Monday, April 28, 2008

Our leaders leading...Or at least where they live.

The New York Times has coverage of a new high tech bike share system that is starting in Washington DC. Modeled after programs in Europe, the bicycles are distinctive and have a electronic swipe system to track usage and locations of the bikes. Human nature is something that technology had to solve, since early programs had bikes getting stolen or thrown away. My friend recounts in Geneva where they painted bikes ugly colors as a deterrent to being stolen, but they were often painted.

A novel twist to having such expensive bikes is that the bikes are indirectly advertising supported in exchange for the rights to bus stop advertising. The service in the U.S. will be run by Clear Channel's SmartBike. It'll be interesting to see how the experiment takes hold in our nation's Capitol given the weather challenges.

The goal of SmartBike is to address the challenges of intermodal transportation between main line public transit. It's a problem begging to be solved. The other day I was taking CalTrain back to my home in Silicon Valley from San Francisco and visited a bike shop with a large inventory of folding bikes from Bike Friday and Dahon. I also saw people using skateboards and scooters to get to the train station.

SmartBike is a nice addition to the mesh of transit alternatives and a bold experiment, I hope it pans out.


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