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It's Time to Treat Bike-Share as Mass Transit

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It's Time to Treat Bike-Share as Mass Transit

Old 10-31-13, 07:26 PM
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It's Time to Treat Bike-Share as Mass Transit

article in Atlantic Cities: https://www.theatlanticcities.com/com...-transit/7421/

This is kind of a startling revelation to me and probably others. We tend to think of cycling as opposed to other forms of transit. But I see a lot of bikes on the front of buses... so quite a few people must be looking at it in other ways.

1. Rising travel share. Sure, bicycle travel is a tiny share of overall transport mode a category dominated by the single-occupancy car but it's not such a tiny share compared to traditional forms of transit. In that context, it actually holds up quite well. Wang and Liu analyzed national household travel data at five points in time going back to 1983 and found that bike riding was on the rise in relation to other transit modes, a gap that will no doubt decrease further as bike-share expands:


2. Missed opportunities. At the same time, bike riding in general and bike-share in particular should be complementing transit instead of competing with it. More than half of all Americans live within two miles of the closest transit facility, a very feasible bike ride. But when a bike network exists is isolated from a transit system through lack of parking, for instance, or poor bike-share station placement many potential bike-to-transit trips become car trips out of convenience.
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Old 10-31-13, 10:46 PM
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2. Missed opportunities. At the same time, bike riding in general and bike-share in particular should be complementing transit instead of competing with it.
My past experience is that buses and bikes are in direct competition for those folks who are willing to move about without a cage. Generally, as one expanded ridership the other has seen decreases.

This may be changing, but that hasn't stopped my local bus system from making a point of putting in bus stops that block bike lanes (right of way is available to have the bus stops out of the bike lane, but they prefer to build them such that they block the bike lane but stay out of the travel lane). Their expansion of our so-called bus rapid transit system will have them build two bike/ped bridges over a creek that has a bike path on one side. Of course they didn't consider where those bridges should be if they want to allow for multi-modal transportation, they just put them in seemingly random places. By the way, this city has over twice the number of bike commuters as bus commuters. However, the neighborhood that accounts for a large number of those bike commuters (10% of the city population, 20% bike commuters) also has six times the city average for bus commuters (21% vs. 3.6%).

On the positive change front, BART in the Bay Area is finally allowing bikes to ride at all hours. It's funny how that is coming to pass just as a bike share is being put in place on the peninsula.
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Old 10-31-13, 11:14 PM
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They need to figure out a way to hang more bikes on the bus. Yesterday I took a long bus trip out to a suburb on the other side of town. On three of the four buses I took, both bike racks were full. And this on a 45F degree day with off and on showers. I wasn't using my bike, or I would have been S.O.L.
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Old 11-01-13, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody
They need to figure out a way to hang more bikes on the bus. Yesterday I took a long bus trip out to a suburb on the other side of town. On three of the four buses I took, both bike racks were full. And this on a 45F degree day with off and on showers. I wasn't using my bike, or I would have been S.O.L.
That is an issue in many areas. I have been caught short and had to ride about 14 miles through less than stellar areas due to the bus bike racks being full and it being the last bus of the night. My solution was to get a folder, they can almost always be carried on the bus and put at your feet, especially if they are covered. Brompton leads the pack on compact fold, but they ain't cheap.

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Old 11-02-13, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv
article in Atlantic Cities: https://www.theatlanticcities.com/com...-transit/7421/

This is kind of a startling revelation to me and probably others. We tend to think of cycling as opposed to other forms of transit. But I see a lot of bikes on the front of buses... so quite a few people must be looking at it in other ways.
It's a good article.

The IRS does not want to give out deductions at all if they can help it. A deduction like this could cost the government millions of dollars in lost revenue.

I was thinking a while back of using the Bike Share program (CitiBikes) in Manhattan and skipping the extra train ride. I decided not to and continue to use the subway because its just faster and easier. I like the Bike Share program and hope they continue it. I have a transit credit card that my employer participates where about $100.00 dollars of my pre-tax income is used for public transit. Maybe one day, it can be used to buy a full year subscription for Citibikes. (I'll still use the subway although)
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Old 11-03-13, 12:59 AM
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Originally Posted by gerv
This is kind of a startling revelation to me and probably others. We tend to think of cycling as opposed to other forms of transit. But I see a lot of bikes on the front of buses... so quite a few people must be looking at it in other ways.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "cycling as opposed to other forms of transit".

For me, cycling has often been in combination with other forms of transit ... trains, ferries, cars.

For example ...

When I was growing up, my family would drive to Banff and other places, and stay in a cabin or motel for a week or so, before moving on to the next place. While in each spot, we would hop on our bicycles and cycle off in different directions to see the sights, or we would walk through town or do hikes. That kind of "tour" is now known as a "hub-and-spoke" tour. It is one of our favourite types of tours, and we've done quite a lot of it.

And during the time we've spent in Europe over the years, we've done a combination of cycling, train, ferries, and of course walking. Europe is well set up for that. It is fairy easy and reasonably inexpensive to get on a train with a bicycle and travel several hundred km to another country or another part of a country, and then cycle from there for a while, then hop on the train with the bicycle and go to another area ......

[HR][/HR]

And to second what wahoonc says ... get a folding bike! After our recent travels, we decided that the next bicycles we want to get, to add to our collection, will be folding bicycles. Travelling by train and other public transportation, in Europe, here in Australia, in Taiwan, in Japan, and other places, would be so much easier with a folding bicycle.

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Old 11-03-13, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "cycling as opposed to other forms of transit".

For me, cycling has often been in combination with other forms of transit ... trains, ferries, cars.
Most of my transportation needs can be met by bicycle, as I'm normally traveling in a 5 mile radius of my home. I use public transportation when the weather is really crappy... normally after heavy snows in winter.

But the bicycle -- through bike-sharing or folders or just moving your bike on the front of a bus -- is a spectacular solution for the "last mile" of a trip. Where you aren't on a bus line or you live two miles from a train station.

I'm seeing more of this in Des Moines and I hear it's happening elsewhere.

Long live bike sharing!!
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Old 11-03-13, 12:07 PM
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Yes, public bikes would make it easier to use other forms of transit. Being able to leave bike #1 at the bus stop and pick up bike #2 at the destination stop reduces the need to carry one's private bike on the bike rack of the bus. The problem with public bikes are that people take less responsibility for using them gently and carefully if they're not directly liable for damage, maintenance, repairs, etc. For this reason, I think bike-share programs should offer one price for users willing to perform a certain amount of maintenance and repairs and another price for those who won't. That way, if the costs of maintaining the fleet start rising due to irresponsible use, users who bike responsibly and clean up their own messes don't pay for others' irresponsibility.
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Old 11-03-13, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower
I think bike-share programs should offer one price for users willing to perform a certain amount of maintenance and repairs and another price for those who won't. That way, if the costs of maintaining the fleet start rising due to irresponsible use, users who bike responsibly and clean up their own messes don't pay for others' irresponsibility.
Interesting idea, but how are you going to determine who is an irresponsible user? I say you just pay a team of mechanics to maintain the fleet of bikes. Why are we so afraid of providing jobs for people? When you consider how much is saved by keeping cars off of the road, it's a bargain for the city anyway. Another thing: I'd rather have a professional mechanic working on any bike I'm going to ride and not just any Tom, Dick or Harry.

Last edited by Ekdog; 11-03-13 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 11-03-13, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ekdog
Interesting idea, but how are you going to determine who is an irresponsible user?
Users must report damage when it occurs. If they report it within a certain amount of time after checking out a bike, they prove that it was the previous user who caused it. If it was vandalized between users, the previous user says so and the security video is reviewed.

I say you just pay a team of mechanics to maintain the fleet of bikes. Why are we so afraid of providing jobs for people? When you consider how much is saved by keeping cars off of the road, it's a bargain anyway.
Some people like to work more and spend more to provide more jobs for people to serve them. Some people would rather save money and get more free time instead. If you're one of the latter like I am, you get tired of everyone talking about how great it is to create more jobs with more spending because it makes it that much harder to take time out of the rat race to pursue other goals than making money.

That said, some mechanics will be needed to maintain the fleet generally but I was just pointing out that one of the benefits of having and riding one's own bike is that you don't have to clean up anyone else's mess if you don't let anyone else ride your bike. If you want to translate this form of responsibility to shared bike systems, you need a way to reward people for taking good care of the bike while they're riding it and dealing with problems when they occur instead of leaving them for someone else.

E.g. imagine some user gets a flat and instead of repairing it or at least keeping it inflated until they can park it, the user rides on the rim and damages the wheel. Now, instead of the cost of a tube, you're also dealing with the cost of a worn-out tire and a damaged rim/wheel. If you are a person who fixes a tube immediately to avoid damaging the tire and rim/wheel, why should you pay for the damage caused by someone less responsible? All these costs have to be borne by the user-fees, no?
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Old 11-03-13, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower
Users must report damage when it occurs. If they report it within a certain amount of time after checking out a bike, they prove that it was the previous user who caused it. If it was vandalized between users, the previous user says so and the security video is reviewed.


Some people like to work more and spend more to provide more jobs for people to serve them. Some people would rather save money and get more free time instead. If you're one of the latter like I am, you get tired of everyone talking about how great it is to create more jobs with more spending because it makes it that much harder to take time out of the rat race to pursue other goals than making money.

That said, some mechanics will be needed to maintain the fleet generally but I was just pointing out that one of the benefits of having and riding one's own bike is that you don't have to clean up anyone else's mess if you don't let anyone else ride your bike. If you want to translate this form of responsibility to shared bike systems, you need a way to reward people for taking good care of the bike while they're riding it and dealing with problems when they occur instead of leaving them for someone else.

E.g. imagine some user gets a flat and instead of repairing it or at least keeping it inflated until they can park it, the user rides on the rim and damages the wheel. Now, instead of the cost of a tube, you're also dealing with the cost of a worn-out tire and a damaged rim/wheel. If you are a person who fixes a tube immediately to avoid damaging the tire and rim/wheel, why should you pay for the damage caused by someone less responsible? All these costs have to be borne by the user-fees, no?
--You're going to set up a closed circuit video system throughout the city to keep an eye on riders? That's going to cost some money.

--Regarding paying mechanics to keep the bikes going, that's going to be a drop in the bucket and will actually save the city money because, as I mentioned before, fewer cars being driven means less wear and tear on the streets. I think you're being penny wise and pound foolish.
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Old 11-03-13, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Ekdog
--You're going to set up a closed circuit video system throughout the city to keep an eye on riders? That's going to cost some money.
Just at the racks. When the users have the bikes checked out, it's their own responsibility, no?


--Regarding paying mechanics to keep the bikes going, that's going to be a drop in the bucket and will actually save the city money because, as I mentioned before, fewer cars being driven means less wear and tear on the streets. I think you're being penny wise and pound foolish.
It's easy to blow things off by construing them as small issues relative to something bigger. The fact remains that riding on a flat tire until the tire and rim/wheel are damaged is worse than fixing the tube and saving the tire and rim/wheel. Call it 'pound foolish' if you like but it's as rude to turn in a bike with unnecessary damage for others to fix and pay for as it is to urinate all over a public bathroom or intentionally litter and think, "hey, it gives someone a job to clean up my mess!"
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Old 11-03-13, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower
The fact remains that riding on a flat tire until the tire and rim/wheel are damaged is worse than fixing the tube and saving the tire and rim/wheel. Call it 'pound foolish' if you like but it's as rude to turn in a bike with unnecessary damage for others to fix and pay for as it is to urinate all over a public bathroom or intentionally litter and think, "hey, it gives someone a job to clean up my mess!"
I agree that it would be uncivil to ride one of those bikes on a flat tire, but I haven't noticed that being a big problem here with our bike share program. The stations are so close together that it's an easy matter to just walk the bike to the nearest one and grab another one.

What I mean about being penny wise and pound foolish is that you're not taking into consideration how much a well-run bike sharing system can save a city in terms of wear and tear on the streets. A good team of mechanics, like the one we have here, is a great investment. I also think you'd open your town up to lawsuits if you allowed unqualified people to work on the bikes. What if a faulty repair led to a rider being hurt?

Last edited by Ekdog; 11-03-13 at 03:31 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 11-03-13, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Ekdog
I agree that it would be uncivil to ride one of those bikes on a flat tire, but I haven't noticed that being a big problem here with our bike share program. The stations are so close together that it's a easy matter to just walk the bike to the nearest one and grab another one.

What I mean about being penny wise and pound foolish is that you're not taking into consideration how much a well-run bike sharing system can save a city in terms of wear and tear on the streets. A good team of mechanics, like the one we have here, is a great investment. I also think you'd open your town up to lawsuits if you allowed unqualified people to work on the bikes. What if a faulty repair led to a rider being hurt?
You wouldn't have train passengers disembark to inspect the signals. Airline passengers don't de-ice the wings. Bus riders don't fix the flat tires of the bus. By the logic of the OP article, you also wouldn't have bike share users wrenching the bikes.

As all of us riders know, routine or scheduled maintenance prevents more expensive repairs down the road. Regular inspection and repairs also prevent breakdowns on the road. A bike share will eventually fail if users have negative experiences with the bikes.
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Old 11-03-13, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower
It's easy to blow things off by construing them as small issues relative to something bigger.
But I think it's important to point out that the cost of cycling infrastructure and bike sharing programs is a drop in the bucket when compared to the billions we spend on infrastructure for cars, not to mention what having an obese, sedentary, cager population costs.
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Old 11-03-13, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody
You wouldn't have train passengers disembark to inspect the signals. Airline passengers don't de-ice the wings. Bus riders don't fix the flat tires of the bus...
Of course not, yet the users of bike sharing programs are somehow supposed to be different. Why?
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Old 11-03-13, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Ekdog
I agree that it would be uncivil to ride one of those bikes on a flat tire, but I haven't noticed that being a big problem here with our bike share program. The stations are so close together that it's an easy matter to just walk the bike to the nearest one and grab another one.

What I mean about being penny wise and pound foolish is that you're not taking into consideration how much a well-run bike sharing system can save a city in terms of wear and tear on the streets. A good team of mechanics, like the one we have here, is a great investment. I also think you'd open your town up to lawsuits if you allowed unqualified people to work on the bikes. What if a faulty repair led to a rider being hurt?
All valid points and ultimately it is up to the management of the bike-share company. I just think about it from the perspective of someone who prefers self-reliance when possible and I dislike having to work more to pay extra for things because many people run up costs that get shared in the forms of fees, taxes, etc. You may be right about the road savings paying for the share-bike maintenance costs but that ignores that it would be even better if the costs of both were minimized.

Originally Posted by Roody
You wouldn't have train passengers disembark to inspect the signals. Airline passengers don't de-ice the wings. Bus riders don't fix the flat tires of the bus. By the logic of the OP article, you also wouldn't have bike share users wrenching the bikes.
By the same logic, why should people do their own dishes, even at home? Why should people do anything besides use things as they please and let other people take care of them for pay? Some people want to live like this. They may even think they have a right to live like this. But does that mean everyone has to participate in the economy whose prices and fees require them to support complete dependency?

As all of us riders know, routine or scheduled maintenance prevents more expensive repairs down the road. Regular inspection and repairs also prevent breakdowns on the road. A bike share will eventually fail if users have negative experiences with the bikes.
Bike-share systems are far from ideal. They might be a good complement to other forms of transit but the drawback is that you end up having to pay for what other people do or fail to do.
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Old 11-03-13, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower
All valid points and ultimately it is up to the management of the bike-share company. I just think about it from the perspective of someone who prefers self-reliance when possible and I dislike having to work more to pay extra for things because many people run up costs that get shared in the forms of fees, taxes, etc. You may be right about the road savings paying for the share-bike maintenance costs but that ignores that it would be even better if the costs of both were minimized.


By the same logic, why should people do their own dishes, even at home? Why should people do anything besides use things as they please and let other people take care of them for pay? Some people want to live like this. They may even think they have a right to live like this. But does that mean everyone has to participate in the economy whose prices and fees require them to support complete dependency?


Bike-share systems are far from ideal. They might be a good complement to other forms of transit but the drawback is that you end up having to pay for what other people do or fail to do.
That's certainly one way of looking at it.
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Old 11-03-13, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody
You wouldn't have train passengers disembark to inspect the signals. Airline passengers don't de-ice the wings. Bus riders don't fix the flat tires of the bus. By the logic of the OP article, you also wouldn't have bike share users wrenching the bikes.

As all of us riders know, routine or scheduled maintenance prevents more expensive repairs down the road. Regular inspection and repairs also prevent breakdowns on the road. A bike share will eventually fail if users have negative experiences with the bikes.
An urban bike share system would fail on day one if riders were expected to bring tools and equipment for on the street repairs or fixing flats. The renter's responsibility to repair and fix rental bike scheme is almost as impractical as the recently proposed long-distance bike highways with integrated amenities (including temporary employment) to facilitate long distance travel scheme.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 11-03-13 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 11-04-13, 02:06 AM
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Originally Posted by tandempower
All valid points and ultimately it is up to the management of the bike-share company. I just think about it from the perspective of someone who prefers self-reliance when possible and I dislike having to work more to pay extra for things because many people run up costs that get shared in the forms of fees, taxes, etc. You may be right about the road savings paying for the share-bike maintenance costs but that ignores that it would be even better if the costs of both were minimized.


By the same logic, why should people do their own dishes, even at home? Why should people do anything besides use things as they please and let other people take care of them for pay? Some people want to live like this. They may even think they have a right to live like this. But does that mean everyone has to participate in the economy whose prices and fees require them to support complete dependency?


Bike-share systems are far from ideal. They might be a good complement to other forms of transit but the drawback is that you end up having to pay for what other people do or fail to do.
That's the way civilized society works. There are certain services that we pay for together. I don't like having to pay taxes for large, car-centric infrastructure projects. That's one of the reasons I fight against them and push for more cost effective projects like bike sharing and mass transit. I suggest you do the same in your area.

Last edited by Ekdog; 11-04-13 at 02:18 AM.
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Old 11-04-13, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by tandempower
Yes, public bikes would make it easier to use other forms of transit. Being able to leave bike #1 at the bus stop and pick up bike #2 at the destination stop reduces the need to carry one's private bike on the bike rack of the bus.
People do this in places like Europe and Japan with their own bicycles. The bicycles are usually beaters, but that's OK.
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Old 11-04-13, 04:34 AM
  #22  
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Sadly, because some people don't care if a bicycle is damaged, and some people deliberately damage bicycles, and some people probably don't notice if their bicycles are damaged or not ... and despite security systems etc., Paris, one of the leaders in the bike share system is cutting back dramatically.

https://www.france24.com/en/20130920-...e-system-velib
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Old 11-04-13, 06:50 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Ekdog
That's the way civilized society works. There are certain services that we pay for together. I don't like having to pay taxes for large, car-centric infrastructure projects. That's one of the reasons I fight against them and push for more cost effective projects like bike sharing and mass transit. I suggest you do the same in your area.
Avoid making the "that's just the way things work" argument. It always comes across as provocative. In this case, it provokes the counter-argument that civilized people respect each other's freedom and take individual responsibility. I agree with you about car-centric infrastructure funding. I think such projects should be funded by taxes on sales, fuel, vehicles, tires, etc. according to how much wear is put on the roads. If I buy something shipped by truck, I have some responsibility to pay toward the upkeep of roads; but not as much as someone who buys more or who drives on them more, etc. People often tell me that even if I live car-free, I still buy things shipped by truck, which is true, but it doesn't justify me paying for enough roads for everyone to drive a personal automobile, nevermind all the parking lots and excess land area allotted to driving and parking.
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Old 11-04-13, 06:57 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Machka
People do this in places like Europe and Japan with their own bicycles. The bicycles are usually beaters, but that's OK.
I never thought about that being the reason there are such huge amounts of bikes parked near train stations in Dutch cities but that's probably the reason. That could be one benefit of bike share systems, i.e. reducing the number of bikes parked near transit stations and stops.
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Old 11-04-13, 06:59 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by tandempower
I never thought about that being the reason there are such huge amounts of bikes parked near train stations in Dutch cities but that's probably the reason. That could be one benefit of bike share systems, i.e. reducing the number of bikes parked near transit stations and stops.
That's exactly the reason.


But why would a bike share system reduce the number of bikes parked near transit stations and stops?

Last edited by Machka; 11-04-13 at 07:03 AM.
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