In the latest Around Town column, learn about the city's new approach to establishing a bike-sharing program, people waiting for the new iPhone and a Paly grad who made his mark at the World Series.
A NEW PATH ... For a city that famously loves bicycles and has recently invested millions in new bikeways, Palo Alto's effort to establish a bike-share program stands out for all the wrong reasons. The city's first try at bike-sharing fizzled in 2015, when the city pulled the plug on a 37-bike program that received very little usage. Undaunted, the city decided to double down (or, if you prefer, go 10X) on bike-sharing in 2016, when it began negotiations with the companies Social Bicycles and Motivate for a 350-bike system, with more stations and GPS technology that would allow users to more easily pick up and drop off their bikes. That too went nowhere. Now, the city is weighing a new strategy: make up a regulatory framework and let the private sector go at it, with little investment from the city. Inspired by similar programs in Seattle and South San Francisco, the Palo Alto City Council will consider the new approach on Nov. 14. Planning staff is recommending that each vendor be required to provide at least 100 bikes, with an overall citywide cap of 700 bikes (electric bikes would be exempted because the city is trying to encourage an "electric bicycle fleet," according to a new report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment). Planners are also recommending that no more than 50 percent of a vendor's "free-floating bicycles" (which do not require racks or corrals) be located in downtown or California Avenue so as to disperse them throughout Palo Alto. The new rules would be implemented under a pilot program that would expire in December 2018 under the staff proposal. "The advantages of this market competition include the potential for faster deployment and more bikes being made available," the report states. "In addition, these companies are competing for ridership, creating an incentive for good customer service, keeping the bikes in good working order, offering competitive prices and making sure the bikes are located where they will generate ridership."
WAITING FOR THE NEW IPHONE ... Gone are the days where everyone wanted a piece of the pie. But even after a decade of iPhones, many are still eager to get a bite of the Apple. Among them is David Eaton, a project manager from San Jose. He was the second person in line outside the downtown Apple Store on University Avenue on Wednesday afternoon awaiting Friday's release of the iPhone X — a new model that boasts facial recognition, a full all-screen display and wireless charging (features available in Android phones two summers ago, though the Apple cult seems unphased by this fact, and ever loyal). "Stores will have the iPhone X available for walk-in customers, who are encouraged to arrive early," the company announced in a press release issued Oct. 24. A seasoned iPhone line veteran, Eaton has waited in line for eight of the 10 versions, and described each time as an experience. He described his plan to camp for two days and two nights in the November cold rather than the usual hit-or-miss September weather as "a new challenge." It seems that Eaton, and many other customers, see this ritual as a strange, social bonding experience. The forced proximity of these lengthy lines brings people together in pursuit of their explicit common goal: some form of material fulfillment. There was a sense of camaraderie between these customers, like war buddies, huddled up in their lawn chairs for the long haul.
GAINS AND LOSSES ... Palo Alto High School graduate Joc Pederson and the Los Angeles Dodgers had a roller coaster of a time in this year's World Series that ended Wednesday night with a 5-1 loss to the Houston Astros. Despite the shortcoming, Pederson had a commendable performance in the tight series, hitting one home run each in games 2, 3 and 6. The outfielder also made strides in the post-season by making an extra-base hit in five consecutive games, a record that was previously made in 1953. The 25-year-old was drafted onto the MLB team right after graduating high school in 2010. His father played for the same team in 1985.