Saturday, 6 August 2016

MOBI update

I'm really pleased to hear that MOBI has already exceeded all expectations and hasn't even completed the pilot phase.

Since my last entry, we were granted access to the existing fleet and have used them numerous times.  I'm happy to report that some of my main concerns have been addressed.  Much has changed!

First off, my map HERE has changed alot since earlier,.. some key stations were added in places right where I would like to see them. Unfortunately my map is now more of a record of where a station HAS been,.. but might not be now.   This map shows all stations but what is currently open is only a subset of these.


  • The helmet issue seems to be partially solved and indeed,.. only one helmet has been stolen so far which strikes me as amazing.  The solution is to use the cable lock through the vent holes.  The first time I saw this in use I saw a founding member lock through the strap so I wonder when the less savvy general populace starts using it,.. will there be more of that? There is still no solution for the cleaning or sanitary issue - we simply put on dirty helmets still.
  • Stations in the DTES - Cordova and Abbot is pretty bold and pretty useful,.. I was worried I'd not get a station to use there where I'd not want to take my own bike
  • Station at Arbutus and 10th - at least there are signs there might be stations for those of us not in the Downtown peninsula
  • Generally good spread on downtown peninsula including temporary stations for the fireworks which was a concept I'd not though of. Key ones that come to mind at the ones near Stanley Park and St. Paul's,.. all well provisioned now.
  • The bikes themselves seem more capable for hills than I had expected.  It remains to be seen if they can handle Fairview slopes up to Broadway or 16th.
  • Bird poop - some stations could  have been under cover but instead were put in known bird poop central locations.  South side of VPL and Granville and Georgia come to mind.
  • Only 2 stations South of 8th St AT ALL.  For me this will make or break if I use this. Currently my neighbourhood (a dense rental area already underserviced by parks, transit, and car shares due to parking and backing onto the rich neighbourhood) has nothing for 7 blocks in either direction.  I think with this 150 stations planned within the "zone" the number should be max like 4 blocks and be targeted between transit options or it really isn't a great "alternative".   We need something between Oak and Granville, between 10th and 16th.
  • No clear messaging as to what stations are coming next, when, or even when we move from being in pilot mode to open to the public.  I generally find MOBI PR lacking in useful information and if people knew about station locations,.. they might get more early sign-ups.

MOBI,.. please keep going and start thinking about all the sweet cycling action to be had on the South side of False Creek.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

MOBI - Vancouver's Bike Share

Despite only having 1.5 109 Walks left to do,.. I've bunged my knee and my hike season has stopped before it really started. In the meantime, I can do light cycling and the thing that has captured my mind right now is the imminent go live of Vancouver's MOBI bikeshare.

I've signed up as a founding member as much as a way to invest in the concept as much as to have another travel option.

I've used bike shares in:
  • Stockholm
  • San Fran
  • Chicago
  • Ottawa 
  • Washington DC
  • Miami
  • Seville
  • Madrid
  • New York
  • Toronto
I've always enjoyed the experience of bikeshares. The concept of not having to come back to your bike afterwards appeals to me as a local.  I suspect my usage in Vancouver will be mostly quick one way trips home where transit is less convenient,.. or trips to places I would rather not lug my helmet or risk my bike being stolen (eg. Chinatown and the DTES).  However, that all depends on the proximity of the nearest station to my home.   This is why I'm so obsessed with the placement of the stations.

I'll get into that but there is a serious albatross in the room when it comes to MOBI Vancouver: helmets.  Helmets might kill this in its tracks yet, and worse,.. I have a feeling it might influence station placement right where I'd like to see stations deployed. 

According to the MOBI reps at Khatsalano day,.. the helmet solution isn't a solution at all.  Each bike will have a helmet in the basket,.. not secured,.. and we are expected to put it back in there at the end of the trip... and no one is expected to steal it.  By my rough calculation they will lose 1500 helmets a day,.. 1 per bike, to theft. I think the helmets are Nutcase so lets say they get a volume deal for $50... $75,000 a day,.. ok maybe I'm exaggerating, but if I was a bike rental place,.. I'd think I've just found a way to sabotage my new worst nightmare.

For those that don't know, Vancouver is one of the very few cities on earth (possibly the universe!) with a mandatory bike helmet bylaw.  It is in the opinion of many that this, and the recent VPD thrust to fine people,.. is all that has slowed Vancouver from being the fastest growing cycle juggernaut in North America.  It certainly has slowed the previous attempts at a bike share as it presents a very challenging requirement that well tested solutions in other places never had to contend with. Combine that with the fact we have a thievery heavy city for bikes and "sellable" accessories,.. and it is amazing they even tried.  Again,.. a reason I'm worried these stations won't appear in the rougher parts of town,.. which happen to be where I don't want to bring my own bike!

As we approach the delayed go-live date, people are seeing stations everywhere.  I believe there are 25 total (of 150!) and already the web is pretty good for the downtown core (unfortunately not at all for those South of Broadway).  Oddly, MOBI doesn't want to share those locations with even their founding members ( a missed market opportunity if you ask me: "hey you've got a station right by your place,.. you should sign up!").  I've decided to go on a hunt for them, and ask my friends for leads on where to find them.

THIS links to a map I've created of the existing ones I've found and ones I think absolutely have to be next on the list after the pilot. Since I posted it on the 10th,... at least 2 have gone in, and 1 was exactly where I had hoped near St. Pauls. 

If you come across more, let me know! I'm hoping I misheard about the helmet solution because I really want this to be part of the fabric of our city.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

109 Walks 5th Edition bagging

So what does a 103 Hikes trail bagger do in the off-season? 109 Walks 5th edition of course!

I've been picking away at this book for decades, and I'm betting so have most Vancouverites (just without knowing it).  If you have walked in Stanley Park, Pacific Spirit or Lighthouse Park then yup,.. you're a 109 bagger.

Compiled by the same authors as 103Hikes, this publication focuses on trips generally less than 4 hours, with at worst moderate elevation gain (but don't be fooled you can hit "real hikes" in this book but most are urban parks).  Snow is rarely an issue for these, nor is doing them on a rainy day.  The "zone" covers Hope to Pemberton, and includes the Sunshine Coast.  There are new editions out, this version was written 16 years ago but as far as I know almost all trails are still usable.

At the time of writing this I'm 3.5 walks from completing the book. I've done most after work, and many are doable by anything but a road bike too. It is my intention to share the best finds from this book and post them here.

Left to go:
Goldie Lake109 Walks 5 ed.
Weaver Lake109 Walks 5 ed.
Saquatch Park109 Walks 5 ed.
South Elphinstone109 Walks 5 ed.