Are we going to see more high-tech bicycles in the current bike sharing systems?
This year we should certainly keep track on the Cykel DK. The Danish high-tech bike sharing system should reach its full potential 1800 bikes and between 65 and 135 stations- by late 2014.
In October 2013 Denmark witnessed an important upgrade of the bicycles in their bike-sharing system: Cykel DK. A technological change in the bicycles has the potential to improve significantly the quality of the service, encourage intermodality and to increase accessibility.
Cykel DK – the company managing the bike-sharing system- has launched a new generation of bicycles that incorporate 2 new key elements: a screen and an electric motor.
These features would provide the user an overall improved experience by providing quicker access to the bicycle, route planning, information about public transit to plan a better commuting experience, additionally information about local shops or venues is also retrievable.
In this case, Cykel DK and DSB have declared that the users that they are willing to serve are: commuters, tourists, firms and citizens in general. To those already using public transport it provides the opportunity to finish their “last mile” by bike. They can book the bike in advance via smartphone to avoid delays. For tourist or people unfamiliar with some region of the city it provides guidance through its GPS function. In hilly places or during long commutes, the user can select to use the bike as an electrical bike to make it easier.
This bike-sharing system is serving the cities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg in Denmark. However, I believe it could have a greater potential in those cities were commuters are reluctant to leave their cars. This bicycle can offer those features where cars stand out, as an available seat and flexibility in the route and on top of it the passenger gets valuable information to customize the trip to their need (fastest route, transit schedules, closest restaurant, supermarket, etc…). This bike has the potential to eliminate the stigmatization of transport modes like public transport and cycling.
Where is the innovation?
The fact that it incorporates a GPS and it provides real-time data on the public transport builds up on the bike-sharing systems advantages.
It could provide customized routes, for instance according to bike-user proficiency, speed preference, mixed land use areas, green areas or residential use areas, less congested routes or even suggest an adequate route combined with a public transport hub to arrive faster.
Additionally the bike provides real-time information about available spaces to return the bicycle.
Moreover, the bicycle can be used as an electrical powered bicycle, which allowed longer rides, provides comfort to senior citizens and can be useful in hilly cities. It is said to be a neutral emissions bicycle.
The new included features make the bike-sharing users’ ride more entertaining, better connected to transit, better informed, less exhausting, more pleasant and less troubled when finding a parking place.
How can this innovation impact the service?
We should observe the benefits in different stages.
This decreases the user discomfort when arriving to a station just to find out that there are no more bicycles available and s/he would have to wait.First, the bikes can be located online via website or smartphone and even reserve one bike to make sure you will have one when arriving to the station.
Waiting time in transportation has long been documented as a great burden when evaluating the travel experience as a whole. Decreasing uncertainty and waiting times can improve the over
The fact that the user can unlock the bicycle directly on the bike, eliminates the potential waiting time that could be spend waiting for another user to use the machine to get a bike.all user’s perception of a system.
Providing the rider the opportunity to plan their routes under the conditions they feel more confortable with can encourage even those not so familiar with the city, or those willing to explore it. Moreover it has the potential to create a better urban fabric by letting the user know of interesting places on the way and potentially enco
urage her/him exploring new areas.
The real-time information about the trains’
schedules can certainly foster intermodality. If the information available would include the schedule from all the available services in the cities (trams, metro, commuter rail and bus) it could even better adapt to the rider needs. This can be done using Google GTFS transit feed that compiles stops, Routes, stop times, calendar, frequencies, transfers and fare information, among others.
Finally, this bike incorporates a small motor that allows the user to ride this bike as an electrical bicycle, decrease the effort needed over long distances or hilly surfaces. This element can benefit senior citizens or users that felt that cycling require a great physical effort.
The DSB’s (Denmark’s national railway system) users could certainly benefit from this innovation by finishing their trip in a sustainable manner on the bike sharing system bicycles. Moreover, it can certainly attract those commuters reluctant to leave their car due to the added functionalities, comfort, flexibility and data shaped to their trip needs.
The environmental sustainability of the innovation is without a question, since it aims to promote sustainable urban transport over cars, which implies a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, pollutants, noise and other externalities associated to the use of car. In the social aspect, it provides the opportunity for longer commutes for everybody including those that do not have access to a car or the senior citizens who might find using a regular bike challenging. This mode can ideally serve those communities that currently do not have mass rapid transit. By reducing the car use the streets get safer and more human. The riders are encouraged to explore the services and goods possibilities in the city helping the local business and the social fabric. Moreover, it encourages doing physical activity that has a positive impact on health.Is it sustainable?
Cykel DK could potentially decrease the current commuting cost associated to car ownership and parking expenses.
In the financial aspect, in initial investment was done by the interested authorities. However, I believe that pairing up a holistic approach with travel demand management tools would be an adequate strategy. If other less sustainable transport modes reveal their true cost and sustainable modes are made irresistible available, the offer can be feasible.
Bicycles have been in recent years seen as a potential solution to congestion and inefficient public transport. The integration function that is included in this bicycle, paired up with adequate planning strategies can effectively position bicycles as a viable solution.
Denmark introduced this system as a flagship to demonstrate commitment to the bicycle as a transport mode. However, this has greater potential on precisely those countries that have long stigmatized the bicycle.
Due to the many advantages it offers and synchronized with strategies to reveal the true cost of private vehicles (parking restrictions, environmental zones, congestion charging, car-free zones, etc.…). This innovation could easily be replicated because many cities are already familiar with the bike-sharing systems.
However, international experiences may also suggest that strong regulation is required regarding speed when using the bicycle in its electrical mode. Some others have declared that the screen might be too much of a distraction when navigation, but sure some speakers and a great design job can work out a safer commute.
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