Sunday, March 01, 2009

who needs ownership when you have access...

It's been awhile since I've posted in earnest, and after an eco unfriendly jet from California to Europe. A few days of recovery, and I am almost sleeping at a normal schedule, the key word is almost has given me some time to reflect. There's been a lot of talk about the Paris rent a bike system in the American press, but it's not limited to Paris. In the cities of Barcelona ("Bicing") and San Sebastian ("Bicincitta") there are now rent a bike systems as well as witnessed below.

These community bike programs seem to be catching on. It's a combination of technology and interest that make these possible. I was thinking what factors make bike sharing practical and I've come up with the following list:

- sufficient density. Both Barclelona and San Sebastian are fairly dense cities, so if you borrow a bike it's only a short journey to make it possible to get something done.
- flat terrain, I did a lot of walking in both cities and I think the total elevation change was limited to going underground for the subway. It's that flat. In San Francisco I think, an Embarcadero rent a bike system would work but beyond that it's not clear the average commuter would have the legs to make it up the hills of San Francisco. But the Embarcadero and Market street areas are sufficiently flat that it would be entirely possible. The popularity of the Blazing Saddles bicycle rental means that there is a market.
- Reasonably safe bike routes. One of the things that impressed me about Barcelona was that many of the Barcelona major boulevards had bicycle and cycling lanes right down the center.
- Good weather. Warm climes definitely make it possible, curious to how the Paris system works.

Bicycling as an on demand system has potential.


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