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On bike shares and the pandemic

We begin August 2020 with another article I want to share. Here is another article on cycling, this time on bike share:

Kanik, A. (2020) “The decisions cities made about coronavirus had a big impact on bikeshare ridership,” citymetric.com, https://www.citymetric.com/transport/decisions-cities-made-about-coronavirus-had-big-impact-bike-share-ridership-5218[Last accessed: 7/29/2020]

Our university’s bike share program currently dedicated their bikes for the use of frontliners. Outside UP Diliman, only the City of Pasig has a bike share program. Is it somewhat surprising that these are the only bike shares we know in the country? It should be, considering the potential of bike shares and cycling as a mode of transport for mobility. In fact, two cities, Marikina and Iloilo, which pride themselves having formal bikeways (Marikina even has an extensive bikeway network that began 20 years ago.) have no bike share programs. Is the concept or perhaps the lack of facilities to encourage people to bike safely that is absent and therefore need to be provided?  With the surge of bike users post-lockdown, there should be evidence that bike shares can work but only if cities work on it, too.

 

File photo of Iloilo City’s bikeway along the Benigno Aquino Jr. Ave. (formerly Diversion Road) taken in 2015.

On bikesharing for cities

We start the month of May with an article on bike shares. I saw this on a link posted on the Planetizen site but the link actually leads to the Citylab website.

Baca, A. (2018) “What Cities Need to Understand About Bikeshare Now,” citylab.com, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/04/a-complete-taxonomy-of-bikeshare-so-far/558560/ [Last accessed: 5/1/2018]

Bikeshares are definitely something to consider for many cities and the article is quite timely given the recent developments in support of cycling:

Bicycle Projects Can Now Earn Saleable Credits under UN’s Clean Development Mechanism

Hopefully, more cities and municipalities in the Philippines will not only promote cycling but also build the infrastructure and implement programs to convince people to cycle. And this shouldn’t be for recreation or exercise but more for commuting.

No more bike share at BGC?

Walking back to the parking lot near Seda Hotel after my meeting near Net One Center yesterday, I noticed that the bike share rack near Krispy Kreme was empty of bicycles. I was about to rejoice but then I noticed, too, that the portal by which you can borrow a bicycle was also missing. Was it temporarily removed because of all the activities (Christmas season) that were ongoing at Bonifacio High Street? Or were the proponents already in the process of removing them? I hope it was the first or perhaps the second but only to relocate the rack elsewhere where it is more strategic and perhaps attract more people to use it. Meanwhile, a nearby bike rack for cyclists to place and secure their bicycles was full. This meant a lot of people actually took their bicycles to High Street but these were their own and not part of the bike share system.

Bike share success?

There are two articles about bike sharing that got my attention today. These are both asked the question of weather bike sharing programs actually work or are successful. Following are links to the two articles available online:

Both articles draw upon the experiences in many cities in the United States where various bike share programs have sprouted. Many seem to have had some measure of success but most are not as successful when evaluated using criteria mentioned in the articles. I guess there’s much to be learned here but the experiences should not be limited to the US. There are better examples in Europe where bicycle use is quite popular compared to the US. Perhaps Asian examples, too, need to be assessed but then all need to be examined objectively and according to the unique situations and/or circumstances for how these bike shares came to be in the first place. In Metro Manila, the bike share program by the students at the sprawling University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City is a recent one but is very popular with students. Another, more endowed program in a more posh district in Taguig City is much less successful judging from the usually full racks of bicycles. There are also lessons to be learned here and perhaps things that can be shared with others looking to come up with their own bike share programs in their cities and towns.

Tutubi bike share at BGC

I had been curious about the ADB-supported bike share initiative they called Tutubi since it was launched at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) in Manila and at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig. These have sophisticated portals where one can rent a bicycle by simply swiping or tapping your card unto the terminal. I finally noticed the bike station at Bonifacio High Street in BGC. I don’t know how I missed it since we are there weekly but then there are usually events in that area and the bike share station may have been obscured. Following are a few photos I was able to take as I watched our toddler walking about curiously and excited of the fountains and others she found interesting at High Street.

img_3080All the bikes seem to be here as not a slot was vacant.

img_3082It seemed ironic to see not one bike in use against the backdrop banners of a popular motoring magazine.

img_3081A closer look at the portal shows what looks like a new (unused?) facility.

It seems to me that there are few users of the Tutubi at least at Bonifacio High Street. I wonder if the bikes at UST are utilized more than the ones at BGC. I also wonder if UST is monitoring or studying bicycle use in its campus. Its use being limited within the premises of the campus sort of restricts users and diminishes utility. UST has a walkable campus and while its area is big (20+ ha) compared to other universities and colleges in the University Belt district, it is smaller beside Katipunan neighbors Ateneo De Manila University  (80+ ha) and the University of the Philippines (493 ha). The latter two are also “walkable” with UP having more park-like features and open to the public.

UP Diliman has its own Bike Share program run by students and (I might come as biased) these seem to be popular on campus as I see many of the bikes used by students to go around from one building to another. UP Bike Share currently employs a more conventional system including subscriptions for frequent users. There is, however, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-funded project through the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute of UP Diliman that hopes to develop a more sophisticated system for managing and monitoring the bikes. That project has just started so we might wait 1 to 2 years to see its fruits.