The Chainlink

Can CDOT build a bike share system with a membership that reflect's Chicago's diversity?

Bike sharing programs have great potential to broaden the demographics of cycling because they eliminate the need to purchase, store and maintain a bike, plus fear of theft. But so far in U.S. cities like Denver and Washington, D.C., bike share has been used largely by white, affluent, well-educated males. CDOT deputy commissioner Scott Kubly says he is committed to creating a bike share system here that serves all Chicagoans, including people of color and low-income individuals. He recently discussed some of his strategies to address this challenging issue:
http://gridchicago.com/2012/bike-share-not-white-share-can-chicagos...


Keep moving forward,

John Greenfield

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"... flat-proof tires"? who is your fact checker John? :)

Let me double-check this. I thought I heard that Chicago's bikes would feature airless tires, which are literally flat-proof, as was the case with Long Beach's bike share program: http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/long-beach-announces-bike-sharing-p...

However I see that Bixi bikes in Toronto, the same type we're getting, feature heavy-duty tires filled with nitrogen so they lose air less quickly: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/taking-a-ride-on-boriss-hot-wheels-h...

I'll check in with CDOT and get back to you.

Thanks John. Airless on already heavy three speeds could make for a pretty pokey ride. 

These bikes are definitely made for comfort, not speed, but weight isn't as much of an issue as you'd think for short trips on flat Chicago streets. Bike educator Dave "Mr Bike" Glowacz uses airless tires on his daily commuter bike and swears by them.

Tony,


Got this response from Scott Kubly, CDOT's deputy director:

"[The tires] are air filled with regular air.  But very heavy duty."

Not sure where they're going to get this heavy-duty air.  ; )

Cheers,

John

Chicago specialized in "heavy-duty" air back in the days of steel mills and stockyards.  Now our air is "industrial light."

Truly.  Back in the 1970s, that "heavy-duty" air over industrial areas came in sludgy colors like dark brown, gray and black.  I won't even attempt to describe the scents.

Bill Savage said:

Chicago specialized in "heavy-duty" air back in the days of steel mills and stockyards.  Now our air is "industrial light."

Nitrogen? Interesting.  I found the Bixi ride to be consistently cushy when I tried the Toronto bikes.

John Greenfield said:

Let me double-check this. ...

However I see that Bixi bikes in Toronto, the same type we're getting, feature heavy-duty tires filled with nitrogen so they lose air less quickly: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/taking-a-ride-on-boriss-hot-wheels-h...

I'll check in with CDOT and get back to you.

Thanks for looking into that John.

I had the impression that nitrogen in tires is a scam anyway. Our air, be it heavy duty, light duty or whatever is already a bit over 78% nitrogen when it goes through our humble bike pumps and into our regular old tires. I can't see that altering the other 12% of the air in a tire would make that much difference.  As always I'd be happy to be proven wrong. 


Anne Alt said:

Nitrogen? Interesting.  I found the Bixi ride to be consistently cushy when I tried the Toronto bikes.

John Greenfield said:

Let me double-check this. ...

However I see that Bixi bikes in Toronto, the same type we're getting, feature heavy-duty tires filled with nitrogen so they lose air less quickly: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/taking-a-ride-on-boriss-hot-wheels-h...

I'll check in with CDOT and get back to you.

I think building a successful bike share program is a huge undertaking.  Adding a diversity component to it... even larger undertaking.  I cannot think of any time that Chicago has had success instituting diversity.

Very true Juan. It's tough enough to make a bike share program work, and it would be much easier to do so if they only put the kiosks in dense, affluent areas where there are already plenty of people who'd want to use them. Making the system work in low-income areas will be even more challenging, but a bike share system that only serves a narrow demographic can't be considered a complete success.

One department where underserved neighborhoods definitely seem to be getting their fair share of facilities is protected bike lanes. A high percentage of the miles of PBLs are going in on the South and West sides. Of course, one reason for this is because there are lots of wide roads in these areas where it's easy to install the lanes, but CDOT is also making a concerted effort to do a fair distribution.

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