles with a small motor that helps out - they are big things with full plastic bodies, windshields, cushy seats and vestigial pedals to lend credence to the claim that they are bikes. People are riding these on bike routes, through "no entry except bicycles" intersections and on separated bike paths.

The part that bugs me is that these are not bicycles. I might have purist leanings on this front, but even the law agrees by defining electric assisted bikes as having a motor that doesn't engage beow 3km/h or when the pedals are not turning. Now, I appreciate that these vehicles are preferable to internal combustion (at least in relatively coal-free BC), and that it is safer for the users to operate them not on busy streets. However, I can't ignore the fact that operationally these are really the same as gas scooters but getting around licence and insurance requirements by adding useless pedals and pretending they're bikes.

Am I the only one bothered by this? Is this really an issue worth devoting any thought to, or am I just a grumpy purist who has to get with the times? For reference, an excerpt from the Motor Vehicle Act - S 151: Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation:

(1) A motor assisted cycle must be equipped with a mechanism, separate from the accelerator controller, that (b) prevents the motor from turning on or engaging before the motor assisted cycle attains a speed of 3 km/hr.

(2) The motor of a motor assisted cycle must turn off or disengage if

(a) the operator stops pedaling,

(b) an accelerator controller is released, or

(c) a brake is applied.

You're certainly not the only one bothered by this, and you're absolutely correct in your logic. Your emotional response is totally understandable but I do wonder what the goal is.

Is the intent to move people away from cars into any kind of less impactful transportation? Or are cycling and transit the only alternatives worth considering? Did these pseudo bikes exist when the MVA was written or were they not considered during the drafting? Would it have impacted the act if they did exist?

In my opinion we should be looking at ways of moving people not only from cars onto bikes, but virtually any small engine as an alternative. As a scooter driver (50cc) for a few years I found it tremendously cheap and far better alternative for most trips than a car.

Opening up alternative infrastructure for all kinds of less impactful vehicles could even promote adoption from further out, Richmond, Burnaby, North Vancouver and Coquitlam are all within scooter range, but only Burnaby is within peddle range for all but the most hard core cyclists.

For me I could use a scooter (150 or 50 cc) as an alternative to a car for 90% of my trips. If doing so was safer, in particular when it was rainy or heavy traffic, I'd likely still be doing so. I'll freely admit that I took the bike roads and at times would abuse things like bike traffic lights, although I didn't ever take bike paths.

On that note, does anyone know of a good/reasonable conversion kit to turn my bike into an motor assisted cycle? (as defined above)

From the City's standpoint (not that I'm a City employee), the goal is to get people out of SOVs and onto their feet, bikes and/or public transit.

From what I understand, the biggest barrier to getting more women and children (one of their top targeted audiences) on bikes is percieved safety concerns. Building dedicated bike lanes is a way to alleviate their concerns. Having motorized equipment on dedicated bike routes will increase that concern and may run counter to COV goals.

Personally, I think all motorized thingys (however they are technically defined) should not be permitted on dedicated bike lanes. As for bike ROUTES, those are (and I believe, should be) for everyone.

rant away! :D

"On that note, does anyone know of a good/reasonable conversion kit to
turn my bike into an motor assisted cycle? (as defined above)"

Lots of options at Grin Technologies, which is a local company.
www.ebikes.ca

One should also note that as currently written, people on skateboards,
mobility scooters, etc are on shaky legal ground when they take
advantage of separated bike lanes as my understanding is that they are
not expressly permitted. There is a definite need for greater clarity
regarding what is or is not permitted to use this type of infrastructure. I
personally feel that we should be looking for ways to accommodate folks
on longboards, blades, or what have you, along with getting scooters off
the sidewalks and onto bike lanes. I don't have a problem with electric
bikes, but share the worries expressed above that heavy electric scooters
at 25kmh are problematic.

Thanks for the link CK! I'm actually really surprised at the price, seems like it's
over $1500 to convert to electric. I suppose that's one of the reasons I don't see
many of them around.

I agree with YourMom for the most part, bike routes should be for everyone, and separated lanes for peddle cycles, provided things like vehicle control barriers are
part of the former. It might be interesting to see this more formalized. For me
the goal should be to encourage all "less impactful" transportation options,
including even 50cc scooters (like a yamaha or honda gas powered 4 stroke engines) but I wouldn't want to see those on the separated bike lanes. It might
be useful if they could go down Union/Francis St to get downtown though.

I think the spirit of the MVA is that dedicated lanes are for similar vehicles who travel at same similar speeds and show the same sort of behaviours. I don't think someone with a motorized bike should be singled out for derision unless they are doing something someone with a regular bike shouldn't be doing like travelling 90kph in a bike lane or weaving in and out of other cyclists.

After all, what bugs motorists about cyclists on the road is being stuck behind someone traveling too slowly or erratically. The rule of thumb in that case is the cyclist should act more like a car.

Which brings me the moral: do predictable things and be ready for the consequences if you surprise people with the unpredicted.

"I'm actually really surprised at the price, seems like it's
over $1500 to convert to electric."

I think two important points are that you are getting the expertise Grin has
developed as an early entrant into the market, and their products are carefully
chosen. Secondly, the cost, amortized over the lifespan of the equipment, is
competitive with other transportation options -- ie cheaper than 24 months of
one zone monthly bus passes, with AFAIK, e-bike tech durable enough to offer
multi-year service. I am quite hopeful that e-bikes can really open up two-
wheeled commuting to a huge number of people currently unable to ride a
conventional bike due to distance or fitness issues. My experience reviewing
an e-bike a couple of years ago was very illuminating. I was ready to be
skeptical, but instead found the added power made for a far better riding
experience when moving around town for business meetings, mostly because I
wasn't being offered a towel and water at every stop, as clients no longer had
to deal with my sweaty self when I arrived at their door. If you're a parent
looking to pull a trailer to get kids to school, or have a 20+ km commute,
electric assist is definitely worth a look. (Link goes to original article (pgs 40
-45)

Long time lurker, part time scooter driver.

Can we agree that there are less that the an ideal number of people using alternative modes of transportation (i.e. NOT Single Occupancy Cars)?

If you agree to that, then you should also understand that this fact is a big barrier to getting political support for alternative transportation spending. Not the only barrier, but when our elected officials see 1,000 votes behind one idea (Build new Car bridge) and 10 votes behind another (Build new Bike Lanes) we know what tends to happen.

Given that, what the bikers should be doing is getting as many people to use the bike lanes, routes and infrastructure as possible. It is incredibly short sited to start complaning about "big" scooters or e-bikes on your private bike lanes at this stage of the game. You want us in those lanes. YOU NEED US IN THOSE LANES! The more the better. Prove that there needs to be more.

This does not discount that everyone driving a Car, Bus, Bike, e-bike, scooter, segway need to commute in a responsible mannor at all times. If I'm scootering in a bike lane I shouldn't blow past 10 bikes knocking them all down. That is wrong. But if you want people like me to keep voting for political parties that support bike lanes (and I do) then you need to make a bigger tent, not get yours and bar the door and then wonder why bike lane expansion has stopped.

m2c

Also - Scooter Critical Mass Ride? When can we get that going?

What he said. It's not about bike-only lanes. It's about less car use.

While larger vehicles are potentially more dangerous to smaller ones (eg. cars to scooters, scooters to bikes), how the vehicle is driven has a much bigger effect. And pedestrians lose in the collision with any vehicle. I'm more wary of some of the cyclists who travel at very high speed down 10th, or blow stop signs without slowing down, than I am of your average scooter driver (and many car drivers).

E-bikes should absolutely be allowed to use bike lanes. Scooters possibly, if there was a speed limit for all vehicles in the lane.

To be clear, as a scooter rider I don't use bike lanes in general. From time to time downtown I will utilize one for 1/2 a block to get to a "bike" parking spot.

More often I will cross a busy street on a bike route where you are only allowd to go strait if you are a "bike", or use other "bike only" traffic allowances.

I would hope that if bike people see me doing that safely they would think "Good, another person taking advantage of our progressive transportation ideas" rather than "Piss off non-bike person, these lanes are ours and ours only, get your own Mayor if you have a problem with that".

m2c

While M2C makes some valid points, it wouldn't hurt to have a few scooter
riders take up the cause as well. Parable of the Little Red Hen and all that. A lot
of cyclists have spent thousands of hours building community support, fighting
political battles, and being called everything from fascists to hippies for their
efforts. If you want in the tent, it helps to knock on the door and ask how you
can help improve the campsite (to mangle a metaphor). Also, sorry to say, those
little two stroke machines reek and leave a cloud of blue smoke in their wake. I
don't think it's unrealistic to suggest 'bike' lanes and protected lanes (often
called cycle tracks) should be reserved for zero emission vehicles.

in Amsterdam all two-wheeled contrivances use the bike lanes, routes and paths, not so much full-sized motorbikes. There are even traffic lights in denser areas (similar to downtown here). It seems to work great.

People there are used to it, though so we may need some baby steps here.

Important to note however, that e-bikes, in particular the high-powered off-road
versions (currently Stromers being sold in BC) are becoming a source of worry in
the EU as well. (see link)

Latest on EU licensing and legislation for e-bikes at link below

I would suggest that there are a few scooter drivers out there who also ride bikes and have maybe helped out the cause a bit, but also agree that there is no significant scooter lobby. However, my point again is not that we scooter drivers want to be let into the bike tent for free (no work), but that the bike people should have the vision to want the scooter riders in the tent. More Ultimate = Better. More 2 wheeled vehicles = Better.

To that, here is a question. Why do we have bike lanes? I think this is at the heart of the issue. Vision Vancouver has set a goal of making Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020. Are bike lanes in place just to make bikers feel safe or are they there to help push Vancouver towards it's green objectives. I feel like the latter is the bigger reason, with greening being what it is. The former is a positive effect of the second.

Lastly, as it's related. If anyone wants to set the bike revolution back 10 years, then you should be supporting the "bike rental" program they are attempting to set up in the core. This is a disaster of epic proportions in the making and it's failure and huge waste of tax payers money will give the "cars are the only way to go" crowd the ammo they need to attack all future bike plans.

m2c

Dugly, YourMom, Speedo, I absolutely agree that fewer cars on the road is beneficial, which is what moved me to ask a question instead of simply rant. And of course bike routes are open to all vehicles.

Now before m2c and Merlin inadvertently suggest that I'm suggesting a ban on all motor vehicles, I'm not. I'm not trying to polarize the issue and alienate some road users. I'm also not saying that ebikes are Satan's work. (Also, Merlin, I think that many stop-sign-blowing, light-eschewing cyclists should be publicly shamed - I'm not advocating the view that as long as you're on a bike you're good.)

What I was musing about was the electric "bike" that is really a scooter, and their use of bicycle infrastructure. The line is fuzzy - they occupy some grey area between what is commonly considered a bicycle and what is commonly considered a scooter. Legally, in BC they are not a bicycle. Full stop. They are a limited speed motorcycle that by pretending to be a bike avoids paying insurance and licensing. In other words, they are cheating, and that bothers me. But should they be using traffic controls and surfaces dedicated exclusively to bikes?

Yes, M2C, they are not a car, and that is a good thing. I question your suggestion that all non-cars be allowed to use bike infrastructure. Do cyclists need scooters (gas or electric) and other vehicles to access the dedicated infrastructure to boost usership and justify the infrastructure's existence? I'd say no - what that does is lump everything on two wheels under the same banner except for motorcycles. But where is that line? Already, some scooters have engines bigger than some motorcycles, and technology is likely to eventually make 50cc scooters significantly faster than they are today. And once these vehicles are on the pathways, do you honestly think they are going to allow themselves to be quietly banished to roadways when (if) bicycle ridership increases? And do you really think they will all limit themselves to safe speeds?

The bigger reason not to open up the bike lanes to anything that isn't a car is that a major reason for their installation is to provide a safe route for cyclists who don't feel comfortable riding with traffic - ultimately, it is to help "green Vancouver by encouraging bike use and thus car abandonment. (It also helps delay the requirement for infrastructure expansion.) If they are forced to share the lanes with scooters, that sense of safety diminishes and they are more likely to abandon bikes.

No comment on the bike rental business - haven't given it much thought.

If you are riding a scooter that requires licensing, then the motorcyclists
advocacy group is the right place to look for inclusion. The powered, non-
pedal scooters that Gin-boh takes exception to are existing in a grey area
that, as I've referenced upthread, are probably going to be slowly removed
from the mix, as the big markets for same, such as the EU, legislate in favour
of 'ped-elecs' over scooter-style two-wheeled vehicles, when it comes to
access to bike lanes, cycletracks, etc.

The bike lanes were installed primarily as a safety improvement to encourage
cycling, with ecological benefits. You have that backwards.

The bike share criticism is generalized and dare I say hyperbolic? What are the
specifics that you think are going to endanger future safety and capacity
improvement w/r/t cycling infrastructure?

Those who are against the Visions “Vision” of Vancouver jump on any perceived so called crazy idea they put forward. To date there has never been an issue that has had teeth, you can debate about “backyard chickens” or “growing wheat in gardens” but those are very minor issues that people don’t care about.

Creating a white whale project that wastes significant tax payer money could become a major wedge used to unseat the current administration.

The bike share program has all the earmarks of such a project. The company contracted to do this (Bixi) has a troubled past in terms of success and financial stability, including the need for a Montreal government bailout to the tune of $108M in loans and loan guarantees.

The City of Vancouver is giving this company $1.9M/year for 10 years. I would be happy to see that money go to bike lanes and other bike infrastructure. For that money we are getting a bike share program in the downtown core in a city where bike helmet laws will stifle overall use. Tourists are not going to pack a helmet when coming to Vancouver, and commuters who first need to get to the Core aren’t going to need the bikes in our fairly compact downtown area.

In general, there is nothing I have seen about this program that leads me to believe it’s a good idea. Vancouver currently has bike rental companies and has for decades. These survive as part of larger bike sale or tourist focused ventures. But they don’t get government money. If I’m an owner of such a business I’m more than a little pissed that my Mayor is taking my tax dollars and helping to prop up a business that couldn’t otherwise make it on its own.
The really scary part comes when you start to consider what the costs will be if the program is expanded beyond the core. I can just see that argument. “Sure the program isn’t working now, but it needs to be bigger to survive, so can we have another $4M/year to expand to Kits, Mount Pleasant and East Van?”

Finally, I questions why this is needed at all? Bikes are not expensive. Renting cars makes sense and allows someone to ride a bike/take transit and then access a car when distance or need demands. Rental bikes solves what problem exactly?

M2C

In the interest of dispelling myths, I'll volunteer the time it takes to address
some of your concerns. :-)

The $108m for Montreal is not a bail-out. It is more correctly bridge financing
to allow a local company to continue its expansion into a growing
transportation market that's currently in place in hundreds of cities around the
world, with, it seems, daily announcements of new bike share projects only
reinforcing the fact that these programs are seen as a sensible transportation
alternative for modern cities.

There's much fear mongering in Mr Bateman's editorial, which should be seen
for what it is, a series of talking points to promote minimal gov't... a trend
largely at odds with the Canadian public's real desires for smart gov't
investment in infrastructure that offers more transportation choices, rather
than being limited to just cars or overcrowded buses.

This link offers a different viewpoint:

http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/432331/vancouver-bike-share-bailout-
worries-unfounded-say-city-bixi/

from above link:

"The package that was approved by Montreal city council last year included
$37 million to cover Bixi’s deficit, and another $71 million in loan guarantees.
The city co-signed to increase the company’s credit limit to help them export
the system to other cities, in hopes of decreasing local taxpayers’ subsidies to
Montreal’s public bike share system.

“They are a co-signer on a loan that we have from the National Bank of
Canada, so when he says that we have a bailout of $108 million, it’s totally
false, and you cannot [count] every type of credit facilities like he did,”
Philibert told Metro.

“It’s a loan of $37 million, and now it’s $33, because we pay the city with
interest.”

So, we see the $108m is a business decision by the city of Montreal, and
really has little bearing on Vancouver's program

- The City of Vancouver is giving this company $1.9M/year for 10 years.

This figure is not just cash. It also represents City staff time. I don't think it's
unreasonable of the city to help make bike share a reality in Vancouver and
it's only a small piece of the $54m total that represents the annual capital
budget for transportation in the city. If you are concerned with the City
subsidizing transportation choices I would look no further than the countless
free parking spots in the city, which not only impact the fortunes of private
parking companies, but also take up road space that could be used for the
movement of vehicles.

(part two in next post)

- Vancouver currently has bike rental companies and has for decades.

The bike rental companies are being consulted and the City is working
with them to minimize impacts. With the primary area for bike rentals being
Stanley Park, it's likely that careful placement of bike share stations can help
with this issue, and further, the pricing structure of most bike share systems
is such that the private bike rental businesses offer competitive pricing in the
rental time frames they offer. Montreal's Bixi system would cost roughly $20
for a two-hour rental. In contrast, a two hour rental from Spokes on Denman
street is $16, and for a half-day or daily rental, the private company is much
cheaper. The reality is that there's some overlap, but private rentals and
public bike shares aren't chasing exactly the same customers, with public bike
shares targeted primarily for short trips under a half-hour.

It's a bit of a stretch to say the city is propping up a business. It's more
realistic to view this program as another piece of the transportation network.
My personal observation with Bixi in Montreal (2008) was that it was mostly
locals and many commuters using the service in conjunction with transit, or to
make short trips in the downtown core faster and more convenient, although
smart tourists such as myself planned their sightseeing in such a way as to be
able to take in more local attractions, by linking destinations within the half-
hour initial grace period (daily fee of $7).

- The really scary part comes when you start to consider what the costs will
be if the program is expanded beyond the core.

My understanding is that the program will be expanded within the 10 year
time frame of the capital grant. Also, upon roll-out there is expected to be a
bike share node at UBC as well as the core IIRC.

(omigod, does he ever shut up - stay tuned for part three in the next post)

- Finally, I questions (sic) why this is needed at all? Bikes are not expensive.

The reality is that while many people cycle to work in the city, tens of
thousands more bus or drive. Bike share programs make it easier to move
around the downtown core without having to rely on buses (worth noting
Translink's financial woes are likely to make bus service worse rather than
better) or having to pay to move your car in and out of a parking garage
because you don't have time to get to a destination over lunch or to attend a
meeting that's a short distance away. Cycling is roughly 3 times faster than
walking (say 5kmh vs 15kmh) and a very efficient means of travel through
urban areas.

The bottom line is that bike shares are a great way to reduce pressure on
transit and roads, by offering another transportation option to fill the gaps
where walking would take too long and driving/parking is inconvenient and/or
pricey. Buses put you at the mercy of their schedules, and Skytrain can only
make areas nearby the station easily accessible. So rental bikes solve a very
real transportation issue for modern cities. Which is why, as I say, there are
literally hundreds of them, esp in Europe and Asia. North American society
simply isn't as good (yet) as more advanced cultures (ooh, burn) at
maximizing the utility of public space for the greatest number of people, so
we are a bit behind in this arena, but dozens of cities across the continent
have or are planning to install bike share systems. I note that currently
Toronto, Ottawa, Golden (BC), and Montreal all have these systems, as do
Washington, NYC, Boston, San Diego, Boulder, Miami Beach, Washington, DC,
etc (some of the above are still in the planning stages, but I don't feel like
breaking it all down)

Link below goes to global map of bike share systems.

The biggest concern, and one that I share, is that our mandatory helmet law
will impede the progress of the initiative. Luckily, this can be changed with a
stroke of a pen at the provincial level if we can get a gov't that legislates
using a rational approach, rather than pandering to the reactionary support for
a law that's only been in existence for less than 20 years. It would also bring
BC's regulations in line with most of the rest of the world, particularly those
countries with much higher rates of cycling per capita. Our current helmet law
is unnecessary, un-enforceable, and turns responsible cyclists who choose not
to wear a helmet into law-breakers for no good reason. It is the
transportational equivalent of our drug laws, which have proven an abysmal
failure. Now those same (helmet) rules could be a brake on this bike share
program, which, quel surprise, I think is a heckuva good idea.

Crap, that took the better part of two hours. Once again the CTF's Tea Party-
esque propaganda negatively impacts an average Canadian :-). Now I'll get
started on the work I had planned for this evening before I saw your post.

cheers,

CK

IF it is an either / or question (I'm not sure that it is, budget-line-item-speaking - capital vs programs etc...accountants?), I, too, would rather see more investment in safe and accessible bike infrastructure instead of a bike share program.

A bike share program would likely emerge when the market supports it.

Newbies and novice riders will not use a bike share program in the absence of safe and accessible bike infrastructure. So I think that should be COV's priority.

An additional point to my comments earlier:

Apparently the city is now considering putting bike share stations in
Stanley Park, a departure from earlier promises to work with bike rental
companies near the Park. Not a great idea in my estimation, as the
negative publicity will hurt the program.

With protected lanes running through the core and bike lanes on a
number of streets, I think there is enough safe space downtown to
warrant the program there, and also at UBC

The fear I have here is that the City of Vancouver is getting involved with a company that has not shown any ability to stay in business without funding from local governments. Take away direct and indirect government funding and Bixi would likely be out of business the next day. So what will change with Vancouver or even if they expand to 100 other cities?

This is not a case where you can grow a company to a point of getting huge benifits from economies of scale (Walmart, Amazon, etc...) each City is basically independant of another. A Bike Share program in Calgary will not make Vancouver's more profitable.

To be clear, I'm for bike share programs and alternative transportation infrastructure, just not in a forced situation like this. You make a point that the $1.9/million/year isn't in cash, but that makes no difference to the bike opponents who will scream about this boondoggle down the road. I can already hear the radio ads claiming that "we have flushed $5M of your hard earned tax payer funds down the drain with an illconcieved bike share program. Isn't it time to kick these crazy hippy freaks out of City Hall?"

Keep pushing the bike culture, keep increasing the desire of people to bike around town, but let the free market fill in these areas of the economy. The Government doesn't do it well, and propping up a private venture does not make good sense.

Also - Countless Free Parking Spots???? Not downtown there aren't. Parking spot costs are set by demand, and as you go out to the burbs there are more and more free spots, but also less and less private parkades. If the City of Vancouver suddenly made all downtown metered parking $1.00/day then that would impact private parking garages, but free parking in front of my house at Columbia and 39th doesn't compete with Impark downtown. Also, Impark is not getting money or staff time from the City, and I would also suggest they are paying a lot to the city for property taxes and other fees...

m2c

"Apparently the city is now considering putting bike share stations in
Stanley Park, a departure from earlier promises to work with bike rental
companies near the Park. Not a great idea in my estimation, as the
negative publicity will hurt the program."

Enough said about that point. Problem - The City has "Skin in the game" with Bixi so they are much more likely to listen to their "suggestions" on how to make the business not lose so much money. I suppose that there was a meeting where someone said "If we could cover Stanley Park we could lose less each year".

Water is already getting muddy...

m2c

The other big question, who is going to use this program???

This program has a Monty Pythonesq 6000 lbs weight attached to it with the current helmet law. Program is doing badly in other cities with better weather than Vancouver that also have these laws (Melbourn, Brisbane). Easy to fix at the stroke of a pen...well we agree that the helmet law is counter-intuative to getting more people on bikes and out of cars, so maybe we can hope that this program has the silver lining that it helps to remove that law.

So who is using these bikes? I worked downtown for 10 years and never, EVER needed to take a taxi, bus or bike to a meeting at another building. Not saying that some others wouldn't, but I just don't see the suit crew jumpping on a bike (with their briefcases) and peddling 10 blocks to make a meeting. Anyone using these bikes are likely already alternative commuters, so you are spending tax payer money to hurt a tax supported business (Translink) or a private business (Taxies). The Vancouver Core is small, there are underground walkways in many places and the weater is much more conducive to walking (rain = umbrella, and it's never that cold) than biking (Hey 3-piece suit guy, it's drizzling, how about a bike ride to get you ready for that job interview!)

Young people are more likely to walk 10 blocks (cheaper), the elderly likley don't want to deal with the technology or using a bike (I know, you never forget, but still...)

Tourists? Well, I think there is a market there, proven by the existance of bike rental places now.

So who is making the decision when they wake up in Surrey that they are going to leave the car in the garage, take Skytrain, and then use a rental bike to get to that meeting at a place 10 or 20 blocks from their workplace? And $20 for 2 hours????? I could drive out of my already paid monthly parking spot under my building and street park for my 2 hour meeting for much less than that. I arrive dry, and ready to nail that meeting...

Sorry, I just don't see this reducing any cars coming into the core, or being used much at all by others who already don't contribute to the overall congestion problems.

And the worst part is, a big fail here might help to push out an administration whose ideas I generally support and who I think have been great for the Citiy.

m2c

Some of your criticisms are bang-on M2C. But some show a lack of
understanding of the product and exhibit prejudices about who will use
it.

Fro example: "And $20 for 2 hours????? I could drive out of my
already paid monthly parking spot under my building and street park
for my 2 hour meeting for much less than that."

You've taken an example I've given for a different use, and
extrapolated it to make a point that is basically dead wrong in its
assumptions. Rather than continuing to spread misinformation, why
not visit the Montreal Bixi site, or that of one of the 145-ish other
similar systems currently in operation to get a better sense of the
rates, usage patterns etc... before deciding that your experience 10
years downtown scales out to include everyone and makes for a good
starting point for your un-researched opinions.

Link goes to one example of a velib user in Paris

cheers,

CK

Also, I note that people are regularly taken to task for offering un-
researched opinions in the rules forum. I think the same principle applies
here.

thx

CK

"Montreal's Bixi system would cost roughly $20 for a two-hour rental"

That is your post. Yes, I'm assuming that the cost would be about the same in Vancouver (Another major city in the same country).

How much something costs and the cost of any alternatives has an impact on the use of that item. I won't bother siting research for that statement, maybe just start with "The Weath of Nations" and move on to the next 250 years of economic theory.

My point here is that not only do I think that it's a stretch to think that people who are not bike riders will jump on a bike to peddle 10 blocks to a meeting, but that there is no apparent cost advantage in doing so. I mean, why would anyone do that.

I can't extrapolate my own experiance to everyone downtown, but I strongly suspect that my experiance is fairly typical. Again, why would anyone rent a bike in this situation? I can't think of one good reason a person who is already a SOV driver would go for that option.

What is my "proof"? There isn't currently a successful privatly run bike share program in Vancouver.

I do, however, think that in 10-20 years there would be some private bike rental business, but things need to change further first. For expample, that helmet law should go away BEFORE and not AFTER this starts.

So you have a photo of a guy in a suit riding a bike. How much money does the program make in Paris? How much money does the program get from the government?

You can take me for task all you want for my opinions, but they are my opinions and I will continue to voice them with or without research (although I'm tempted to go downtown and take photos of 100 people in suits not riding bikes....)

m2c

If you had chosen to do even the most cursory familiarization with
public bike shares before deciding they don't work (contrary to the
evidence offered by over a 100 systems currently in operation
worldwide), you would have discovered that every trip under a half-hour
is free once you've paid the $7 daily user fee, or chosen some of the
other options such as the $59 annual membership (current early bird
fee in Montreal). Do you seriously think people won't take advantage
of a system that gives you the equivalent of free self-propelled transit
in the downtown core for slightly more than a dollar a week?

If you had taken that basic step before deciding a CTF editorial told
you all you need to know, you would have understood why the 2 hour
example was for a specific comparison to private rental pricing
structures, as noted in my comment, and why people choose to use
bike share facilities to go short distances.

"You can take me for task all you want for my opinions"

I'm not taking you to task for your opinion. As I noted, you have some
concerns that are shared by many. I'm taking you to task for not using
your considerable intelligence to do a little background research before
forming it, and then building error upon error because of it.

"I will continue to voice them with or without research"

Seriously? Then I expect you'll let people beak off about the rules
without reading them too. Let me know how that works out in terms of
actually providing others with the facts and context to properly
understand a situation. It's your responsibility to at least do some
semblance of due diligence before forming an opinion and hitting
'send', esp. if you are going to question something that is being
adopted worldwide.

I mean really, you're smarter than all the planners and transportation
professionals that are working on these projects? Does that sound
realistic? Clearly, when these systems are gaining traction worldwide,
there's some merit to the concept.

Stop perpetuating bad information and maybe the critics of the
administration you ostensibly support won't have quite so many ill-
informed jackasses to rally when it's time to cast a ballot.

"How much money does the program make in Paris? How much money
does the program get from the government?"

Let me google that for you (link)

"Take away direct and indirect government funding and Bixi would
likely be out of business the next day."

Every form of transportation receives gov't subsidies. None more so
than the private automobile. Public bike shares are an innovative way
to move people, but expecting it to function without the same
assistance every other type of transportation receives is unrealistic.

The big question that you are avoiding M2C, is why would hundreds of
cities around the world have these or be planning them, if they were a
bad idea? Please come up with a rational opinion for this seeming
discrepancy between your belief and the actions taken by countless
people -- who have actually moved beyond a knee-jerk reaction to the
idea, did their homework, and support the proliferation of public bike
share systems? Surely, that's not too much to ask?

Gee, I was always told that just because 10 people jumpped off a bridge, it didn't mean it was a good idea.

The link below is an interesting article about Bixi in Montreal. Please note that I'm not against Bike Share programs as such, I think that if someone wanted to start one on their own that would be great. Go for it.

My problem is how we are going about it. Saying that private automobiles are subsidised by the government misses the point entirely. The point is that IF this Bike Share program fails, or even fails to meet expectations while costing taxpayers a bunch of money, it will be a crutial blow to the current positive path that Vancouver is on RE: Transportation.

From the linked article below or any other that I have seen, nobody can say that Bixi is a well run, stable ship. Maybe it's not quite a sinking ship yet, but it is certainly taking on water and it's future is very muddy. The word Boondoggle keeps coming back to me.

There is risk here, and while there is risk in all decisions, at some point the risk becomes so great that the decision becomes dangerous. I feel that is where the City of Vancouver is now on the Bixi idea.

Overall, maybe spending $3-$4M over the next 2-3 years on this is good for the overall health of the City, but I can't see how this can be spun into a positive in the short term (High costs, low returns - again, in the short term) and if you don't think the opposition won't jump on the expenditure during the next election cycle you have not been paying attention.

m2c

"it will be a crutial blow to the current positive path that Vancouver is on RE:
Transportation."

I very much doubt it. Although I would note that if you consider 2-3 years to
be beyond the realm of the short term, one wonders how any infrastructure
project is good in the 'short term'? Funny how a bridge or the Olympics's
benefits must be measured in decades, but bike share has less than half a
decade to prove its worth? That's silly.

As for the opposition... what opposition? The NPA are, frankly, a joke at this
point, and I don't see COPE as much of a threat to VISION these days either.
Love 'em or hate 'em, VISION have a long way to fall before they need worry
about this bike share idea sinking their ship.

The landscape has changed. I don't think it's possible to leverage the tiny
fraction of bike haters out there into a winning mayoral campaign. This isn't a
mega-city such as Toronto, where long-distance car commuters get to decide
the health of the city's transportation infrastructure (thanks Bicycle Jesus!)