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Future of bike share, which wheels go where

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Future of motorbike share, which wheels go the place

Picture by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash

Friday, Oct. 30, 2020

Boulder’s iconic B-cycles have stay largely unchanged since their 2011 debut. The colour, the docking stations, the brand — even a few of the bikes themselves are the very ones that rolled streets and sidewalks almost a decade in the past. The shared cycles have had constant operation and possession in Nonprofit Boulder Bike Share, utilizing tools and tech from BCycle, LLC, a subsidiary of Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycle.

A lot of that might change, and shortly, because the shared system searches for a sustainable funding mannequin. Probably on the horizon are the debut — and, some say, eventual domination — of e-bikes and the attainable finish of Boulder Bike Share’s reign.

Metropolis council gave suggestions Tuesday night time that the way forward for bike sharing in Boulder could not embody native possession or operation — or any metropolis cash.

“I need to thank Boulder Bike Share for the previous decade,” stated Mayor Sam Weaver. “I hope they’re concerned within the subsequent decade, however I believe now we have to let the current market determine that out.”

Read a thread from Tuesday’s B-Cycle discussion

Workers plans to launch a aggressive bidding course of quickly for organizations prepared to personal and/or function a motorbike share system. The responses Boulder receiving will inform the eventual enterprise mannequin.

4 seemingly eventualities had been laid out for council: 

State of affairs A
New Personal Sector Service Supplier. Current B-cycle system can be dismantled and the BBS nonprofit group can be dissolved.

State of affairs B
New Personal Sector Service Supplier. Current B-cycle system can be dismantled. BBS would function the brand new system by way of franchise mannequin.

State of affairs C
B-Cycle, LLC Operates Current Platform. With or with no partnership with BBS.

State of affairs D
BBS continues to function current B-Cycle system by way of on-going, annual metropolis subsidy.

Personal possession can be cheaper for Boulder, however it means the bikes would want to show a revenue; the town may face a lack of service in the event that they didn’t earn cash. Boulder would retain management if it saved subsidizing bike share — pursuing objectives round fairness and entry — however continued authorities funding is unlikely given the deep price range cuts to transportation amid COVID-19. 

The extent of subsidy required to maintain Boulder Bike Share operational, nonetheless, shouldn’t be financially viable with current metropolis transportation funds,” employees wrote in notes to council.

Town has contributed $1.038 million B-cycle over the previous 9 years. The College of Colorado and Boulder County have additionally kicked in. Boulder B-cycle has a fleet of 300 bikes and 45 docking stations, producing about 1 journey per bike per day, or 105,000 journeys per yr.

B-cycle’s share of native ridership (versus vacationers) has elevated lately, significantly amongst CU college students. The college will seemingly keep its monetary assist of motorbike share, Brandon Smith stated Tuesday, which permits it to “present” memberships to college students, employees and/or college.

“We now have seen an incredible success in that, so I be ok with that subsidy and offering the same subsidy sooner or later,” stated Smith, assistant director of sustainable transportation. “We might do every part that we may.” 

To scoot or to not scoot?

Boulder hopes to have a full providing of micromobility transportation choices by the spring. (Micromobility = Small, light-weight automobiles working at speeds sometimes beneath 15 mph and pushed by customers personally.) Together with the B-cycle revamp, employees intends to incorporate e-bikes citywide — council pushed to up the share of electrical bikes, given their reputation — and e-scooters in restricted elements of east Boulder, per a Sept. 15 council vote.

That call was not unanimous. Bob Yates and Mark Wallach dissented; Adam Swetlik was opposed as effectively however modified to a vote of assist within the identify of compromise. Mirabai Nagle, who was absent for that assembly, indicated her opposition by way of e-mail. 

On Tuesday, Yates stated he would “most likely” vote down any deal for B-cycle if it included e-scooters, diverging from the need of council.

“I’m not excited concerning the truth we’re going to have e-scooters as a part of this program,” Yates stated. “So a lot in order that I most likely would are likely to vote towards no matter proposal comes earlier than us if it consists of e-scooters as a part of a package deal with e-bikes.” 

Read a thread from Tuesday’s mobility discussion

Yates stays involved concerning the high incident of e-scooter crashes, which led council to implement a moratorium on issuing enterprise licenses to shared e-scooter firms in 2019. Know-how continues to evolve; seated e-scooters will present a decrease middle of gravity and larger wheels, which ought to enhance security.

Security dominated the second half of Tuesday’s dialogue about the place human- and electric-powered automobiles needs to be allowed in Boulder. Land use guidelines presently dictate whether or not bikes, scooters, skateboards, and so on. could be on the sidewalk or on the street, however it’s created confusion for riders and pedestrians.


Allowed: Human-powered (bikes, skateboards, rollerblades) and e-bikes

Not allowed: E-scooters, hoverboards, and so on.

Multi-use paths

Allowed: Bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, e-bikes

Not allowed: E-scooters, hoverboards, and so on.

Streets/bike lanes

Allowed: Bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters

Not allowed: Skateboards, rollerblades, one-wheels, and so on.

Workers’s suggestion was to permit each sort of auto all over the place — streets, sidewalks and multi-use paths — however have clearly outlined “dismount zones” in areas with excessive pedestrian quantity, similar to downtown and College Hill.

Council members needed to tinker with dismount zones, which employees had steered observe the bounds of common enchancment districts. Downtown, as an example, lacks protected bike lanes or multi-use paths on some streets, councilman Aaron Brockett identified.

“We don’t have a superb low-stress bicycle community right through downtown,” he stated. Brockett additionally steered a second take a look at a proposed dismount zone in Boulder Junction: “I used to be a bit unclear why that enchancment district was included within the dismount zones. Proper now it doesn’t have that top of pedestrian site visitors.”

A majority of council additionally wasn’t snug permitting electric-powered gadgets on sidewalks, on account of their excessive speeds and potential for collisions with strolling residents.

“I’ve a grave concern about placing electric-powered automobiles on sidewalks, usually,” stated councilman Wallach. “I believe safety of pedestrians must be our first and highest worth, particularly since a few of these pedestrians are going to be kids or the aged or different people who find themselves not fairly as nimble by way of getting out of the way in which of somebody who’s careening down the sidewalk with an electric-powered equipment.”

Some Boulder residents share these issues. In a web-based questionnaire, 42% of respondents ranked velocity of e-vehicles as their high concern in permitting them on sidewalks. Council questioned the validity of the survey, which drew 360 responses.

In 5 years of information collected by the transportation division, there have been no extreme bike vs. pedestrian crashes on sidewalks or multi-use paths (although some critical bike-on-bike crashes on paths). Information on collisions involving electric-powered gadgets was not introduced, although they’re current in small numbers on paths and sidewalks.

One problem, in line with employees, is that customers are unclear of velocity limits on multi-use paths (15 mph) sidewalks (8 mph within the crosswalk) or the foundations on “which wheels go the place,” as transportation planner Dave “DK” Kemp stated.

“We may do a greater job” of training the general public, Kemp stated. “We now have to go full courtroom press to actually get the phrase on the market,” which can embody velocity restrict indicators on sidewalks.

Extra public engagement is deliberate. Workers will return to council in January with proposed adjustments; a public listening to will probably be held at the moment.

— Shay Fortress, boulderbeatnews@gmail.com, @shayshinecastle

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Transportation Aaron Brockett B-Cycle bike lanes Bob Yates Boulder Bike Share Boulder Creek Path docking stations e-bikes e-scooters Mark Wallach Mirabai Nagle multi-use paths Sam Weaver shared bikes sidewalks Trek


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