Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Bike sharing maps multiply

In addition to recommending Capital Bikeshare locations, DDOT published maps showing some of their analysis to determine the locations:


Bike share crowdsourcing heat map from DDOT. Click to enlarge (PDF).

This is the "heat map" showing the locations people selected on the online survey. A light green dot seems to represent a single selection, and when more selections are close to each other, the dots combine into brighter colors.


Bikeshare planning analysis from DDOT. Click to enlarge (PDF).

This map combines planning factors DDOT used to determine a priority for sharing stations. According to the key, it gives points to areas for being within ¼ mile of bus stops, within ¾ mile of a Metro station or MARC/VRE station, within ¼ mile of a bike lane or trail, and for employment density, population density, and bike to work rate.

Finally, since Arlington has already released planned locations for the Crystal City/Pentagon City bike sharing stations, BeyondDC combined the two into a joint map:


Image from BeyondDC.

The Crystal City stations seem to have similar density to downtown DC. The heat map analysis also shows substantial demand along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. We already knew Arlington hoped to expand there next, but the Crystal City BID contributed to the initial Arlington stations, which is why they're there.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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I only have 1 question: And what part did the Comprehensive Plan play in deciding the locations of the bike share stations? ... You know, the plan that's supposed to be the overarching document guiding all our planning and land use decisions in the District. You know, the plan which all stakeholders participated in updating only recently. You know, the plan that ensure that all parts of the District government and private enterprize are working in concert at creating a better and more 'user-friendly' city.

Is DDOT's idea of 'planning' on-line polling?

by Lance on Jul 21, 2010 8:59 am • linkreport

Lance, the Comp Plan talks explicitly about expanding bike infrastructure and biking opportunities. How is this inconsistent with the Comp Plan?

by hmmmm on Jul 21, 2010 9:03 am • linkreport

The Comprehensive Plan recommends expanding bicycling, as hmmmm noted, but doesn't list specific locations. DDOT did a detailed analysis of factors including transit, employment and population density, and bike to work rate. That looks like a lot more planning than a survey. Or is this just like the streetcar where opponents claim no planning is being done because they haven't taken the time to read the plans?

by David Alpert on Jul 21, 2010 9:21 am • linkreport

@Lance

The second map is the heat map of where planning says you should place the stations, weighting proximity to transit stops/stations, proximity to bike lanes/trails, employment density, population density, and bike to work rate.

So yeah, their idea of 'planning' is taking the quantitative data produced by models and combining it with what people actually want to formulate a plan.

You know why Sheridan-Kalorama doesn't have any stations? Because there's very little transit access, it's relatively not population dense, and considering who lives there I doubt the bike to work rate is that high.

by MLD on Jul 21, 2010 9:23 am • linkreport

Lance = knee jerk reaction + prebiased negativity + finger pointing with no backup data = Sad. Sort of reminds me of a lot of the uneducated Tea Party propaganda designed to instill fear with no factual basis.

by dontedc on Jul 21, 2010 9:25 am • linkreport

These are great maps, and really illuminate the thought process behind station locations.

You can see in the "Analysis" map the gap between the U Street area and Columbia Heights, which also explains the relative lack of stations in that area. The proposed locations do a good job of hitting all the red areas of the map. Future expansion of the system can then cover all the orange areas and work on building links between the various 'spokes' of station clusters.

by Alex B. on Jul 21, 2010 9:27 am • linkreport

>You can see in the "Analysis" map the gap between the U Street area and Columbia Heights

Lol. Nobody wants to ride a bike up the hill.

by BeyondDC on Jul 21, 2010 9:31 am • linkreport

@David et al. In the context we're discussing, biking is like all other transportation infrastructure. Are you saying the Comprehensive Plan doesn't address where that infrastructure should go? E.g., Which corridors are for commuters, etc?

by Lance on Jul 21, 2010 9:34 am • linkreport

Why are almost all of the stations in the L'Enfant city and only a few outside of it ?

If you look at the edges of DC there are no bikes stations why is that; if these people are paying for these via taxes they should be near one regardless of if its used or not.

by kk on Jul 21, 2010 10:05 am • linkreport

@kk, Why are almost all of the stations in the L'Enfant city and only a few outside of it ?

Maybe they're not of the demographic that tends to read GGW or BeyondDC ... and thus didn't get to 'vote' for where they go ... ?

by Lance on Jul 21, 2010 10:11 am • linkreport

@kk

DC has 100 stations to locate. If they located the stations evenly across the district, the stations would be spread so thin as to make the system only somewhat useful.

by Alex B. on Jul 21, 2010 10:14 am • linkreport

@kk: If the bikes are placed where they won't be used, those tax dollars will have been wasted. The bikes should be widely available to as many people as possible, but that doesn't mean that everyone can have one next door.

If this program can replace some car and transit trips with bike trips, the increased air quality improvements and decreased congestion will benefit everyone. Put the bikes where they won't be used, and everyone misses out.

by JewdishoowarySquare on Jul 21, 2010 10:18 am • linkreport

@Lance: A fair point, though perhaps I would have expressed it more broadly. The "crowdsourcing" approach could be vulnerable to response bias. Any word on how/whether DDOT took that into account?

by JewdishoowarySquare on Jul 21, 2010 10:21 am • linkreport

The crowdsourcing element was only one part of the station location decision.

What's more remarkable is how much the crowdsourced map and the analysis map match up.

by Alex B. on Jul 21, 2010 10:25 am • linkreport

@Lance

Any chance you're going to quit with the misinformation that bike station placement = wherever people voted to put them? Probably too much to ask.

Look at the two maps - there's a lot of overlap for a reason.

by MLD on Jul 21, 2010 10:42 am • linkreport

@kk: Fair question about locations of the stands.

@Lance: Wrong answer that those who live outside of the L'Enfant city didn't read this blog and thus didn't vote.

Those parts of the city are of a much different character than the center city. Much of that area is far less dense, populated overwhelmingly by single-family detached homes. The have further spaced transit stations and fewer bus service as well. Any where it isn't--where there is denser housing and commerical corridors--those areas are too far removed from one another for biking to be a viable or expected transportation option.

I first fell in love with bike sharing when I tried Velib in Paris in 2008. There, most of my friends have sold or stored their own bikes. The model works best when there is saturation of bike stands, even a block from one another. It allows for easy access to/from your destinations, and a nearby stand in case the one you go to is either empty (when picking up) or full (when dropping off).

These bikes are also not intended to agument peoples long-distance commutes. If everyone used a shared bike to commute from Friendship Heights to downtown DC, vans would have to keep hauling the bikes back up during rush hour in the morning, and vice versa. And such cycling would usually involve showering at work, etc.

These bikes are better served for short trips (where you don't even break a sweat, as long as it isn't 95 degrees out). Downtown, where traffic congestion snarls the roads and brings even buses to a hault, SmartBike has been my only alternative to walking from meeting to lunch to outing to home. And as it stands now, with only 10 stands, if a stand is empty I have no alternative but to walk. But even with a stand going in in Spring Valley (by American University Law School), I'm probably not going to use a shared bike for an almost 5-mile trek.

Expansion beyond this 100, if successful, would certainly be to these further-flung areas. But density and saturation is how this will be effective, and the obvious start of that is in the center of the city.

by DK on Jul 21, 2010 11:21 am • linkreport

@DK, those areas are too far removed from one another for biking to be a viable or expected transportation option.

Maybe they'd like to use them for recreational purposes ... The roads are quieter there and a better place to be out bike riding than in the already city center.

by Lance on Jul 21, 2010 11:30 am • linkreport

Lance: Regular bicycles are good for recreational purposes. Many people have them. They're not that expensive.

by David Alpert on Jul 21, 2010 11:54 am • linkreport

@ Alex B

"DC has 100 stations to locate. If they located the stations evenly across the district, the stations would be spread so thin as to make the system only somewhat useful."

So your telling me its to hard to put one in Friendship Hgts, Petworth, Brightwood, Palisades, Chevy Chase, Hilcrest, Langdon, Ft Lincoln, or Capitol View but have around 60 something spots downtown.

Its not useful at all to people who don't live downtown because they would never be able to use it.

People might want them in those areas to ride to a store or something then return the bike to the station when done.

Would it be alright if WMATA cut all bus service in those areas because there spread so thin ?

DC is one entity and should act like one no area should get better service or treatment than another. All areas should have equal access. You have 100 stations you could put one every 2 miles covering the city and some would be left over.

How in the world could you have none in some parts of the city but in other areas you will have stations in sight of each other according to the maps.

by kk on Jul 21, 2010 1:04 pm • linkreport

kk: Bike sharing works best when the stations are located close to one and other. The whole point is that most people will pick one up and ride it only for 5-10 blocks or so. It's not meant to be a commuter device. Spreading out the stations for the purposes of making everyone happy will ensure that the stations are too far away from eachother to be useful. The stations have to be close enough to generate a network effect. Eventually the program might be so successful that it can be spread out.

Or in the terms of your hypo: would you create a bus system from the ground up that didn't focus on the center first?

by Reid on Jul 21, 2010 2:08 pm • linkreport

@kk:

I'm still not sure you understand the nature of this type of system. It is dependent on density and saturation. Each bike stand should be very close, even just a few blocks, from the rest. Friendship Heights, as an example, is 5 miles from downtown. Chevy Chase is a mile from even the next stand!

This has worked best in Paris, where there 1,639 stations --one station every 300 metres. If we are cheating with only 100 (way better than the first round of just 10), then we need to build dense and expand as we can.

Your suggsetion of one stand for someone to run shopping errands is also problematic. First, the bikes do not have locks, so you would need to bring one or store it in a safe place. Second, the pricing structure encourages taking them and quickly depositing them (only the first 30 minutes is included in the membership, then you are charged). This encouragement of quick turnover helps ensure that if you arrive at a stand and it is empty, someone will be along soon to drop off a bike (or if it is full, that someone will come along and clear a space for you). Finally, a placement at Friendship Heights would be at the most dense place--the Metro station. Well that is where the shops are, so no one is going to walk there, then get on the bike to go do shopping.

This system is intended to be integrated with other modes. For residents of Friendship Heights or Chevy Chase, it is more convenient to take the bus or rail downtown. Once there, they can pick up a shared bike to get to a different location.

Again, there is room for expansion. But if you're going to start with one part of the city, it is obviously going to be downtown. That is where most of us work, where most of the destinations are, and where there are is most congestion of cars and buses to be both relieved and avoided by this initiative.

One idea for expansion: Wait for Montgomery County to get on board! When they approach DC about expanding service, we would definitely want many many more stands along the DC/MD border.

by DK on Jul 21, 2010 2:13 pm • linkreport

@ Reid

I would start wherever the need is and that is not always the center; sometimes it is crossing geographic barriers (water, cliffs, elevation changes)

If I created a bus system I would start by creating routes that start by having 8 routes one at each corner ( Eastern + Southern, Southern + South Capitol, Eastern + Western & Western + MacArthur) of the city that lead to the center from each corner plus three circular route one in the center and the other two toward the corners each covering half the diamond so that all people are atleast 2 miles from access to the service which is not the best but its doable.

All would start on the same day, then over time expand other places but I would definitely start off with more than one area.

by kk on Jul 21, 2010 3:06 pm • linkreport

wrt kk's question, this is the crux of why I had problems with the public survey. The reality is that density of both population and employment has to drive the location of the stations, because the bikes need a lot of use in order to justify the station location. But people putting dots on a map can end up setting mismatched expectations.

As far as the Comp. Plan goes, a Comp. Plan should be setting up the broad framework ("macro" perspective) for planning. It shouldn't be expected to be prescriptive in every detail.

note though that DC doesn't do neighborhood planning in a systematic manner. If it did, community plans could have sustainable transportation elements as part of the overall plan. (This is one of the provisions I recommended for Baltimore County. We'll see if that recommendation stays in the draft plan--it's now out of my hands--which will be posted in a couple weeks.) Community plans should be more proscriptive than the Comp. Plan.

by Richard Layman on Jul 21, 2010 3:14 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman
wrt kk's question, this is the crux of why I had problems with the public survey. The reality is that density of both population and employment has to drive the location of the stations, because the bikes need a lot of use in order to justify the station location. But people putting dots on a map can end up setting mismatched expectations.

That's why DDOT's approach used the public survey along with the planning data (the second graphic) to place the stations.

by MLD on Jul 21, 2010 4:08 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman

wrt kk's question, this is the crux of why I had problems with the public survey. The reality is that density of both population and employment has to drive the location of the stations, because the bikes need a lot of use in order to justify the station location. But people putting dots on a map can end up setting mismatched expectations.

As MLD notes, DC did exactly this kind of analysis, and the 'heat map' for that is remarkably similar to the public's location choices.

by Alex B. on Jul 21, 2010 4:26 pm • linkreport

Another reason for the L'Enfant City being over-represented has to do with why the L'Enfant City is the L'Enfant City (and why DC is where it is). Central DC sits in a bowl, with the Florida Escarpment to the north the hills in Anacostia to the west, and Arlington Ridge to the south. Hills do not go well with bike sharing they've found. So they'll put the first set of stations in the bowl.

by David C on Jul 21, 2010 11:51 pm • linkreport

I'm curious what station density DDOT is aiming for with this?

Bike sharing stations can be found in Hangzhou every 100 meters compared to the 300 meters in Paris and most other parts of Europe. In Seville, Spain it's every 200 meters.

by Lee.Watkins on Jul 22, 2010 7:01 am • linkreport

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