Station-less bike share

Station-less Bike Share

One of the reasons given for not joining bike share schemes is the inconvenience of pick up and drop off points. According to Derrick Ko, Spin founder, “with station-based bike share, you’re limited to where the stations are. From a transportation standpoint, it’s very unnatural.”

According to Co.Exist, Spin launched a station-less bike share scheme this month in Austin and has plans to expand to other cities in the US during 2017. With this system, users can ride any Spin bike they see on the street or if none are in sight they can search for the closest one using the app.  The customer walks to the chosen bike and unlocks it with a code provided by the app. At the end of the trip, the user just needs to lock the bike to any existing rack.

Station-less bike share systems are already common in China and may be a solution for encouraging more people to use this type of transport in other countries.  As is usually the case with transportation, people tend to choose the most convenient alternative, and so the freedom to end the trip closer to one’s destination is definitely an advantage in comparison to traditional station-based bike shares.

The success of this bike share will depend on the number of bikes available and their distribution to ensure there are available bicycles where and when users need them. In addition, in locations where there is already a city bike share program, as is the case in Austin, private companies, such as Spin, need to be aligned with the city policies and plans, as was pointed out by City Lab.

However, docking station location is not always the only way to increase cycling rates. As we already mentioned in the Wayfinding Forum Blog, in Melbourne, 61% of people who don’t use the bike share scheme cited difficulties in finding a helmet or not willing to wear one as the main reason for not cycling. Sydney doesn’t have a bike share scheme yet, but the cycling rates in the city are lower than 2013 levels. Bicycle advocates argue that higher fines and more enforcement, together with poor infrastructure, are the main factors for this scenario.


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From car to transit-centred city

2017.03.06 From car to transit-centred city1

Downtown Seattle has seen a significant job growth, with 45,000 jobs added in the city centre between 2010 and 2016. Considering that the area had already reached almost full street capacity at peak hour, an expansion like that could have substantially worsened the local traffic.

However, a new report released by Commute Seattle shows that, despite the job growth, only 2,344 single occupant car trips to downtown were added since 2010. The other 95% were absorbed by public transport, ridesharing, walking, cycling and teleworking. Transit, which includes bus, rail and ferry, is the mode of transport chosen by 47% of commuters as can be seen in the graph below:

2017.03.06 Seattle Infographic1

It is important to note that cycling remained stable, representing 3% of the commuting, showing that there may be potential to increase other modes of transport as an alternative to driving alone.

According to Commute Seattle, investments such as the expansion of metro lines, light rail and protected bike lanes contributed to the results. In addition, employers played their part by providing infrastructure and incentives for their employees and tenants to choose alternatives mode of transport: “downtown employers invested over $100 million in infrastructure and transportation benefits in 2016”.

The combination of different initiatives resulted in a boost of public transport as the preferred option to reach downtown Seattle:

2017.03.06 Seattle Infographic2

Image source: Unsplash and Commute Seattle


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No parking, no business?

2017.02.28 No Parking, no business

The old saying may need to be updated, at least when considering on-street parking. Last December, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) released research focused on analysing potential impacts of new bike lanes and the reduction of on-street parking on local businesses. TCAT studied the transportation and spending habits of the visitors at the Parkdale neighbourhood which is located 2km from Toronto’s downtown.

It is interesting to observe the misperception of local merchants regarding the travelling mode of their clients; almost half of them believed that 25% of their customers arrived by car. However, in reality, only 4% of the respondents reported driving as their usual mode of transport to the neighbourhood. The majority of the visitors (72%) arrived by bicycle or walking.

Considering the difference between merchants’ perception and reality, it is not surprising that 52% of the local business representatives stated that there wasn’t enough car parking in Parkdale while only 19% of visitors agreed with that. In the same way, visitors were more likely to prefer more bike paths or expanded sidewalks over no change, even if it meant reducing parking spaces. Conversely,  merchants preferred maintaining the current street layout.

In fact, according to the study, local businesses’ best clients were those arriving by active transportation (walking or cycling) as they spent more and visited the area more frequently than the others! Check the results below:

TCAT Infographic

It is not unusual to find local businesses being in fierce opposition of reducing on-street parking whenever that type of plan is presented to a community. As the results obtained in Parkdale indicates, favouring parking isn’t necessarily the best way to improve revenue.

For further information read the article What’s the impact of reducing parking spaces? and check the infographic Fact vs. Fiction parking control kill the retail strip.

Image Credit: David Marcu and TCAT


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Sky cycling

2017.02.21 Cycling Skyway

The world’s longest elevated cycling path opened last month in Xiamen, China. The project was developed eight years after middle school students proposed an aerial bike lane alongside an elevated road.

As reported by Co.Exist, China’s first sky cycling initiative is 7.6 kms long with eleven exit points and has connections with six public transport hubs, providing commuters with a fast and safe alternative to private cars.

The lane can accommodate around 2,000 bikes per hour and even those who don’t own a bike can try it by renting one of the hundreds shared bikes provided on site. To ensure that capacity limits are not surpassed, entry gates are automatically closed when it is full.

Copenhagen launched its elevated cycling paths, Cykelslangen (Cycle Snake), in 2014. It is much smaller than the Chinese development at only 220 metres, but it was designed to resolve a specific issue, according to Wired. In a part of the city where cyclists had trouble riding amongst pedestrians at a waterfront shopping area the skyway was the best alternative benefiting all users.

Cycle Snake, Copenhagen

Cycle Snake, Copenhagen

Last year, Infrastructure Victoria’s report titled “All Things Considered”, proposed the creation of bike highways in Melbourne. According to The Age, the report includes the development of elevated bicycle paths that would provide a safe route for cyclists to ride across and through the city.

Elevated bike lanes provide a safe and fast path for cyclists encouraging commuters to shift from cars to bikes. Despite that, some critics argue that it removes cyclists from the urban space consequently cutting the number of people on the streets similarly to the effect of highways. In addition, this type of infrastructure would segregate cyclists by diminishing their access to shops, cafes, pubs and other public areas. What is your opinion?

Photo Source: The Shangaiist and Danish Architecture Centre


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Strategies to reduce air pollution

Gran Via, Madrid - private cars will be banned to reduce air pollution

Marylebone Road, in Westminster City, was recently named one of the 20 sites in London with very high pollution. As part of the plan to address the issue, the council wants to discourage the use of diesel vehicles by introducing a parking surcharge, as reported by The Telegraph.

Therefore, from April, diesel drivers will pay an extra 50% on top of the regular £4.90 fee to park their cars in the area. In addition, London is making a move to penalise polluting vehicles by introducing the “T-charge”, a toxic levy, later this year. It is expected that the combined surcharges will result in an additional £30.00 to drive and park diesel vehicles in Westminster City Council area.

Madrid already enforces several strategies to address its low air quality levels. Temporary restrictions, such as parking bans, 70km/h speed limits and alternate driving days are applied when the pollution is too high.

However, Madrid’s Mayor, Manuela Carmena, wants a long term solution and plans to ban private cars from the city’s busiest street, the Gran Via, until 2019, according to CityLab. The drastic restriction will affect a significant amount of drivers as the Gran Via is used to cross the city. The solution is to re-route traffic to an external “belt” and creating a pedestrian-friendly area within the city centre.

Until then the greatest challenge will be to convince the public of the benefits of the change. At least the retail sector is already on the Mayor’s side as a result of the positive impacts during a test conducted in last December. During nine days, only buses, taxis and bicycles were allowed in the Gran Via; despite the initial fear that the closure would affect sales by discouraging car-driving customers, the test was a success.

Photo Credit: Business Insider


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Sometimes the car park IS the destination!

2017.01.24 Car Park and Entertainment-002

When you plan to attend an event it’s safe to say that the objective of your trip is not going to be the car park. Normally, car parks are just a stage in a journey whose final destination is the shop, office, venue, etc.

In Adelaide, the VTWO/CyclingTips Carpark Climb event was hosted in a multi-storey car park. The 550m race started at street level and finished on the fifth floor of the car park, according to CyclingTips, with members of the public allocated viewing positions on the parking bays. 120 cyclists used the ramps and traffic lanes as their race course. Viewers encouraged their favourite competitors while also enjoying music and drinks. Watch the video below:

Car parks can sometimes be the right place for culture as well. In Blacktown, a western Sydney suburb, a show about multiculturalism and Australian identity has been performed in a local car park. The location was chosen to bring culture closer to the community. As reported by BBC, actors from different backgrounds provided multiple perspectives on different Australian immigration waves. The play goes through several areas of the car park provoking a rich discussion on local and national cultures. At the end of the performance, everyone enjoyed a communal meal which helped the audience to establish connections between one another.

2017.01.24 Car Park and Entertainment2

In both cases, the garage structure was an important part of the event, showing that sometimes car parks can be the perfect spot for entertainment.

Photo Credit: CyclingTips and BBC.


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Residential Car Sharing

Residential Car Share

Developers are always thinking of different ways to promote new mobility concepts for their projects, adapting designs and features to new technologies and social behaviours. Some of those initiatives have been reported in the Wayfinding Forum Blog, as the car-free office building and the bike apartments. Adding to those examples is a new residential building which has its own car sharing scheme, according to Co.Exist. The Solaire development, in Manhattan, not only has the standard amenities of an upscale apartment building, such as gym and 24-hour concierge, but also offers residents access to the building’s own car sharing fleet.

The partnership between Solaire and BMW’s car share company, ReachNow, provides a bespoke mobility solution for residents giving them access to BMW vehicles, including four electric cars. The feature is designed to attract Millenials who don’t necessarily want to own their private car but want the comfort of an on-demand service.

The semi-private car share scheme provides a great advantage for developers because it reduces the need for parking spaces, which translates into cost reduction; this means an average saving of US$ 34,000 per underground space. In Manhattan, there are no minimum parking requirements for new developments, but in other areas of New York developers are obliged to provide a certain amount of parking. In regions such as New Rochelle, in Westchester County, one car share parking space can replace three private car parking spots.

These new ways of approaching parking are related to changes in how some people perceive car ownership and there is a place for developers willing to target this market.

Photo Credit: ReachNow


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Why engage a parking consultant?


Parking consultants have a specific set of skills and knowledge to evaluate parking scenarios and propose the best solution considering the resources and characteristics of each situation. The International Parking Institute (IPI) highlighted six ways that hiring a parking consultant can save you time and money:

  1. Understanding the big parking (and transportation) picture

A parking consultant can provide you sound advice on design, operations and management. The integrated approach results in a comprehensive analysis of your car park ensuring your customers will have a smooth experience. Engaging a consultant in early design stage can result in more parking spaces, improved drivability and maneuverability, and saving potential costs of fixing parking issues after the construction phase.

  1. Providing a broad, cross-sector perspective

Parking consultants are constantly working in different sectors, solving various types of problems. That experience is used to provide creative answers for your car park, including applying a solution used in a completely different sector to solve your car park problem. For instance, a parking consultant ca identify that an operation scheme used in a hospital can be useful for university parking.

  1. Knowing the latest in parking technology

Being updated is key for a parking consultants and evaluating new technologies and suppliers is part of the job. It is costly to keep internal parking team on top of every new launch. At the same time, parking consultants can rapidly apply their extensive knowledge on technology integration or upgrade, evaluating the pros and cons to recommend the best technology fit.

  1. Taking the heat — so you don’t have to

In some cases, such as changes in the team’s parking privileges, parking involves internal political issues. Parking consultants can be the independent third party helping you implement a delicate measure that otherwise would take a lot of time and effort to happen.

  1. Saving money in the long run

Inputting expert knowledge in evaluating all the costs involved in a new parking facility as well as the financing options can be decisive to not compromise the project’s budget. A parking consultant can also identify cost-effective measures that can be unnoticed by a non-parking professional.

  1. Be your trusted partner as your program evolves

A parking consultant can continuously help you save time and money by reviewing your parking structure and operations on an annual or bi-annual basis. The consultant can indicate maintenance needs, evaluate user patterns and conduct operational audits to maximise the returns on your investment.

Read the full article here.


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Santiago Wins 2017 Sustainable Transport Award


Over the past years, Santiago has faced a great transformation, particularly in the downtown area. The city’s integrated mobility plan focused on improving the way people move around, aiming to improve the equality between the different users which led to less car-centric planning policies.

The plan included the exclusive use of downtown streets for public transport. One of the interventions was in the corridor “Compania-Mercedes”, which has 50,000 people per day traveling in public transport. The changes resulted in 50% reduction of travel time during peak hours.

Another relevant aspect of Santiago’s plan was increasing the size of sidewalks by between 20 and 30% making them more accessible and safer for pedestrians encouraging walking. In addition, there was the coordination amongst 11 municipalities to implement a bike share system promoting the use of bicycles as a mode of transport.

Watch the StreetFilm video featuring an interview with Santiago’s former mayor, Carolina Tohá, and understand the full scope of Santiago’s mobility plan which led the city to win the Sustainable Transport Award from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policies, a global non-profit organization focused on sustainable transport and urban development worldwide.

Our team is flying to Santiago in January for our first project of 2017 and will report their impression on the city’s urban mobility landscape.

Image Credit: StreetFilm


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Share Your Parking Spot


The sharing economy is all around us and is disrupting industries especially by addressing specific consumer’s needs in a more convenient way than the traditional players. Even the parking industry isn’t escaping from it. Last week another parking share app was launched in Australia, more specifically in Coogee and Bondi Beaches.

According to Dynamic Business, Share with Oscar was born after Lisa Qi and Louise Chen had frustrating experiences repeatedly when failing to find a parking spot near Bondi Beach. The start-up founders thought it would be a good idea to develop an app enabling parking spot owners to rent their empty spaces to drivers looking to park. The concept is similar to other peer-to-peer applications such as Airbnb and Uber.

The idea is not new in Australia, with other companies already exploiting empty parking spaces increasing the supply without the need of developing more garages. It is interesting to notice how private initiative is addressing an issue that has been discussed by parking professionals and urban planners. When approaching the parking minimum requirements issue, several professionals agree that in some areas we don’t necessarily need to build more parking spaces or provide more on-street parking, we just need to use the current parking stock in a different way and parking spot sharing apps propose to do that.

These apps help to create a shared culture were private parking spaces are used by general public and setting a mindset where this becomes normal behaviour. Of course safety and security measures must be taken as in most cases the parking garage provides access to other areas in the building; otherwise, the idea might not be totally embraced.

That being said if this new culture is disseminated it could reflect in public policies through the surge of new rules enabling and stimulating the use of private parking by the general public. Finally, it could change the way cities plan their parking supply.

Read our recent related articles: Managing Parking Demand and Supply and Car-free Developments.


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