Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Finally Movement in Baltimore's Bikeshare

Baltimore is poised to select today the  company Bewegen as its bikeshare operator. Bewegen is German (and Dutch) for to move. After six years of false starts (for details read the SUN article) there is now finally movement (Bewegung) in Baltimore's bikeshare program.

Who has ever undocked one of those Capital Bikeshare bikes in Washington DC (or any of the many other programs around the country) knows, that those bikeshare bicycle models are sturdy, clunky and heavy and can get a rider who isn't all that fit easily into a sweat. In spite of the general popularity of bike-share, that may turn many potential users many off.
Bewegen Bike

This is where Baltimore's favored system may come with a special twist: Bewgen is a specialist for for the e-bike. The e-bike, a bicycle with electric assist, are all the rage in Europe but haven't caught on here yet. E-bike bring those to bicycling who are afraid of sweat, hills and looking ridiculous when they have to pedal too quick or too hard. With the electric assist they still pedal like others, but the harder the push into the pedal the more electric power is added, in other words, one never has to pedal too hard, never beyond a certain force, not even uphill. Coll, huh?

The reason why adding e-bikes to the menu of mobility options is that it could be a great way to get additional demographics to use bikes that would otherwise show the velocipede the cold shoulder. The more comfortable e-bike also has great potential for covering "the last mile" between the last transit stop and the final destination. MTA is currently studying how it can best augment the City bike-share launch with stations at important transit stops.

Bewegen North America is headquartered in Quebec, Canada. The electric bike is a development of Miele (known for its washing machines).
 We wanted to pay tribute to the Netherlands as the pioneers of bike-sharing and of bicycle commuting. We decided on this unique name: Bewegen. Bewegen is simply the verb “to move’’ in Dutch and German. We integrated a lightning bolt into the word to make our logo and to link it with our product. (Bewegen partner Ayotte)
Bike-share is part of the so called "sharing economy" in which individuals avoid burdensome large investments in self owned  software, or consumer objects such as bikes, cars or even houses in favor of leasing, renting or "sharing". Bikeshare allows the user to either not own a bike and still use one, or avoids the schlep of the own bike to work or the errands in the urban core and avoiding the risk of theft of a potentially valuable item. (Bike prices have gone nothing but up). Bewegen and its product were first presented at the Pro Walk-Pro Bike-Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh in 2013. Since then the company has landed a few contracts in US cities including Richmond, VA and Birmingham, AL.
The docking station of Bewegen, touted to be very mobile

Another twist to the car share systems proliferating around the world is the newly announced Lyft and GM collaboration. In the traditional Lyft and Uber model, a car owner "shares" his vehicle by using it parts of the week as a taxi. In the new Lyft/GM model, the car isn't owned at all anymore but offered by GM for a fee or even free to those who want to use it as a driver for Lyft. Obviously, car companies around the world are worried about who will by their products in a time of sharing. Daimler Benz' Car-To-Go and GM's Lyft adventure are attempts to position the companies in the new economy and also prepare for the self driving car.


Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Link: Bewegen
BBJ article
SUN article

Capital Bikeshare in DC