Jul
13

Cities expect bicycle boom

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A 19th Century technology—the bicycle—will sweep American cities thanks in part to 21st Century applications that enable bicycle sharing, transportation officials from two American cities said in Chicago Friday.

“Our preliminary analysis has shown us that bicycling will have the greatest growth, because it’s such a great opportunity for the lowest cost in the shortest time frame,” said Timothy Papandreou, deputy director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Likewise in Chicago:

“I think we can accomplish three times to five times bike loadshare easily,” said Gabe Klein, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, meaning bicycles can carry three to five times as many Chicagoans as they now do.

That will occur thanks in part to an ambitious plan for bike sharing that will be unveiled in Chicago’s forthcoming Bike 2020 Plan.

“The mayor has called for 100 miles of protected bike lanes, and the Bike 2020 plan, which we’re almost done with, calls for over 600 miles of bicycle facilities by 2020,” Klein said. “And I think by 2020 we’ll probably have more than 10,000 bike-share bikes in a thousand stations.”

The two officials spoke Wednesday at a forum at Chicago’s Union League Club hosted by iGo, a non-profit car sharing firm celebrating its tenth anniversary. And the car sharing company also plans to jump on the bicycling bandwagon:

“This is what we want to do,” said iGo CEO Sharon Feigon, displaying a slide of a solar powered charging station for a shared electric car.

“We want to take our solar powered charging station and we want to have the bike sharing occur there, we want to have not just regular bike share bikes, but we’d like to see cargo bikes that people can use for other things and electric bikes. We want to have access to the trains and buses, we want real-time information integrated across media, and also a place to relax and build community and get information.”

Both cities plan to integrate bicycle sharing with other forms of public transit through what Klein called “the digital public way.” They hope to bring various modes of transportation together through mobile applications that people can access on smart phones.

“Our goal is to have an integrated app, which puts the pressure on us to generate the data, collect the data and push the data out to the community,” Papandreou said, ”so that at any given time you’ll be able to say, I’m here, I want to go there, here are my options, here’s how much they cost, here’s how I pay for them.”

In Chicago, Klein expects apps to bridge the gap in those locations where different modes of transportation are a few blocks away—”so when they’re heading down the street, and they’re about to get off the bus, they can see how many rideshare bikes are available at the closest station.”

Buses will perform better if more people get off of them in favor of bikes, especially for short-term trips during rush hours, Papandreou said.

“Car sharing, ride sharing, bike sharing really are the ways you can make a difference in the way your city functions and how it connects with the neighborhoods,” he said.

“It’s a really important piece in terms of how you grow trust in a lifestyle that means not having a car all the time.”

 

Article source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/plus/nsc-cities-expect-bicycle-boom-20120712,0,7781640.story

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