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Thread: College Park staff recommend non-CaBi bikeshare system

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    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    Default College Park staff recommend non-CaBi bikeshare system

    http://www.diamondbackonline.com/new...c347cd221.html

    (reposted on Greater Greater Washington)

    ...

    Although no bid has been awarded yet, city staff recommended Monday that the City Council choose a Massachusetts-based firm called Zagster, Schum said.

    The next steps will be for the council to vote on awarding the bid — which will take place next Tuesday — and for the city to then enter negotiations with the chosen provider.

    “There’s still a lot of work to be done to finalize the details,” Schum said. “But it’s exciting.”

    Upon launch, which is expected to take place sometime next semester, the bike-share system will follow the initial plan for 125 bikes, 250 docks and 14 stations, Schum said.

    Original plans to move forward with Capital Bikeshare — the company responsible for bike-share systems in Arlington County, Washington, D.C., Montgomery County and Alexandria — were derailed after six months of discussion when the company’s supplier went out of business early last year, Schum said.

    “We were unable to move forward with them because their supplier went into bankruptcy so they couldn’t take any new orders,” Schum said. “We had been negotiating with them for what seemed like forever.”

    As a result, Schum said, time limits on the state grant intended to fund the project forced the city to make other arrangements.


    ...

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    It's not yet a done deal—I know that at least a few CP city council members and several residents are in favor of a CaBi compatible system. The city council meeting is tomorrow; I'll keep an eye out for how things go, and probably end up talking to Our Friends on the Council. While the Council usually follows the recommendations of its planning staff, this isn't universally true. If I recall correctly, the city staff's recommendations were made back when Alta went belly up and a Bixi-style system was not under consideration; we'll see what the Council decides based on current information.

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    I rode my bike to a tailgate last year only to be greeted with signs about campus requiring bike registration. (Needless to say, i didn't register and had no problems locking my bike up to the bike parking). I'm curious about when they're starting the lanes along Rt 1?

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    Campus bike registration is mostly for students/staff/faculty and probably not visitors/community members—I know I lock up at UMD all the time, and have never registered with DOTS. I think I may be right on the edge of "really should register," though, given how often I ride and lock up on campus. Might want to call up BikeUMD and ask about that one...

    Current SHA predictions on when the resurfacing and reconstruction of Route 1 will start is still very preliminary, much to everyone's frustration. To say that the city council, university community, and citizens who are paying attention to these sorts of things are Not Happy with SHA's foot dragging would be something of an understatement—the city missed out on a major federal TIGER grant to underground utilities along Route 1 (which, incidentally, would have allowed more room for bike infrastructure, streetscaping, etc.) because SHA either couldn't or wouldn't get its act together before the application deadline.

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    According to this recent article, College Park signed with Zagster for its bikeshare program. It's expected to launch in January.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local...a97_story.html

    Not sure that January is the best month to open a new bikeshare system, not if they want to build buzz around it. Maybe they want fewer riders at first, to work out operational issues.

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    Interesting that the City of College Park website includes a link to the Capital Bikeshare site, under the Programs and Initiatives/Sustainability category.

    http://www.collegeparkmd.gov/

    I located the notice of the decision on the Zagster deal, but only by digging through search results on the site. The City Council meeting minutes are not easily accessible or organized on the site (unless I'm overlooking something).

    http://www.collegeparkmd.gov/documen...s/090815RM.pdf

    From page 4 of the minutes:

    15-G-100 Award of contract for bikeshare to Zagster, Inc., in an amount not to exceed
    $300,000 for the City-funded portion of the program, subject to review and
    approval by the City Attorney

    A motion was made by Councilmember Kabir and seconded by Councilmember Wojahn
    that a three-year contract for a College Park Bikeshare System be awarded to Zagster, Inc.
    in an amount not to exceed $300,000, contingent on the approval by the University of
    Maryland of a contract with Zagster, Inc. with generally the same terms and conditions,
    and subject to review and approval of contract terms by the City Attorney.


    Councilmember Kabir said this contract represents the city portion of the bikeshare system.
    Zagster, Inc. was one of three firms that responded to a Request for Proposals to provide a
    bikeshare system both on- and off-campus. The City and University have determined that
    Zagster’s proposal is the most responsive, economical and flexible compared to the other
    bidders. It is anticipated that the College Park system will launch in January 2016 with a total of
    125 bikes, 250 docks and 14 stations. Final decisions on station locations, membership rates,
    branding and marketing will be made in conjunction with the University and Zagster.

    Comments from the audience:
    Dave Dorsch, 4607 Calvert Road:
    $300,000 is a lot of money. Why do we have to pay them
    to come to the City when they charge for the bikes? We should be asking how much they are
    going to pay us. Why do we have to subsidize it? We pay for road infrastructure but bicyclists
    pay zero. It is outrageous to spend taxpayer money to bring bikeshare to the City.

    Councilmember Kabir clarified that whoever wants to use the bike will have to pay for it. Ms.
    Schum said we hope the system will pay for itself, but someone has to initiate it and own it; it is
    typical that governments do so. In this case, it will be the City and the University.

    Councilmember Wojahn said that transportation infrastructure is subsidized and that if we want
    our transportation system to work effectively we need to invest in it.

    The motion passed 8 – 0 – 0.

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    Note the usual objection from an audience member, that cyclists don't pay for road infrastructure and that it's "outrageous" to spend taxpayer money on bikeshare.

    A councilmember pointed out that transportation infrastructure is subsidized. I think he should have emphasized that ALL transportation infrastructure and EVERY transportation mode is heavily subsidized, including car driving.

    In any case, the council passed the motion by a unanimous 8-0 vote.
    Last edited by PotomacCyclist; 11-29-2015 at 04:36 PM.

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    I had only heard of Zagster in passing before. It seems that the bikes incorporate Kryptonite locks that are unlocked through a mobile app or a text message. The main docking stations do not have locking mechanisms, only racks for the bike locks.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zagste...ke_Station.jpg

    According to the Wikipedia page, the company has bikeshare contracts with a few cities, some large companies and several universities.

    I'll have to look up reviews about their bikeshare systems, and how this works in reality. Because the bikes can be locked up away from the stations, does this mean their stations are more likely to be empty? Are those bikes more susceptible to theft, because of the external and accessible locks? Is the system effective overall? Better or worse than Bixi-style bikeshare, or about the same?

    Their website suggests that Zagster systems can complement docking station bikeshare set-ups like CaBi: http://zagster.com/blog/why-zagster-...-a-bike-share/

    I think at some point it would be nice for College Park/UMD to join Capital Bikeshare, whether or not they continue with the Zagster deal. Perhaps CP/UMD do join CaBi in three years, after the Zagster deal expires. Bike infrastructure might be better between CP and surrounding communities by that time. I can see some benefits for Zagster in a campus setting, but there are also potential downsides, such as not knowing where bikes are, if stations aren't as important in that system. CP bikeshare users would not be able to use CaBi elsewhere in the DC area without signing up for a separate CaBi membership. If Prince George's goes ahead with plans to add bikeshare at Greenbelt, then a future CP/UMD CaBi system could make even more sense.

    Maybe UMD doesn't think that the students travel off campus enough so that the incompatible bikeshare systems are not a major issue. I don't have any insight into this so I'm not making a judgment on that call. Just wondering about how the CP/UMD bikeshare plan will work.

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    From the meeting in Greenbelt (the place, not the poster...though he was there too), the deal is that CP gets 3 years for the price of 1 if they go with Zagster. Alta Bikeshare was in the process of going bankrupt during the bid process (they got bought by Motivate/REQX Ventures afterwards, but too late to submit a bid; while there was some talk of reopening the process to allow the now solvent Motivate to bid, that never happened), so they weren't considered.

    In discussion, it seems like this may be—emphasis on the "may"—something like a stopgap/low-risk pilot program. CaBi needs to expand outward into Woodridge, North Michigan Park, Mount Rainier, and Brentwood; a few crucial trail connections and wayfinding networks (Cafritz development, Route 1 between Franklin's and NEBranch, Arundel Road) need to be developed, and College Park itself needs a bit more density before CaBi can really take off. The Zagster system has the advantages of being easily moved, easily changed, and a bit more flexible. It may be three years before CP really has to worry about connectivity with the wider CaBi system; when that day comes, they'll have learned a few things from this program.

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    FYI - Bixi went bankrupt, not Alta. Bixi was a supplier/contractor for Alta. I don't believe Alta was ever in any immediate danger of going bankrupt. But Alta did sell off their bikeshare division to REQX. That was renamed Motivate.

    I biked around College Park last week, for the first time ever. Doesn't the University have over 37,000 students (undergrad and grad) plus more than 9,000 staff? 46,000+ people concentrated in a geographically small city, with most of them under the age of 30. That would seem to be enough to support a CaBi outpost. Wouldn't it?

    I know the Purple Line is supposed to include a paved trail extension between Bethesda and downtown Silver Spring. Are there plans to have any bike trails along the Purple Line east of Silver Spring, into College Park? It's a bit of a hike. Most casual cyclists should be able to handle that distance (about 5-6 miles?), but it might just be far enough where most people wouldn't bike the trip. I'd also guess that most people wouldn't bike from College Park to downtown DC, especially on a slower CaBi bike. Are there are any really popular bike traffic routes in the general area, other than within the main campus, and between the campus and the Metro station? Is there a lot of bike traffic between the campus and Greenbelt?

    I'll be interested to hear how successful the Zagster program is, and whether CP and UMD decide to join CaBi in a few years (in place of or in complement to the Zagster program).

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