We were out at Berkeley Spark this weekend to enjoy the festivities and to help promote Bike Seats on the Playa. With so many cool DIY bike seats, bike trailers, and art bicycles, I had to write a blog post to share some of the pictures. Berkeley Spark is a sort of Burning Man pre-party or send-off party held annually at Civic Center Park in Downtown Berkeley. It was a beautiful Bay Area summer afternoon, full of arts and crafts, dancing, food and grog, and most importantly ... lots of bicycles.
There were all sorts of custom rigs at the park, from functional to artistic and everything in between. I included some photos here of the best ones from the afternoon.
I took a trip to Bogota, Colombia last week for a friend's wedding, and knowing how forward-thinking Bogota is with bike-commuting, couldn't help but taking some photos to share my experience. It turns out that Ciclovia, with its roots in Bogota, was the movement that inspired Sunday Streets globally. With Ciclovia, every Sunday and holiday, major streets are shut down to let bicycles and pedestrians to take over the streets. Ciclovia was started in the early '80s, and is most often credited to then Bogota Mayor Hernando Duran Dussan. Due to the popularity of Ciclovia, the local government invested in miles of bicycling infrastructure, ciclorutas, and now Bogota is heralded as one of the best cities in the world for bicyclists and bike commuters.
And of course, even on a rainy day, of which there are many in Bogota, the ciclorutas are still smiling. In Bogota, even the bicyclists get their own traffic signals!
We received a letter and some photos this weekend from one of our customers in the UK and just had to share a couple quotes.
Did you know that Taipei has a bike-share system that's currently free for the first thirty minutes? Bicycle infrastructure is viewed by the federal government in Taiwan as excellent investments in health, and the hundreds of recreational bike paths have helped bike commuting explode throughout the country. It's a great model for the US to consider.
In late 2012, Giant partnered with the Taipei Dept of Transportation to officially launch YouBike, Taipei's bike share program. There are now over 130 locations throughout the city to pick-up or drop-off one of the 5,000 bikes available (all manufactured by Giant of course). And the best part is, it's free to use for the first thirty minutes, with nominal fees for subsequent thirty-minute intervals. Over 10 million bikes were rented in 2013 using YouBike and the numbers keep growing!
According to an Opinion in the Vancouver Sun last week, Giant's Taipei bike sales rose 20% after launching YouBike. Though the bike share service operates at minimal profitability, Giant plans on doubling the number of YouBike bicycles and rental stations by the end of this year. Apparently the investment in the bike share program is worthwhile despite any losses the business itself generates.
If this is working so well for Giant in Taiwan, why aren't they and other bicycle manufacturers investing similarly in bike share program partnerships here in the US? Citi Bike carries the Citibank brand to help subsidize the bike share program in New York City, though few other programs in the US have brand sponsorships or partnerships in place to help subsidize the programs. It seems like a great chance to help boost local bicycle sales, and an opportunity ripe for the picking for bicycle manufacturers that are large enough to be able to afford it.
If nothing else, bike share programs here in the US should consider implementing similar "free for the first thirty minutes" pricing models, as it has shown to be incredibly effective at growing usage and popularity in Taipei.
If only Companion Bike Seat was a larger organization ... we would definitely partner with a bike share program or two, and of course outfit every rental bike with a Companion Bike Seat!
San Francisco CA was named the #1 most bike friendly city in the US in a recently released report by the Alliance for Biking & Walking. Austin TX was second on the list with Long Beach CA coming in third. The ranking was produced based on the number of square miles of bike facilities (bike lanes, multi-use paths, and signed bicycle routes) per city square mile. Here's a list of the top 20 cities in America for bicyclists:
The 2014 Alliance Benchmarking Report summary points out two interesting facts worth calling out:
1. People are healthier in states where more people bike and walk.
This could be correlational rather than causal, but the research shows that states where more people bike and walk have fewer people with diabetes (as a percent of the state population). It's great to see studies published on the positive health benefits of bike commuting.
2. Very little federal spending goes towards bicycling and walking, compared to trips taken and fatality rates.
Despite the fact that 11% of trips taken are by bicycle or on foot and 15% of roadway fatalities involve a bicyclist or pedestrian, only 2% of federal transportation funding goes to bicycling and walking projects. It seems that the lion's share of this is falling on the states themselves to fund. It's great to see that more and more cities are starting to dedicate budget and initiatives to bike facility development (over the next eight years Austin plans to expand its bike facilities by 1,100 miles) but the disparity in federal spending is still massive.
The study also points out that more people bike or walk to work when the city has strong biking and walking advocacy. The more that we support our local, regional, and national advocacy groups and promote bicycling and walking to work, maybe we can ultimately draw more federal transportation dollars to bike and pedestrian facilities, and make all of our cities safer, greener, and healthier!
Check out this video that a customer of ours in Montreal put together and shared with us today! He does a very detailed walk-through of his commuter bike setup, a Surley Disc Trucker coupled with a Companion Bike Seat. He provides some great feedback for us to consider for subsequent design improvements to our bike seats. And he also walks through the installation process required for his Surley Trucker, which needed the quick-release rear axle to be swapped for a solid axle so the pegs could be installed properly. Thanks BikeMontreal, this is awesome!
We went to Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival again this year for weekend 2, and this time we brought two bike seats with us to the show. Traffic getting in and out of the parking lot every night is incredibly difficult, and even with the ease of Uber being readily available, you still end up sitting in a long line of cars. Bikes end up being the perfect way to get to and from the show, that is if you're not camping of course. And there are plenty of places to safely lock your bike against a fence close to the entrance as well. In over three years of riding bikes to Coachella, we've never had a bike stolen.
The weekend was a complete success ... three full days of great music, great weather, great people, and great fun. It even rained a tiny bit on Friday, keeping everything cool, the perfect start to the weekend. Complete sensory overload, with massive art structures all around the grounds, and over 6 stages music playing for at least 12 hours every day (if you get there early enough in the day). There was even a giant spaceman cruising around!
There was an article in The Wall Street Journal last week about Citi Bike, New York City's bike-share program and the financial woes it's facing after it's first full-year after launching. Citi Bike, Needing Millions of Dollars, Looks for Help implies that without raising more revenues from tourists and short-term riders, the program may face being shut-down due to the tens of millions of dollars it lost last year. Interestingly enough the company isn't seeking public money yet to help cover the short-fall. With almost a hundred thousand annual subscribers to the program, it would be interesting to see how much of usage has come from shifting away from other forms of public transportation, namely buses, cabs, and subway. The article points out that most other public transportation systems are publicly subsidized and operate with losses every year - it would also be interesting to see what the average loss per rider is typically and how Citi Bike compares.
In either case, it is great to see that almost a hundred thousand New Yorkers jumped on-board for annual memberships in the first year alone. Let's hope that people in New York and in cities all over the US see it for all the benefits it brings to the city and find a way to make it a permanent fixture across America. Not only do bike-share programs reduce stress on existing mass transit systems, they also reduce traffic and pollution and increase general health and well-being of the community. It's too bad these benefits are much more difficult to put a dollar value against ... losing tens of millions of dollars last year could actually be saving New York just as much money over the long-term!