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World Streets . Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: Great idea but what next?. Eric Britton , EMBARQ, Cuernavaca, 2 July 2009 . New Mobility Partnerships – www.newmobility.org World Streets – The voice of sustainable transportation

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Public bikes in latin american cities great idea but what next l.jpg

World Streets

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities:

Great idea but what next?

Eric Britton , EMBARQ, Cuernavaca, 2 July 2009

New Mobility Partnerships – www.newmobility.org

World Streets – The voice of sustainable transportation

Europe: 8/10 rue Joseph Bara, 75006 Paris,  France.  

USA: 9440 Readcrest Dr. Los Angeles, CA  90210   


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Author’s introduction

This presentation was made to a strategy session organized by the EMBARQ program of the World Resources Institute that took place in Cuernavaca Mexico on 2 July 2009. I was asked specifically to report on the role that public or shared bike systems might eventually play in Latin American cities. There has been considerable interest shown by politicians, some planners and transporters, public interest groups (mainly cyclists of course) and the media across the region over the last year or so. But how to move ahead with a concept which until now has been largely successful in European cities, under circumstances on the ground that differ considerably in most cases. This presentation represents my attempt to plant a few seeds.

Eric Britton

New Mobility Partnerships and World Streets

Paris, 2 July 2009

Eric Britton

New Mobility Partnerships and World Streets

Paris and Los Angeles

Author checking his hot air

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


In brief l.jpg
In brief:

  • Why bikes in cities?

  • And public bikes?

  • Short history of PBS – time line

  • Shared bikes today – Worldwide, and by region

  • Planning and decision checklists

  • Criteria for success

  • Alternative approaches

  • Reinventing the public bike for LA cities

  • Now what?

  • The planner’s challenge

Pointing the way

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Challenges of transport in cities? (And whatever are those?)

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Bikes are important, because they offer . . .

  • High quality, no-wait O/D transport

  • Economical for users

  • Lost cost to public sector

  • Excellent environmental impacts

  • Takes pressure off the transit system

  • Public health benefits

  • Increase city amenity and neighborly behavior

  • Because they are democratic

  • Because they simulate new thinking & inspire new approaches

  • And because they are cool

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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What’s a Public Bike?

  • Day to day city transportation by shared (public) bicycles

  • Open to all registered users/clients.

  • Bikes located in on-street stations (i.e., not garaged)

  • Pick up/drop off at multiple locations within service area

  • Fully automated check-out/check-in service

  • Available 24/7.

  • Free or almost free for very short periods

  • Implementable with many different variants

  • It is, in fact, a true form of “automobility.”

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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The Public Bike Tsunami: Some highpoints, 1966 - 2009

  • 1966 – Amsterdam White Bikes (Netherlands)

  • 1973 – La Rochelle Vélos Jaunes (France)

  • 1996 – Copenhagen Bycyklen (Denmark)

  • 1998 – Rennes Vélo à la Carte (France)

  • 2002 – DB Berlin Call-a-Bike (Germany)

  • 2003 – Citybike Wien Vienna (Austria)

  • 2004 – Dutch Rail OV-fiets (Netherlands)

  • – Lyon Vélo’v (France)

  • 2005 – Chivasso Bicincittà (Italy)

  • 2007 – Paris Vélib’ (France)

  • – Barcelona (Spain)

  • – Seville SEVici (Spain)

  • – Montreal BiXi (Canada)

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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A genuine new urban transport mode

“Very quickly, we have moved from being a curiosity to a genuine new urban transport mode. We invented the public/individual transport system.”

- Gilles Vesco, Vice-president, Grand Lyon,

on his city’s experience with Vélo’v

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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World Wide Bikesharing – The big picture, July 2009

Green = go.And ? = ?

Source: MetroBike/Google

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Bike-sharing in Europe

Edited copy of Paul's PBS map

The original Bikeshare project

White Bikes, Amsterdam, 1967

Source: MetroBike/Google

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Bike-sharing in North America

Look at all those question marks.

Source: MetroBike/Google

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Bike-sharing in Latin America

Edited copy of Paul's PBS map

Source: MetroBike/Google

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Bicycle modal share in selected European cities

Protected cycling

Source: Cycling in the Netherlands 2009

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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City cycling trends – International comparisons

Cycling as daily transport for all

Source: Cycling in the Netherlands 2009

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Common Public Bike Features

Add a new dimension to urban mobility

Extend and complete range of public transport services

Integrate the options into a seamless multimodal package

Available on-demand

For city-length journeys.

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Multiple advantages and benefits

Provide cost-effective on-demand transportation

Huge environmental and public benefits

Reach out to destinations un- or under-served by other transit modes

Require less infrastructure than other modes of transportation

Inexpensive to produce and maintain

Do not add to traffic congestion

Do not create pollution in their operation

Improve cycling safety by increasing number of cyclists on the street

Cut back on theft of personal bicycles

Provide users with the added benefit of healthy exercise.

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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The bottom line for your city

City Bikes work! Get the planning right and your project is going to be a success.

Low cost: Your City Bike project is not going to gut your transport budget.

Fast on line: Planning and implementation time for a large city may range from one to two years, max. For well prepared smaller cities considerably less.

High synergies: Good project will provide strong synergies with your public transport and traffic control /restraint programs.

Revitalizing the center: Remember what excessive dependence on cars did to your central city the last time? Well, city bikes provide a means for restoring the center.

Lots of ways of doing it: We strongly recommend youhave a close look at all available choices.

Partners: Numerous viable partners with whom you can work to ensure your project’s success

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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A public bike? But it’s not just one more pretty bike project.

Rather it’s a . . .

  • Significant public transport project in its own right.

  • A roads and infrastructure project of some dimensions.

  • A city center economic development/revival project.

  • A social project that works to tie people together in soft ways

  • A public health project in a time of need.

  • A climate project for your city that can make a difference.

  • A nudge to changing the minds of planners, the public &the media

  • A 21st century exercise in deep democracy & active citizenry.

This is the true nature, scale and range of your public bike project. And this is your opportunity. But are you really ready for it?

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


Not just one more pretty bike project rather it s a l.jpg
Not just one more pretty bike project. Rather it’s a . . .

Comprehensive, integrated, complex physical/logistics system

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Not just one more pretty bike project. Rather it’s a . . .

Complex, ubiquitous, social system that knits people together

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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What kind of shared bike project for you?

  • Full-scale Paris, Barcelona, Lyon, Seville style city bike project?

    (Operational services with thousands of bikes blanketing the city)

  • Comprehensive small city system: ex. Orleans, Dijon , Brescia?

    (Hundreds of bikes with good area coverage)

  • Transit node service: Berlin, Frankfurt,?

    (Hundreds of bikes focusing on main transit/rail nodes)

  • City “learner system” such as Brussels, Washington DC?

    (Characteristically hundred or so bikes serving a limited zone)

  • Tourist/Visitor service: More than 50, from N. to S. of Europe?

    (Small fleets of bikes to encourage tourist movements during their visit)

  • Campus shared bike project ?

    (As many as several hundreds of bikes serving a specific area/group)

* Each of these are radically different in just about all key respects. Our main focus here today is on full scale city bike projects.

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Confirming the role of cycling, walking & public space

  • After decades of neglect

  • Reaching beyond the boundaries of long entrenched car-based transport planning and investment approaches

  • Opening up new questions and new possibilities in a high profile manner

  • Changing the public & political discourse

  • Engaging citizens of all ages & social classes

  • Drawing in the media in new ways

  • Transforming the city and daily lives

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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For public bike project success, ask yourself . . .

  • Is your city’s topography adapted to bike use?

  • What about the weather?

  • Is necessary (critical!) supporting infrastructure in place?

  • Extent, density and quality of public transit coverage?

  • Land use/Activity mix/ Are there places to go in service area?

  • Is your city government 100% behind this project?

  • Do they fully appreciate the full dimensions of the challenge?

  • Is it understood that this is a full-scale public transportation project . . . and (not just one more nice bike project )

  • Vandalism? Bike thefts? Public attitudes to public facilities?

  • And what about . . . street maintenance levels, police support, driver attitudes and training, public attitudes to cycling/cyclists . . .

  • Degree of city’s continuing commitment to sustainable development?

Checking in for the 1st time

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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More challenges/criteria for success

  • Job creation and skills development opportunities?

  • Road maintenance?

  • Vandalism/bike thefts, public attitudes to public facilities?

  • Commitment to, capacity for law enforcement?

  • Driver attitudes and skill levels

  • What about that on-street outdoor advertising?

  • Are we up to the deep communications, negotiation challenges?

  • Cycle clubs, environmental and support groups?

  • Capacity for working with public/private partnerships?

  • So, what’s our business plan?

  • Now, where do we go next?

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Alternatives to a full scale city bike project

  • Are we too small for a city-wide PBS?

  • Is it too early for us to face the full challenges involved.

  • What about a project aimed at tourists and visitors, as opposed to a more ambitious public transport project ?

  • Campus shared bike projects?

  • Strategies for demo or pilot projects?

  • Can these serve as “starter projects”

  • Growing your small project.

Shared bikes at St. Xavier Univ. in Chicago

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Some closing thoughts

  • Safe cycling provision. Are you really up for it in your city?

  • Caveat: Injuries and deaths of cyclists are the direct accountability of the city authority!!!

  • What about a “Street Code” for your city?

  • Business model? (Remember this is a new field)

  • Financing strategies? (Lots of options there)

  • Identify and work with all qualified suppliers

  • Supplier/partner selection

  • Phased negotiation with your new partner

  • Contractual sticks – but don’t forget the carrots

  • Planning for the long term

  • Getting time on your side

  • Next stage expansion strategies

It takes a bit of work to get there

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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My best suggestions for PBS development in Latin America.

  • Every city in region should be encouraged/helped to carry out a careful (public) bicycle survey?

    • Such a survey, well done, will lead to many new visions and ideas

    • In most cases, will show city not (yet) ready for PBS, but

    • Will yield many valuable clues for new sustainable transition policies

  • Would help greatly to have some good “templates”

    • Detailed guidelines to assist the city teams in doing this well

    • + access to supporting information and counsel via the web

  • Expert workshops could be very useful:

    • First and ASAP in a cycle of major LA cities – with high visibility

    • Then possibly as national workshops

    • Bring in international experts with hands-n experience

    • Welcome supplier participation

  • What kind of support to pioneering cities?

  • Where to start? We need some strong examples in the region?

  • When to start? Why, this morning, of course.

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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What will the first great Latin America PBS look like?

  • NOT like the mainline European examples

  • And Not like what we are seeing in the US

  • Will be tailored to the realities and priorities of Latin American cities

  • Will strategically substitute people for technology (surprise)

  • Will combine job creation and training, aiming to create employment and social integration possibilities for the young

  • Will be planned in deeply democratic, highly strategic, wide open manner

    • Bring in as active players full range of all public groups and interests in city and region

    • Will specially target , try to integrate all groups/interests that a priori are against

    • Will invite all potential suppliers to join discussions from the beginning

    • Will bring on board international participants with hands-on experience

  • Will be a matter of enormous pride of the city as a whole

  • Will bring the media on board from the beginning

  • And be 100% ready to roll on Day 1.

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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The planner’s challenge

  • The great weakness of most PBS projects to date has been the result of utterly insufficient depth of knowledge on the part of the local plan team.

  • The challenge is being consistently underestimated. So almost every project is repeating the same fundamental errors.

  • To give you a first module, we estimate that at least several hundred hours of in-depth research, contacts with suppliers and successful cities are necessary just to be able to start to understand the issues and trade-offs for planning and policy purposes.

  • Google and its extensions are a nice help to get you started, but they are, let’s guess, less than 10% of what you need to do and know. What to do about the remaining 90?

  • A few days in a city with a successful project is barely a beginning. You are going to have to simulate at least 100 use cycles yourself to appreciate the user perspective.

  • Without direct collegial access to at least three qualified suppliers, you are not going to have the depth of insight needed for your project.

  • Likewise for in-depth contacts with cities with successful implementations

  • The critical factor is your full understanding of the benefits a project brings. This is a demanding technical exercise, but without it you will never get the scale right.

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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Why one citizen likes his public bike

  • Because they accomplish an important job for all

  • And they are fair (democratic, classless transportation)

  • Because they are nimble and fast

  • And there when/where you need them (or almost always)

  • Because they are free (almost always)

  • And let you chose where and how

  • They offer a nice little workout for the sedentary city dweller

  • They make you more aware of the weather (i.e., life)

  • Certainly the best way to see your city

  • They are social, invite eye to eye contact

  • People often help out each other at stations

  • Small mutual compromises with pedestrians and motorists

  • The slight question of uncertainty (available bike, parking slot)

  • Because you can ways find a work-around for it.

  • They make you smart (because you have to keep thinking)

  • The provide potentially good transition jobs for young people

  • And when you are on a bike in the city, you belong

A typical Parisian transferring from shared-Metro to shared-bike

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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New Mobility Partnerships: 2009 - 2012

  • For latest versions of this presentation:

  • English language version at:

  • * http://tinyurl.com/ws-embarq-ppt

  • Spanish language version at:

  • * (perhaps to follow?)

  • To join discussions of this presentation:

  • * (To follow on World Streets)

Pointing the way to New Mobility

Europe: The Commons, EcoPlan International

8/10 rue Joseph Bara 75006 Paris, France

+ 331.4326.1323 [email protected]

Skype: ericbritton SightSpeed.com: ericbritton

North America: New Mobility Partnerships

9440 Readcrest Dr.  Los Angeles CA  90210

+1 310 601-8468 [email protected]

Skype: newmobility SightSpeed.com: newmobility

* An article on bad PBS planning appeared in World Streets on 11 May 2009. Maybe worth a read.

World Streets – The sustainable transport dailyInsights and discussion points from leading thinkers and practitioners around the world. Pick it up this morning at http://www.worldstreets.org

Public Bikes in Latin American Cities: What next?


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