Sharing seems to be sweeping across the bicycle landscape. Last month I wrote about “sharrows”. Those are the symbols that have recently popped up on many miles of Ferguson streets, combining a bicyclist with arrows. Within the symbol the bicyclist happily shares space with the arrows. The symbols tell bicyclists and motorists that the road is a shared space. Lots of sharing going on.
But a new type of sharing is taking place in cities around the globe. Bike share…
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In a previous column (http://www.fergusoncyclingclub.com/articles_Nov2011.shtml) I wrote about trying out the bike share program in London. I did this with one of my sons. Recently I had the opportunity to experience the bike share program in New York City with another of my sons. The New York bike share system, called “Citibike” (http://citibikenyc.com/), debuted over the Memorial Day weekend and has been wildly successful. On August 11 the New York system logged its two millionth ride, just 76 days after launching. Usage statistics on the Citibike website show that there were 33,996 rides taken on the day that my son and I used the system. We were just two of them.
Except for being in different cities, London or New York, the experience of the two systems was amazingly similar. Here’s what I wrote about the experience in London. Almost the exact same things could be written about New York’s bike share system:
What I can tell you is this: there are 1000s of bikes, available for loan, distributed in 100s of docking stations all around central London. These bikes are intended to be used for short trips in the downtown area. The idea is that the city supplies bikes to be checked out, ridden a short distance, and returned to a docking station near the rider's destination. Multiple short trips like this can be made all day long for less than two dollars.
Online maps show you where the docking stations are and how many bikes are available at each. If you browse the website above you will be able to look at the map and get an overview of where bicycles are available. This made it easy to find bikes for my son and me. We were able to explore a lot more of London than we could have done by foot and saw it from a much better perspective than on a bus or in a car.
But there are a few differences in the systems.
One difference is the cost. In London all day access cost 1 British pound, less than two dollars. In New York all day access cost $9.95, plus tax. That tells us a few things: the Brits want to make it easily accessible to all income levels; the Brits are more polite in making sure the charges are an even number (they could have charged 0.99 pounds to make it seem less expensive); and the Brits have a sensible value-added tax system that includes the tax in the price so you don’t end up paying more than what’s on the price tag. Three cheers for the Brits!
But one thing New York had over London was the Brooklyn Bridge. Have you seen the Geico ad on TV where the little gecko is walking down the center stripe of a bridge, all the while being buzzed by bicyclists flashing past? And in the background a guy gets down on bended knee to propose to his fiancée…until a bicyclist rides right in between them, ruining the moment? That ad was shot on the Brooklyn Bridge. I just had to ride over that bridge! The view coming into Manhattan was spectacular, with the New York City skyline rising up and the new World Trade Center towering over all. And the pedestrians and bicyclists on the bridge while I was there were not nearly as rude as those in the Geico ad.
I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to explore a major city than on a bike share system.
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You may have missed the Moonlight Ramble (it was August 17). But there’s no need to miss the Twilight Ramble. This year’s edition will be held on Sunday, November 3, with rides at 3:00, 3:30, and 4:30pm. Mark your calendar and watch for more details here and around town.
And while you are watching and waiting, prepare for the Twilight Ramble by riding on the first Bicycle Fun Club ride ever held in Ferguson. On Saturday morning, September 21, Trailnet will host the Historic Ferguson Bicycle Tour. Hundreds of bicyclists from all over the St. Louis region will be riding routes all around town. While riding they will be able to take tours of the Earthdance Organic Farm and the Challenger Learning Center. The Ferguson Farmers Market will also be open, of course. And for anyone who hangs around into the lunch hour, the Morse Telegraph Club will be giving a demo of Morse code at the Whistle Stop Depot.
Take advantage of these great riding opportunities and come ride with us!