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I'm really excited about the SmartBike Expansion. The bigger the bikeshare program, the better they seem to work - However, even with the expansion it's still 1/10 the size it needs to be to compare with European systems. We're that far behind.

The Vélib’ system has about 1 bike per every 108 people in the urban part of Paris. By contrast the Smartbike expansion will bring the DC ratio down to 1 bike per 1184 people - assuming it's a weekend with nothing going on. Keep in mind I'm only calculating for people who actually live in the city.

The District has a resident population of 591,833; however its population rises to over one million during the workweek - bringing the ratio to around 2200 people for every SmartBike. The Washington Metropolitan Area, has a total population of 5.3 million, the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the country. The suburban pop. is 20.3x the urban pop. For comparison, the Paris metropolitan area has a population of nearly 12 million (double DC) but more than 2 million actually live in the city (the suburban pop. is 5.5x the urban population) vs. 20.3 in DC - so you really have to consider the effect of commuters in DC a lot more.

I think a per population equation isn't quite right, but a per mile one is better. I think a better goal is having everyone be within in a 10 minute walk (3-4 blocks?) of a kiosk. This plan doesn't do that yet either though. Of course you need enough bikes so that when someone walks to the kiosk they find one.

I agree, WC. The key to the success of Vélib is that it transformed Paris literally overnight, by putting another 10,000 (now 20,000) bikes on the street. In other words, it created the critical mass of cyclists that is so important to making people comfortable with getting on a bike and riding in the city.

Another difference with Vélib' is that in Paris you can walk up to a kiosk with a credit card, sign up for a short-term membership, and walk away with a bike in less that 5 minutes. This is another of the reasons that Vélib has been so successful: you can try it out first.

I would like to see Smartbike succeed, but I suspect that the incrementalist approach is not bold enough.

Excellent point about stations per-mile with the geographic perspective.

The aim of the stystm in Lyon is to have stations within 300m of every point in the city. It was the raving success of the Lyon system that inspired the massive up-front investment with Vélib’.

Paris also launched their system wtih roughly one station every 300 metres throughout the entire city centre. The density of the stations is great enough to change the environment, encouraging people to mix one-way transit stops with one-way bicycle use where desired, promoting redundancy in transporation options. The downside of this is that all the bikes end up at the bottom of hills! It seems they tried to minimize this by placing most of the stations at the same elevation, favoring flat areas.

Bicing in Barcelona followed the same pattern as well. The stations there are situated with a distance of around 300 to 400 metres between each one (basically at the end of every block), with many situated next to public transport stops to allow for intermodal use. The Metro Stations usually have signs pointing to the locations of nearest Bicing stations.

It is tempting to think these big systems have the highest densities, but that turns out not to be the case. Take a look at The Sevici stystem in Seville. The stations are only around 200 metres between each one.

Consider for a moment what travel would be like in DC with a tiered intermodal network of (inexpensive, federally-subsidized) High-Speed inter-city trail, linked to street-car/TRAMS, buses, and subways, with stops that directed users to SmartBike stations every 200 meters thoughout the city center and every 300-400 meters in outlying areas of the district, all connected by a continuous network of grade-separated bike tracks protected by bollards or curbs. And an expanded tree canopy. All with dedicated funding steams, aided by variable market-rate parking on city streets and a hike on the gas tax and bridge tolls.

They already have it.
We could too.

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