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.