What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

06 February 2012

B-Cycle at the Active Transportation Conference

I finally got to go to a BikeTexas event! Yay! They paid for my ticket, so I took an excused absence from class and had a day in San Antonio last Thursday.

I started my day at the Texas Trails and Active Transportation conference in the same way I start a lot of days: I got on a bus. My coworker that I rode with had agreed to meet me downtown at 6:30 AM so we could drive to San Antonio in time for the first session. Unfortunately, we hit some massive traffic delays even before we got to the San Antonio city limits, so we arrived about 30 minutes later than expected. Also? That's why I don't drive. I'll take a sweaty bike ride any day over road rage.

One of the B-Cycle stations.
So we missed the first keynote speaker, which was a real bummer: It was the CEO of Trek Bicycles, John Burke, and by all accounts his presentation was fabulous. But I had no time to be sad before I dashed off to my first chosen breakout session of the day: San Antonio's B-Cycle, the only bikesharing scheme in Texas. They talked about the difficulties involved in permitting and planning-- since bikesharing is still new, city departments are at a bit of a loss when it comes to issuing permits for installing stations.

It's their successes, though, that are astonishing. First, they've had one-- and only one-- bike go missing in a year. One! And they got it back! They've also had some issues with tagging, but the bikes are painted with graffiti-resistant paint, so it all came right back off. The only major problem they've had was a tire-slashing incident in which an entire station of bicycles was vandalized overnight and thus were unusable the next morning.

As of December, when the system had been in use for nine months:
  • 22,709 total trips
  • 82,740 total miles traveled
  • 3.5 million calories burned
  • 941 annual passes sold
  • 4,336 day passes sold
I'm amazed at this level of success. Of course, it helps that the two top tourist attractions in Texas-- the Alamo and the Riverwalk-- are in San Antonio, but wow. That's a great start. I hope other cities in Texas take note.

Another success: People are buying bikes after using B-cycle. The presenters did downplay this a little bit, pointing to better infrastructure as also helping boost the numbers of cyclists in the city, but they shared a story of a woman who called one day to let them know that she wasn't going to be using her B-cycle card as much. She wanted the main office to know that she loved the program and wasn't walking away from it because she didn't like it, but because she loved it so much she had bought her own bike. There's nothing not to like about that. Additionally, a local bike shop owner spoke up to say that the local bike industry all love B-cycle and don't see them as competition or a threat. Well, no wonder, if B-cycle has turned out to be a gateway to cycling.

One other cool thing they shared: The company has a converted bike trailer that they can use to transport bikes between stations. So they move bikes... by bike. It's brilliant.

So, it looks like my report of one day of the conference will take a few posts. Maybe it's a good thing I wasn't there all three days.


Natalie @ TheFirstKitchen.com said...

That's really cool. Austin should definitely have a bikesharing system.

Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like an excellent program!

I wish there was something like that in this area. (Though I suppose I'd have to learn how to ride a bike to use it myself. :P)

Su said...

@Natalie: I know! I would never take my bike on the bus if there were bikeshare downtown.

@Eagle: Yes, first things first! :) It is pretty cool... I can only hope that it spreads.

Karen M. Peterson said...

That really sounds like a cool program.

I know I've said this before, but I really wish these kinds of transportation options were more feasible where I live. I'd happily give up most of my driving.

Su said...

I wish they were, too! I love having options. A car is nice, but so are other kinds of transportation.

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