January 1, 2008

Bill the Billboards

According to this article in The Tyee, Councillor Peter Ladner would like to introduce bike-sharing a la Velib to Vancouver.

In Paris, a single company is footing the bill in exchange for exclusive rights to the city’s more than 1,600 billboards.

That company is JCDecaux which now goes under the name of CBS Outdoor Media, and has a similar, albeit less lucrative deal with Vancouver involving bus shelters and street furniture.

“I’d love to see it so that we wouldn’t have to spend any public money on it, and it would be entirely self-supporting and somebody would look after it all for us, just like we do with the bus shelters,” said Ladner who has spoken to JCDecaux about expanding their operations in Vancouver to include bicycles.

“They’d love to do it, but they don’t know quite how we’d pay for it. They might come back and say you’re gonna have to let us build this many billboards and then we’d have some pretty tough decisions to make,” he said, pointing out that Vancouver doesn’t have a 1,600-billboard bargaining chip and people might not be so keen on having more giant ads around.

It seems to me we do have a chip: the 1,600 existing billboards.  They make money because they have access to eyes travelling in the public realm.  They make money because of the City’s acceptance of their intrusion.

In fact, most cities in Metro don’t allow billboards.  The City at any point could make them illegal, and put in place a phase-out time after the current leases expire.  Why not, instead, put in place a surcharge to fund the Velib program – a public benefit that justifies the private benefit?

After years of frustrated hopes of bringing bicycle schemes to Vancouver, Ladner has no stated preference for the model the city may adopt. With one stipulation: “I’d like to see something that works.”

 This would.

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Bike-sharing systems are gaining momentum: at least 75 cities have implemented similar systems, with many more cities in various stages of research and development. In July 2007 Paris unveiled the most ambitious system to date and now has 20,600 bicycles at 1451 docking stations – one every 300 meters.
Will it work in Vancouver? 
TransLink has started to do the research, and they’re asking for help.  If you go to this link, you’ll find a spreadsheet with every city involved in bike sharing.  If you’d like to add something, you can sign in or register with Google, get an invitation to contribute, and add comments.  (Seems a bit convoluted to me, but I suppose it helps with quality control.)
Interestingly, TransLink has hopped aboard a blog – here – devoted to bike sharing to get the word out. 

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December 9, 2007

Another mayor is calling for a bike sharing scheme a la Lyon and Paris.

Brisbane to get free bikes

Sophie Elsworth From: The Courier-Mail
December 09, 2007
FREE bicycle hire around the city could be introduced to Brisbane commuters and tourists next year.
Lord Mayor Campbell Newman is concerned about ongoing traffic pollution and congestion in the city, and hopes to introduce a public bike-hire system like those in some European cities.
“I hope that once people see how easy it is to get around the city by bike they’ll start thinking about using the car less for those quick trips down to the shops and other short journeys,” he said yesterday.
Click here to read the full article on the website

What was once at the fringe is now at the centre.
Thanks to Peter Berkeley in Brisbane.

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IanWasson, the urban-design planner in Burnaby, sent along a rendering of the Busby-designed bike bridge for one of their urban trails.  Detail here.  He also noted that another bridge was on its way – this one designed by Patkau Architects, award-winning architects in this region.  They were doing up a design for the Winston Overpass along the Central Valley Greenway, but it hadn’t yet been appoved.
Good news: it has.  And here’s what it looks like.

Architectural concept by Patkau Architects Inc.

Engineering and Project Management by Delcan

Landscape Architecture by PWL Partnership

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November 26, 2007

Peter Berkeley, the bike guy from Brisbane, is in a good mood these days.  Here’s why:

“Kevin Rudd (the newly elected PM of Oz) is my local federal member, and Shayne Sutton (in red) who is my local city councillor and switched on to the value of cycling, worked for Kevin years ago and is good friends.
“The photo is from Ride to Work in 2006. “

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Two good pieces in yesterday’s New York Times.  Tom Friedman writes from India, where last week …

I was driving through downtown Hyderabad and passed the dedication of a new overpass that had taken two years to build. A crowd was gathered around a Hindu priest in a multicolored robe, who was swinging a lantern fired by burning coconut shells and praying for safe travel on this new flyover, which would lift traffic off the streets below.

The next morning I was reading The Sunday Times of India when my eye caught a color photograph of total gridlock, showing motor scooters, buses, cars and bright yellow motorized rickshaws knotted together. The caption: “Traffic ends in bottleneck on the Greenlands flyover, which was opened in Hyderabad on Saturday. On day one, the flyover was chockablock with traffic, raising questions over the efficacy of the flyover in reducing vehicular congestion.”

Friedman thinks India might want to avoid our mistakes (which, with mass-production of a $2,500 car, they clearly don’t intend to do).  
Suggests Sunita Narain of New Delhi’s Center for Science and Environment:

“I am simply asking for many more buses and bus lanes — a complete change in mobility. Because if we get the $2,500 car we will not solve our mobility problem, we will just add to our congestion and pollution problems.”
Charge high prices for parking, charge a proper road tax for driving, deploy free air-conditioned buses that reach every corner of the city, expand the existing beautiful Delhi subway system, “and then let the market work,” she added.

Helpful advice, no?  The whole column is here.
The other piece – a video, actually – discusses Portland’s bike economy.  Yes, cycling is now considered part of the economy.

You can find the video here.   With related article here.

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It’s a cliche, I know, but sometimes you can tell a Tipping Point has been reached.

It seems to be happening – not for the first time – on the streets of Paris, where the ‘Velorution’ has taken over with astonishing speed. Here’s another description from the pages of Spiegel:

Paris has suddenly become the world capital of bike rentals. Nowhere else in the world has quite so many rental bikes standing at the ready: there will soon be over 20,000. And the fleet is really being put to use: commuters pedal from the Metro to the office, managers pop out in their lunch breaks to pick up groceries, tourists zigzag in every direction. More than six million rides have been clocked up in just three months — there is hardly a faster way to get through the legendary tangle of the French capital.
What the French call “la Vilorution” was launched on July 15 this year and it was an advertising company that came up with the idea.
Full article here.

The onus has shifted: why wouldn’t a city implement such a system?  I know Vancouver is looking at it – but if we don’t have something in place by the Olympics, we can hardly pretend that we take ‘green’ seriously, that we have any real pretense to being a sustainable city.

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I’m working on a couple of presentations in the Bay Area this week – so blogging will be spotty.
I’ll pass on some of the fun stuff I get – like this article from the Times of London on the impact of Paris’s le velib:

If you are on the hunt for love in Paris, forget cafés and art galleries and rent a bicycle instead. Residents and visitors have found that the city’s new self-service bike scheme offers the best chance of flirting with strangers.
The emergence of a two-wheeled mating service has been one of several unintended consequences of the runaway success of le Vélib’, the sturdy grey bicyclettes that the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, unleashed on the streets in mid-July.

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From Councillor Peter Ladner’s newsletter:

U-Bike everywhere:

The Lyon/Paris model of thousands of rental bikes placed in electronically-linked racks around the city for registered users has grabbed the imagination of other cities around the world. Cycling trips in Lyon jumped 95% in the two years since it was instituted, all paid for by JCDecaux (an earlier name for CBS Outdoor Media, the same company that does our street furniture and bus shelters) in return for street advertising.

I’m bringing a motion to TransLink to get it going here.

Great idea.  I wish we had included it in the original call for proposals.

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A street design that has been used in cities in Europe but never in New York City:

The city is planning to remake seven blocks of Ninth Avenue in Chelsea into what officials are billing enthusiastically, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, as the street of the future.
The most unusual aspect of the design, which will run from 16th Street to 23rd Street, is that it uses a lane of parked cars to protect cyclists from other traffic.
It does this by placing the bike lane directly next to the sidewalk on the western edge of Ninth Avenue, which is the left side of the street for those facing north, in the direction of traffic. The plan also takes a lane from cars, creating more room for pedestrians and for the bicycle lane.
Full story here.  Thanks to Ron Richings.

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