Editorial: Bike-sharing plan readied | August 10, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - August 10, 2012

Editorial: Bike-sharing plan readied

Innovative pilot program will allow Caltrain commuters biking option

A transportation grant designed to provide 100 bikes for Palo Alto-bound Caltrain commuters unfortunately got tangled in a discussion at the Architectural and Review Board (ARB) last week, delaying approval of the sites selected for the automated stations where bikes could be checked out and returned as part of a pilot program.

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Posted by can't wait, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2012 at 11:39 am

They've been talking about this program for years. Can't wait for it to get started. Gas prices are so high and parking is so terrible that residents really want options. Bike share will help commuters quickly and easily get the last mile or two from public transit to work.

I just hope that 100 bikes is enough for everyone. If the system is unreliable because there aren't enough bikes to go around, many people will give up on it pretty quickly.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

If the aim is to get residents to use the bikes to get to the Caltrain stations, then we need to have stations in the residential neighborhoods. Having all of them in downtown is not going to get someone like me to use them. However, if all the local neighborhood parks had a station, I might find it very useful to walk to my nearby park and rent one to the station, then rent one back. Alternatively, I might choose to rent one to go downtown, or to the library.

However, if they charge too much, then this will not be cheaper for me than buying my own bike and paying to maintain it.

Likewise, if this is for commuters who want to alight in Palo Alto and rent a bike to get to their place of work, then we need to put stations in office parks also.

Questions. Is there going to be a bike station at the JCC? Is the system going to interact with the Mountain View system so that Palo Alto residents can get to Castro Street or the VTA light rail? Is it going to be useful for Foothill College students?

These are the type of options that need to be discussed and will get riders aware of choices.

Posted by can't wait, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm

In other cities, these systems are primarily intended for people getting off trains and buses and then using the bikes to get the last couple of miles to work. A few stations around business centers and transit centers can serve a lot of people this way.

Here's a good video about how bike share works in China (where bike share systems have tens of thousands of bicycles): Web Link

People starting from suburban homes (as opposed to high-density apartment buildings) can usually more easily use their own bikes instead of traveling to a rental station to borrow one. But if the primary service (commuters) is overwhelmingly successful, building future stations in suburban areas is certainly worth considering.

Posted by Bogus-Thinking-Begets-Bogus-Thinking, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Why bicycles? Why not Segway machines?

Web Link

These would get people where they want to go about the same time as bicycles, with more dignity.

There already is a problem downtown with cyclists riding on the sidewalk. With people now being "encouraged" to cycle, it's only a matter of time before they are using the sidewalks, rather than the streets. University is only one lane, making it likely to even become more clogged.

This is another crazy idea.

Posted by Donna Maurillo, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

The Mineta Transportation Institute has an excellent research report, published in June, about the details of bike sharing in North America. It makes interesting reading for anyone who wants to know how these programs work and the challenges and successes they've faced.

Download the free report from:
Web Link

Donna Maurillo
Director, Communications and ITT
Mineta Transportation Institute
San Jose CA

Posted by Keith Medoc, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

Right, Segways are the answer! Because bicycles are sooooo undignified.

Look at all these barbarians in Copenhagen pedaling their dignity away:

Web Link

Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

Segways? dignified? Paul Blart Mall Cop?

Bikes are cheap. Segways are not.

Posted by Janet, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

To Bogus-Thinking-Begets-Bogus-Thinking: I ride my bike down University Avenue all the time and never clog traffic since it never moves faster than 15mph. Even when I stop to turn left there's plenty of room for cars to get around me, unlike when left-turning cars block traffic and only bikes have room to get around. Most of the time University Avenue is so clogged with cars the bikes are the only ones that can make any speedy progress.

Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

Last Tuesday, Rafael Rius, who is the Staff Liaison to the PA Bicycle Advisory Committee, presented this item to PABAC. He pointed out that the bike share stations near the train station are placed to service riders from Stanford's bike share stations who are coming downtown for lunch, etc. Unfortunately, this wasn't made sufficiently clear to the ARB members who criticized them for being too close to the train... In light of also serving riders from Stanford, their locations make more sense.

Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

I should add that the pilot phase is really geared towards commuters coming off the train, not local residents who can usually keep a bike at home, and who would be difficult to serve effectively, especially in a limited pilot. Targeting inbound commuters makes sense because they roughly double PA's population. Rafael agreed that having stations around offices would be good, and he showed us a map with such station locations for later program expansion. In the short term, those locations are difficult to get, because they are on private property.

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