Monday, March 11, 2013

BikePortland article on Capital Bikeshare

Photo: BikePortland
Jonathan Maus of BikePortland was in town last week for the National Bike Summit. Jonathan used Capital Bikeshare to get around while he was in town. Portland plans to launch a bikeshare system next year.

Jonathan spent some time using the system and interviewing some of the CaBi crew including General Manager Eric Gilliland, formerly WABA's Executive Director (and an early supporter of FABB). The article, Behind the scenes of Capital Bikeshare, contains some good photos and information about the system. Here's an excerpt:
Capital Bikeshare employs 45 people; a mix of managers, mechanics, technicians and a street team (technically they're all employed by Alta Bicycle Share, the system's operator).

Most of the staff at Capital Bikeshare is made up of what are known as "rebalancers." They're in charge of making sure there are just the right number of bikes at any one of the stations at any given time. The term "rebalance" is used because they attempt to balance out the empty and full stations so users are assured either a bike to rent or a place to dock no matter where or when they need one.

Unlike a subway or bus system, where the passenger vehicles rotate through the routes consistently, there's a finite number of vehicles in a bikeshare system and a limited number of places to park them (each bike must be secured at an electronic docking station). And depending on topography, commute patterns, and special events — mass migrations of the bicycles from one part of town to another presents a challenge. The northwest part of DC, for example, is densely populated and it's on a hill. This means in the morning, thousands of people grab bikeshare bikes and roll into downtown.

"In the morning, we try to have [downtown] stations empty," explained Gilliland, "As they fill up, we sweep up the bikes and try to catch another wave of commuters."

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