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Capital Bikeshare needs more bike lanes to work in MoCo

Capital Bikeshare will expand into Montgomery County next year, but bicycling advocates say the infrastructure isn't ready for it. If the county's serious about making bikeshare work, they need to make bicycling safe and comfortable as soon as the first bikes are out.

Rendering of bike lanes on Second Avenue by Dan Reed.

This week, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and MoBike recommended that almost 20 miles of bike paths should be built inside the Beltway before bikeshare opens.

Bicycling has become more popular as a form of transportation in Montgomery County in recent years, but there are very few bike lanes, and the county's wide, busy roads deter all except the most fearless cyclists. As a result, bikeshare users might be tempted to ride on the sidewalk, which could be dangerous for pedestrians.

Proposed Montgomery County bike lanes. Blue represents bike lanes and separated paths, while orange represents sharrows. Click for interactive version.

In this report, the two groups suggest a network of bike lanes in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Bethesda and Friendship Heights. They proposed having dedicated bike lanes on major roads like Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring and business district streets like Arlington Road in Bethesda.

Streets that were too narrow or too congested for bike lanes, like Elm Street in Bethesda, would get sharrows, which help drivers and cyclists share the road.

They also asked the county to complete major regional trails, like the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which currently stops half a mile short of its proposed terminus at the Silver Spring Metro station.

The proposed lanes make a lot of sense, focusing on compact downcounty neighborhoods where everything's already within biking distance. I've written before that more on-street bike routes can make bicycling more practical as a form of transportation by bringing riders to shops, jobs and other activities. And bikes take up a lot less space than cars, meaning we can fit more bicyclists on a congested street than we can drivers.

Some of the proposed routes, like Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road, may face resistance from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration, which have been reluctant to take away space from cars. But WABA and MoBike weren't the first to propose bike lanes for them: earlier this year, County Councilmember Nancy Floreen asked that the state paint lanes on several major roads that they're scheduled to repave anyway next year.

Creating a countywide bicycling network will take a lot of time and planning, but there are things we can do to improve the biking experience sooner rather than later. As more people take up bicycling, they may find that they don't have safe places to ride. As a result, Capital Bikeshare could help build a constituency for bike lanes that doesn't exist now.

Capital Bikeshare is ready to expand into Montgomery County. The question is whether our streets will be ready for Capital Bikeshare.

Dan Reed is an urban planner at Nelson\Nygaard. He writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. All opinions are his own. 


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It less a matter of whether the streets are ready, than whether the users of those streets are ready. Road design is very important, but as long as users focus mostly on themselves, traffic safety will remain miserable, especially for those not surrounded by a steel cage.

by Jasper on Dec 14, 2012 1:45 pm • linkreport

Even as it develops, downtown Silver Spring is in danger of being stuck in the 20th century. As walkable as it is relative to the rest of the county, it still has massive 6 lane roads going right through the downtown area.

It is absurd that some will argue that there is no room for bike lanes on Colesville, East-West, or Georgia, while at the same time, downtown D.C. is successfully implementing protected bike lanes on much smaller thoroughfares such as L and M.

by engrish_major on Dec 14, 2012 2:26 pm • linkreport

"The newer requests will be placed on a waiting list and included for consideration as future candidate projects under the FY15-20 Facility Planning-Transportation." is what the spokeswoman e-mailed to the Patch.

This seems to me to mean: we will put these ideas on a waiting list of ideas that we will put on the list of ideas we will plan to think about in FY15-20.


by Miriam on Dec 14, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

MCDOT does not seem to be the most progressive agency around for transportation when you look at other recent decisions such as the article about the cross walk, or lack there of in Clarksburg, or the discussion that instead of adding bike lanes on Arlington Rd they are actually studying adding another vehicle lane. For this reason, I don't see anything changing anytime soon. It is also worth noting however that the requested infrastructure improvements are on a mix of both County and State roads, which may further complicate things.

by Gull on Dec 14, 2012 2:41 pm • linkreport

Montgomery County often points to its efforts to build trails, like the CCT, to show it is serious about bicycling infrastructure. And these major trails are important.

But the Montgomery County DOT has consistently failed to pay attention to the many smaller street projects that can make a big difference. I was on the citizens advisory committee for the North Silver Spring Master Plan in 1999-2000, and was pleased to see many local streets be designated as important cycling routes. That Master Plan, together with the Silver Spring CBD Master Plan approved in the same period, defined a good network of roads in Silver Spring that should receive bike lanes or other features to make them more bike friendly going forward.

But those recommendations have been almost completely ignored by MCDOT. I've seen streets like Cameron Street and Spring Street be repaved and/or restripped since the Master Plans were approved, and they have consideration for bicycling facilities of any kind be included in the work, even though it would have been very easy to do so at very little cost in the normal course of the work.

MCDOT can do good work on bicycle infrastructure if it is a high priority project. But the car culture still prevails there, and cyclist and peds are often overlooked for more ordinary, lower profile projects.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Dec 14, 2012 2:44 pm • linkreport


That's an important point (and one I failed to mention!) There are streets like Spring Street that are wider than they need to be. And MCDOT recognized this - they built bulbouts at Spring Street and First Avenue last year that narrowed it from two lanes in each direction to one. There's plenty of room for a bike lane there, had MCDOT simply laid down some stripes when they last worked on it.

by dan reed! on Dec 14, 2012 3:01 pm • linkreport

Wayne is spot on. They don't even take care of the facilities they already have. This morning as I crossed the road in Bethesda between the different parts of the CCT, I hit a nasty pothole that damaged my bike. The CCT/GBT is the only bike-safe route between Silver Spring and Bethesda, but has poor signage and a history of poor maintainance. The CCT is not cleared of snow in the winter, and bike trails are used as dumping grounds for snow. etc etc.

by SJE on Dec 14, 2012 3:13 pm • linkreport

"This week, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and MoBike recommended that almost 20 miles of bike paths should be built inside the Beltway before bikeshare opens"

I completely disagree with this assertion.

I live in Montgomery County and have been a car free transportational cyclist for many years; after several years of in-County bike commuting I am currently working in the District.  Having taken over 1,000 bikeshare trips I feel quite familiar with both environments.

Separated cycling infrastructure is nice to have, but one of the best ways to improve on-road safety is to increase the numbers of bikes in circulation: as the proportion goes up drivers adjust to a mixed-mode environment and the roads become safer for all - this has been the case in the District over the past few years.  Bikeshare as "biking for the rest of us" is the best way to bring about such an increase cycling.

The County's DoT talks the talk on bicycling, but the reason they don't walk the walk is that for the most part they just don't Get It about bikes.  Holding off on bikeshare until the DoT gets enough of a clue to plan, fund and implement infrastructure just doesn't make sense, while at the same time a bikeshare-induced surge in cycling will certainly help them acquire that clue.  Doing both, in parallel and as quickly as possible, is really the best way to go.

by beg to disagree on Dec 14, 2012 4:53 pm • linkreport

So long as it is designed and executed properly, this is work fine. Hopefully this brings out more awareness for bicycles. But cyclists need to adhere to traffic laws as much as pedestrians and motorists. A lot of sites like offer a lot of info that helped me.

by willout on Dec 14, 2012 4:58 pm • linkreport

@beg to disagree:

You get no argument on this from me. We should go ahead with bikeshare and not wait until MCDOT gets a clue.

I do expect that bikeshare will have some impact to call attention to the need for common sense improvements in our street designs - i.e. "complete streets." But I also expect that bikeshare will not have the immediate initial success in Silver Spring like that seen in D.C., because the infrastructure is lagging behind. We may need to subsidize bikeshare more heavily at first, until the infrastructure can catch up.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Dec 14, 2012 6:49 pm • linkreport


It will be interesting to see whether infrastructure has any effect on bikeshare adoption out here in MoCo.  Regional momentum matters: we have a large subscriber base that's already using 'em downtown, providing a nice set of built-in early adopters and plenty of opportunity for first+last mile trips connecting to/from rail, bus and subway. 

That the County is joining the bikeshare system at all is somewhat of a minor miracle, as the DoT and Park & Planning prevailing view of cycling is as a recreational activity that occurs on trails in parks (to which one drives with a bike on a rack attached to one's automobile).  I have high hopes that bikeshare can facilitate the necessary clue-getting. 

One reason why I tend to discount the upfront need for separated cycle infrastructure is that I seldom use it in the District, simply because there isn't much of it along my typical routes - maybe 10-12% or so of those 1,000+ trips have made use of bike lanes.  In Silver Spring and Takoma Park I'm expecting topography to be much more of an issue: some of those stream valleys will be a real [expletive] to climb out of on those sturdy-but-heavy red bikes. 

I'm very much looking forward to seeing how this comes out.  It can't start soon enough for me.

by beg to agree with you on Dec 14, 2012 10:19 pm • linkreport

It seems to me that MCDOT has not looked around at downtown Silver Spring in a number of years. Those big 6-lane roads are meant to get people thru SS, not TO it. Yet much has been done and spent in the past decade to make SS a destination - to live, work, shop, and dine. But as long as those in transportation see the city as a place to pass through, and not stop at, facilities for short trips will fall by the wayside.

by 7rider on Dec 15, 2012 8:21 am • linkreport

Just to point out something, and I realize that "anecodotal" observation is not systematic and can be criticized accordingly... I rarely see bikeshare users riding in bike lanes.

That's the function of a couple things. Mostly bike lanes appear to be are designed for "long stretches" or are on roads that aren't convenient to bikeshare type bikes or the kinds of trips that the bike lanes serve.

The real issue is that DC is designed in a grid roadway system and that network of streets, with or without bike lanes, provides a wide variety of alternatives with less traffic as well as multiple routes to get to places.

But there is no question that beginning to develop a separated bikeway infrastructure is key to making biking as transportation more appealing to those demographics that express willingness to bike, but aren't willing to do so in high traffic, high traffic speed situations.

Bethesda and Silver Spring are decent places to have bike share stations, although the grid there isn't as conducive as it could be by comparison to Alexandria.

Frankly, the issues about use are more significant than the presence of bike lanes. Bikeshare is intended, at least in Europe, to complement transit, and for commuters. It doesn't appear to be used that way all that much in DC. It's more used by in-city residents + tourists. I don't see how bikeshare will be used as transportation all that much in Bethesda, as there aren't a lot of residents there, and many of the buildings are within walking distance of Bethesda Row or the Metro anyway and it's not clear that providing bikeshare to get to destinations beyond those places can be accommodated by adding stations on the outskirts.

Silver Spring has some tough issues too. South of Colesville Road, the tracks force most mobility westward to either East West Highway or Colesville Road. Maybe people west of the Metro station want bike access to get to the Ellsworth Ave. area more quickly. But it's pretty expensive to provide enough bikes to accommodate them, plus is it a worthy use of transportation money.

In either case, the likelihood of commuters coming into the stations and then using bike share is minimal.

by Richard Layman on Dec 15, 2012 10:40 am • linkreport

interesting comment on Bethesda Richard. It will be interesting to see how Cabi usage patterns develop in the Rosslyn Ballston corridor in Arlington, which in many ways is more like Bethesda (but with lots of bike lanes and off road trails) than it is like DC or Alexandria.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 15, 2012 10:56 am • linkreport

Really hope they do this along Second Ave in Silver Spring. The road is too wide, and various commuter buses just use one lane of it to idle endlessly. County police refuse to enforce idling laws.

by John on Dec 16, 2012 5:10 pm • linkreport

Contra the opinion that we should just go ahead with bike share, irrespective of infrastructure, I am concerned that bike share will fail because of poor infrastructure, and that will be used to justify even less support for biking. The 3 large highways that go through Silver Spring, the higher speed limits, and the lesser number of "destinations" make SS very unlike DC.

by SJE on Dec 16, 2012 6:19 pm • linkreport

@SJE: "....I am concerned that bike share will fail because of poor infrastructure, and that will be used to justify even less support for biking."

Yes, some may argue that a bike share fail in Silver Spring would show there is no interest in biking. But MoCo is already seeing a high rate of cycling in those pockets where there is some infrastructure, such as Bethesda Row where we have the Capital Crescent Trail and bike lanes on Woodmont Avenue. We can make a strong counter-argument that a bike share fail in Silver Spring demonstrates the need for more support for biking infrastructure there.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Dec 16, 2012 7:18 pm • linkreport

While bikeshare and bike lanes are fine, there are imminent pedestrian-safety issues that affect many more people. For example, Montgomery County is full of four and six-lane roads with traffic signals far apart, where there is inconvenient and dangerous pedestrian access to County amenities except by car and unattractive and unsafe access to transit, especially bus service. Most signals do not leave sufficient time for any but the most fit pedestrians to cross. Many more areas have fast-moving traffic and limited pedestrian infrastructure. Again, nothing against bike lanes, but complete streets should include a balancing of modal access.

by Sheryl on Dec 17, 2012 10:16 am • linkreport

As I noted on Wash Cycle, they're generally good suggestions, but lacking in a few regards. For example, the GA Avenue from 29/Colesville down to 13th has all sorts of problems including bad traffic congestion, a huge grate underneath the Metro bridge and a series of places where vehicles routinely turnout without a light. I would never ride that stretch when alternatives on side streets strike me as far safer.

Similarly, I don't know if I would do Colesville Rd (before it's 29) from the circle up to GA Ave. In the morning or even afternoon, sure, but in the evening, no thanks. It routinely has problems with people running the light (coming out of Metro) onto 29, huge dips in the road right by GA Avenue that always accumulate ice, etc.

I do appreciate their seeking these routes then.

by T1 on Dec 18, 2012 12:02 pm • linkreport

Just wanted to clarify that WABA's & MoBike's recommendations were to improve mobility, ridership, and safety alongside Montgomery County's adoption of bikesharing. At no point did we suggest this suite of improvements must be completed prior to the implementation of bikeshare. We look forward to seeing bikeshare brought to the County in the near-term, and will continue to push the County to improve its roadway and trail infrastructure for the benefit of all bicyclists, including bikeshare riders.

by Shane on Dec 18, 2012 4:40 pm • linkreport

bikeshare is offers much potential.

however, dc may want to think about shifting from the "smart-dock" and to the "smart-lock" technology. basic disruptive innovation is underway and current dc bikeshare technology at risk of being outdated. viaCycle, SoBi, NextBike and others have developed this lower cost, more flexible technology.

just as the cd replaced the floppy, and digital photography replaced chemical photography, lower cost, more flexible "smart-lock" technology will make dc's current expensive "smart-dock" technology redundant.

by tglendening on Dec 18, 2012 10:58 pm • linkreport

The startup graveyard is littered with companies that were going to be disruptive like CD's and digital photography. The thing is that those products stand out because they're so rare. Look around your home and the number of things invented before 1950 will outnumber those invented since by a wide margin.

DC has made a large investment in the current program, they won't make the switch until AFTER other cities take a gamble on smartlock, make it work and prove it to be so much better than smartdock that they are forced to change despite path dependency issues. And that may never happen.

by David C on Dec 18, 2012 11:42 pm • linkreport

thanks for the response. it typically comes down to numbers. this website called says dc has subsidized capital bikeshare with $10.3 million. if so that works out to the taxpayer subsidizing capital bikeshare at a hefty $6,000 per bike (keeping in mind that a trek can be purchased in bulk for well under $300/bike).

More specifically recent prices:

- portland smartdock > $6,100/bike
- las vegas smartlock ~ $2,000/bike

at some point money matters...especially when taxpayers are paying for it. bikeshare is a great concept, but if dc subsidies continue, this is going to look like solyndra.

suggest it may be far more prudent and bite the bullet to the lower cost, more flexible technology.

by tglendening on Dec 18, 2012 11:49 pm • linkreport

interestingly, if one just does the math, if capital bikeshare intends to expand by more than 800 bikes, it is more financially prudent to dump the smartdock and implement the smartdock.

it is simple math.

by tglendening on Dec 18, 2012 11:53 pm • linkreport

My bad, I thought you were a disinterested observer, not someone working for the company that happens to sell this system. No point trying to convince you. Good luck.

by David C on Dec 18, 2012 11:53 pm • linkreport

not sure where you got the idea i work for any company selling smartlock or any automated bikeshare system. am a new york city based economist. this is an extension of a harvard alumni study focused on innovation.

as far as things around me, i have an LED tv in front of me, am typing on an apple, have an iphone next to me and a cfl light. none of this existed previously.

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 12:01 am • linkreport

not sure why you think i am tied to a system (am not). check out a variety of smartlock companies:

- viaCycle ( supports)
- SoBi (BMW supports)
- NextBike (many german companies support)
- Grand Scheme

the point is that it is a superior bikeshare model over what dc currently has. as bikeshare is long term, dc may want to correct itself while it is still a relatively small system.

our team's goal is to create a robust bikeshare model for cities from New York, to Nairobi to Nanjing.

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 12:16 am • linkreport

You have not explained how it is better. Only cheaper. With the exception of NextBike none of these programs are up and running. And none are in the United States. They're heavily reliant on smart phones, so what do you do if you don't have one? How do they deal with rebalancing - NextBike requires you to bring the bike back to where you go it from like Zipcar does? That does not seem better.

There's a very good reason that no one has adopted this widely in the US.

by David C on Dec 19, 2012 12:27 am • linkreport

it is late, but wanted to underscore that i have no equity in any smartlock bikeshare company, though i am looking. i do consult to bike and roll NYC which is the nation's largest bike rental fleet (2,000+ in NYC).

under no circumstance would i ever invest in a smartdock company like the one supplying capital bikeshare. it is outdated technology.

smartlock offers all that smartdock does at between 1/4 and 1/3 the price. smartlock is also more flexible. re-balancing is accomplished the same way the smartdock does it. basically smartlock offers all that smartdock does but at a fraction of the cost and with greater flexibility.

as far as roll out? the best current operator in the US is clearly BCycle. As far as smartlock, SoBi is working with BMW, viaCycle is rolling out in Las Vegas with Zappos.

In keeping with disruptive innovation, these new smartlock companies are doing exactly what they need to do to displace the smartdock companies like the one that runs capital bikeshare.

i am tired and apologize if this does not make sense. please visit our project site and look for bikeshare.

thank you for your time (especially if i was unclear).

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 12:58 am • linkreport

capital bikeshare should shift to smartlock if it intends to expand.

one unexplored issue is that US governments have been subsidizing the non-US capital bikeshare (by some calculations $6,000/bike), when leaner, more flexible US technology is available at 1/3 the price.

capital bikeshare = solyndra on wheels.

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 8:12 am • linkreport

Anyone pushing a specific technology with the only evidence being that one element of the system is cheaper needs to be thoroughly looked at.

Nothing on your website leads me to believe that this is anything but someone with a stake in a certain tech pushing that tech.

by MLD on Dec 19, 2012 9:05 am • linkreport

presumably you are involved with the older technology?

innovation happens. that is good. if the goal is to have a large and robust bike system, using the most flexible, low cost technology is the best way to get there.

as far as website, we are exploring investment-grade, implementable urban innovation in numerous sectors. in the transportation space this includes evs, ferries, smart transportation systems and bikeshare.

what is so interesting with bikeshare is that the current technology is clearly on its way to becoming outdated.

in contrast, the ev holds future promise (especially with induction charging) but there is no compelling business case. advantages of the newer smartlock over the older smartdock include:

- lower capital expense (about 1/4 to 1/3 the cost)
- lower operating expenses
- less risk of being tied to single supplier
- more flexible re: flooding (citibike)

to your point of pushing a certain tech, yes i am, but not due to any equity interest. i am an urban economist that is looking for innovation to make better cities - from new york to nairobi to nanjing.

the stronger we make bikeshare the better. the way we make bikeshare stronger is by using the most flexible, low cost technology and that is the smartlock (vs the smartdock).

there are other local economic development advantages to the smartlock...

if dc is looking long term it will expand with the smartlock. it can keep the same just shifts to the newer technology.

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 9:28 am • linkreport

one unexplored issue is that US governments have been subsidizing the non-US capital bikeshare

I don't know what you're talking about. This has been explored ad naseum.

by David C on Dec 19, 2012 9:53 am • linkreport

pretty simple.

US taxpayers subsidize capital bikeshare. capital bikeshare sources from a foreign company.

there are two US companies with more flexible, lower cost technology. viaCycle has gigs with and google. sobi has the support of bmw.

rather than continuing to support older technology from a foreign company, use this opportunity to shift to newer, more flexible US technology.

keep the same operator just use the new technology.

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 10:13 am • linkreport

can someone without a smartphone use the new technology?

There are some people who do not have smartphones - or have only one smartphone in a multi person household - or who simply leave their phone at home one day, or their phone runs out of power when they forget to recharge it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 19, 2012 10:19 am • linkreport

GGW has examined this

whats very interesting is one comment about German cities transitioning TO a smart dock tech.

There seem to be several advantages to smart dock, aside from greater friendliness to non smart phone users.

Though I can well see why in certain environments, like college campuses, smart lock could work particularly well.

I also think this points up the urgency of getting advertising/corp sponsorship for Cabi, to offset the cost of the stations.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 19, 2012 10:27 am • linkreport

the smartlock can include a kiosk.

the fundamental flaw of the smartdock approach is the dock. this is a problem because:

1. it is extremely expensive
2. 2 or 3 are required per bike to make system work

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 10:32 am • linkreport

i'd be interested about those german cities. interestingly US smartlock companies seem to have better smartlock technology than european ones.

re: sponsorship. i was team lead of a harvard alumni study three years ago exploring private sector options for nyc bikeshare. one issue was that sponsors wanted to make sure the bikeshare technology was most advanced. if cabi's smartdock system starts to be frumpy, the value of that sponsorship declines.

its not surprising that zappos, google, bmw and other advanced technology companies are partnering with the smartlock companies and not the smartdock ones.

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

Oh my God, talking with someone who has talking points is so frustrating. If I hear about zappos or BMW or subsidies or reason magazine or how much more expensive docks are I will lose it. Look you already wrote all that stuff. It's there. No need to repeat it in every comment.

by David C on Dec 19, 2012 10:50 am • linkreport

"one issue was that sponsors wanted to make sure the bikeshare technology was most advanced. if cabi's smartdock system starts to be frumpy, the value of that sponsorship declines."

oddly, there is advertising on the metro, in stations built in 1976. I'm sure advertising revenue from docks can be obtained, even if its not companies trying to show they are on the cutting edge.

and yes, that previous thread discussed virtual docks. They still do not have the full functionality of kiosks, nor do they address the issue of people who lack working smart phones.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 19, 2012 11:02 am • linkreport

sorry about redundancies, David C.

thanks for article (AWalkerInTheCity). a german company called nextbike has a hybrid system which may be of interest. and hopefully without being redundant, the smartlock can be placed in stations just like the current smartdock.

David C, why are you so beholden to an older system from another country that requires massive taxpayer subsidies?

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 11:08 am • linkreport

tg - why is the nationality of the company an issue - are you a protectionist?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 19, 2012 11:15 am • linkreport

@ AWalker... we actually looked at that example in nyc. our take was that a subway station is a subway station, it is neither current or outdated, though the location of the subway station mattered greatly.

we did find that advertising on newer taxis was more valuable than advertising on older taxis.

one takeaway was that part of the value of the sponsorship of bikeshare is being linked to advanced technology. if the bikeshare program starts to look like it is not advanced, that value of the sponsorship will drop.

the above is all based on testing sponsorship potential with specific prospects. there were other issues too like being demographically imbalanced.

the above is obviously all academic for the time being. and apologies if this is redundant, from a capital expenditure, operating expenditure and sponsorship perspective, the smartlock is superior.

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 11:23 am • linkreport

My point is not a detailed look at sponsorship potential of different techs - its that WITH sponsorship, docks may not require the large public subsidies you keep pounding on. And they still offer benefits - such as useability by tourists new to the system, and useability by those without smart phones.

You are sounding very much like someone with a strong stake in one tech.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 19, 2012 11:30 am • linkreport

@AWalker (nationalism)

not at all. have lived overseas working for uk and german companies for 5+ years. have traveled to over 50 nations. my kids are learning mandarin.

however when it comes to tax dollars i do think it is best to keep it in the US and ideally in the locale.

in this case particularly perverse because us tax dollars are subsidizing a foreign company and by doing so are putting a block on US entrepreneurs.

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 11:33 am • linkreport

why are you so beholden to an older system from another country that requires massive taxpayer subsidies?

Because it has been a wild success. I work in a risk adverse technology driven industry, and I've seen many programs fall into the ocean (literally) because they wanted to go with something new that was better instead of sticking with what is old and works.

You haven't proven to me that locking will work or be cheaper. You have just claimed that it will and it is. Show me the numbers from a functioning system otherwise all you have is speculation, and I don't want to see the region gamble on speculation (Not to mention that it will never happen. Do you realize what would be needed to get the various regional governments to agree to swap out the current system?)

by David C on Dec 19, 2012 11:35 am • linkreport

@AWalker, i do have a strong interest in one tech, but not in any particular company. we are working to expand bikeshare in challenging markets (e.g. developing world) and the best way to do that is with a low cost, high sponsorship model.

if we were talking about electric cars, i'd be promoting induction charging (though that is a much harder sell than the smartlock).

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 11:41 am • linkreport

"however when it comes to tax dollars i do think it is best to keep it in the US"

Govt procurement can be made on the basis of cost benefit only. Favoring US companies is protectionism. The rationale (employment) if it makes sense for govt procurement, makes the same amount of sense for anything else. National security issues aside.

And you keep saying that Alta is being subsidized. Its not. Users of bikeshare are being subsidized - Alta had to compete with other vendors of the same technology. I mean if I think a particular highway is subsidized, it does not mean the contractor is subsidized.

Your failure to admit even ONE disadvantage of the tech you support, your use of even protectionist arguments for it, your repetition of talking points, makes you sound very much like someone doing sales and marketing.

have you ever been to this blog before to talk about any other issues?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 19, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

"we are working to expand bikeshare in challenging markets (e.g. developing world) and the best way to do that is with a low cost, high sponsorship model. "

But DC is in a developed country, where the dock cost is small compared to total expenditures on transport infrastructure, where there are many tourists, where there is a significant number of people who rely on legacy land line phones and land line internet access (making smart phones less appealing than in LDCs I guess) and where there is already a bikeshare system in place that is doing very, very well, and is transforming the regions transportation culture. Changing tech would delay roll out, and endanger the market already gained - to save a modest amount (in the big picture) on docking stations.

Go prove your tech somewhere that doesnt have the investment in the old tech first, THEN come back to us.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 19, 2012 11:47 am • linkreport

am an economist...have no technology.

this started as a simple suggestion that before cabi expands that it consider newer technology that could substantially lower capital costs and operating costs that in turn would reduce taxpayer subsidies and/or increase the size of the bike fleet.

sorry if i offended, and thanks, i enjoyed the dialogue

by tglendening on Dec 19, 2012 12:07 pm • linkreport

Getting back to Silver Spring, no one has yet mentioned Takoma, Forest Glen or Wheaton, all places where CaBi is also targeted. Take a look at the bike "improvements" on Forest Glen Road as a good example for why MCDOT needs some serious help here. They have a full bike lane going in the downhill direction, and a NARROWED lane with sharrows going uphill where bikes need the most help.
Wheaton, I think, shows far more promise for CaBi than Silver Spring, because of it's semi-grid system, lack of railroad tracks splitting the CBD, and multipolar array of destinations. If safe ways can be found to cross the big 3 streets there, it could be a huge success. Takoma should be a breeze for CaBi, if only DC would also put stations nearby.
In Silver Spring - The US 29 parts of Colesville and Georgia are a no-go for bikes (sidewalks are okay though), let's just give up on those. Colesville past Discovery could easily have a 15th-Street style 2-way bike lane on the southbound side (parking now), and riders can also ride up the very wide sidewalks on Wayne & Coleville around Discovery. The other big weak link is 16th street - I tried to ride it once, it was terrible. There's tons of room to fix it though!
MCDOT could *easily* make all of these fixes, and they could do it relatively cheaply, I just don't have the faith that they will do it *well.*

by Joe in SS on Dec 21, 2012 9:38 pm • linkreport

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