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Archive for the ‘Bike Infrastructure’ Category

On August 2, the city announced a significant expansion of the Toronto bike share network, with 70 new stations and 700 new bikes funded by a combination of federal, provincial and municipal funds. What was even more exciting was that the network would be expanded outside the downtown core. The city provided a map where the new stations were shown in green.EXPANSION-MAP

You can see from the map that there is a significant expansion in the west end with several stations in Ward 13, along with many in the neighbouring Wards 14 and 18. Particularly notable was the expansion along the lakefront, even going a short distance into Etobicoke.

The announcement was made at Ubisoft, and these new stations were promised by the end of the month. Sure enough, a bike share station was installed today on Ward St at Wallace Ave, with place for 23 bikes taking up what was three spaces of reserved car parking.

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I also heard that a new station just went in at the entrance to High Park, and sure enough, here it is on the southeast corner of High Park Ave and Bloor.

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It’s too bad that there is not another planned in the park by the Grenadier Restaurant. It would seem that this would be an ideal way to get people into the park. The closest stations will be at Keele and Bloor, and along the lakefront.  Nevertheless, it is exciting to see bike share finally come into our ward.

 

 

 

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On a brief trip to Hamilton, I had a chance to try out the bike share system, which was run by Social Bicycles.  Hamilton Bike Share has several different rate plans. As a very occasional user, I am on the $4 per hour plan. I started at the Hamilton GO terminal.

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They had recently added some more bikes and stations to the system, and the new bikes in white were an upgrade from the originals, going from three to eight speeds. Naturally I picked out the white one from this rack. I had the Sobi bike sharing app on my phone, but it appeared that I still had to punch in my user number and PIN manually.

Fun fact: there was a period of time when you could pay a fee to have a custom name put on a bike. Another fun fact: you can use their website or phone app to search for a particular bike by name.

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Riding north on James St. S, I pass the former James St. Baptist church which appeared in the Handmaid’s Tale while it was in the process of being demolished. Facadism, anyone?IMG_6101

Downtown Hamilton traffic is a bit more low key than in Toronto 😉

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One of the things I wanted to check out was the bi directional bike lanes along Cannon that were put in as a three year pilot in 2014. Cannon St. is a high speed arterial in the north end of the city, with one way traffic flowing west. One lane was converted over to a bi directional bike lane. One of the best features of this bike lane is that it cuts across a significant part of the city; it is 6.3 km long, which is about the distance from Keele to Church along Bloor St.

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Riding east (against the car traffic direction), there are bike traffic lights at each major intersection.

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There are also chevrons across major intersections.

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The bike lanes themselves are protected by combination of bollards and rubber bumpers.

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Here I am at my destination.

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Why did I come to this particular station?  It was to take this picture.

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Comparing the old and new models, one major difference is that the new basket is a bit smaller, but is made up of plate with small holes, rather than the old design of tubes. As noted in this detailed blog post, this allows smaller items to be carried in the basket.

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A “be seen” headlight is integrated into the front of each basket.

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The bike named “Mika” was looking a little worse for wear since the last time I saw it, which was two years ago, but it still looked functional. You can see the U shaped lock sticking out to the right.

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This pictures show the ends of the “U”

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When you unlock a bike, you stow the “U” in the handy carrier.

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Riding back to the GO station, I note the green boxes that show where bikes are supposed to wait before crossing both lanes of bike traffic as well as Cannon St. The placement of this one seems a bit odd, but all of them are place as far as possible away from car traffic.

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At the end of the trip, the phone app shows the charge. The LCD screen showed it as well, but the display reset before I could take a photo.

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By all accounts, Hamilton Bike Share has been a raging success. Reviewing press on the Cannon St. bike lanes, I see articles both in support, and somewhat more mixed.   They were put in in the first place with significant local support. In addition to significant increases in ridership, some data shows improved car traffic flow. I’ll be watching to see if they are made permanent.

 

 

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Tonight was the second in a series of evening concerts put on by the Bicycle Music Festival, leading up to their main event on September 10. Cycle Toronto organized a ride from downtown to Taylor Creek Park.

Here we are in Asquith Green Park, just a block north of Bloor and Church.  Sam gets us organized.

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Here we go down Rosedale Valley Rd.

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Now north on Bayview Ave. It’s nice to have that solid guard rail between us and traffic.

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Tunnel of trees.

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Waiting for the Go Train to pass.

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A brief water break at “the elephants”.

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Caitlin of the Bicycle Music Festival provided the tunes during our ride.

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Keagan just after she called in to say that we were going to arrive a little late.

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and we’re here. Volunteers from Arts in the Parks show us where to turn.

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Tonight’s band was Yuka, who laid down smooth Motown style grooves. I really wished that we had been able to provide a bigger crowd, but my guess is that a lot of people were scared off by the weather forecast of possible afternoon thundershowers.

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Power for the sound system provided by bike, naturally. Note that the Yuba Mundo ridden by Caitlin is being put to work.

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Riders had to keep the generated voltage within a certain range, as shown by the small meter.

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A big thanks to YUKA, the Bicycle Music Festival, Cycle Toronto, and Arts in the Parks.

The next Sunset Series bike ride / concert is on August 15, with another following on August 29. All the infomation is at the Bicycle Music Festival website.

 

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The extended family met up in Banff, and today we rented some bikes to take a spin around the Banff golf course: a lightly travelled paved loop.  We started on the 200 block of Bear Street, which was billed as a woonerff.

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In reality, they removed some parking spaces and made some patios and bike parking, but the car through traffic didn’t seem to pay much attention to the fact that they didn’t have the right of way all the time. On the plus side, there were three bike rental companies on this short block.

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Here is our group getting staged.

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and we’re off, headed to a multi use trail along the Bow river.

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Along the river.

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Pausing for a group photo on the new pedestrian/bike bridge which is just a little ways from the old crossing.

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Passing a horse drawn carriage.

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Regrouping after a pause at the foot of Bow Falls.

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Between us, we had rented three of these Fiori tandems, which are made by Norco.

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The golf course loop is a peaceful ride through beautiful scenery.

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lunch break by the river

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and we’re off again.

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My nephew always wants to be in the lead.

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Unfortunately, Dad’s stance on his tandem didn’t afford him a great view of scenery.

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Mom was my stoker for most of the ride.

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Just before the end, I switched stokers to younger daughter, and there was a noticeable uptick in speed.

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Pausing at the top of the climb by Bow Falls.

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And back across the river.

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Banff seems to be trying to promote cycling, There are certainly a few really nice pieces of infrastructure such as the bridge, as well as the path between Banff and Canmore. In the town itself, most of the bike routes had wayfinding signage and sharrows. The main safety enhancement is that the speed limit in town has been lowered to 30 kph, and by the way the traffic was moving, it seemed to be enforced.

 

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This past weekend, I was able to make a return visit to G&O Family Cyclery, Seattle’s specialist cargo bike and family bike dealer. Since my visit two years ago. the shop burned to the ground, and was finally back up in a new place about a block north of the old location.

The new store is significantly more spacious than the prior location.

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In the front window, I could see the newly updated model of the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and a Reise and Muller cargobike that I didn’t recognize.

Once again, stepping inside, I’m in cargo bike heaven, with lots to gawk at. The red Bullitt with the custom wood box was being picked up by an excited customer.

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Here is a customer’s Family Tandem, just like ours, but with lots of nice additions, like a BionX motor, rear moose rack for a Burley Piccolo, double legged kickstand, a sprung Brooks saddle, and grip king pedals.

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A tern folder with the integrated Bosch e-assist, in front of a variety of Reise and Muller e-bikes.

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The latest version of the Yuba Spicy Curry, which I was told had a much better  e-assist than earlier versions.

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The frame mount for a front basket on the new Xtracycle Swoop.

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A Yuba stride bike with a front basket and very cute colour scheme.

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Carsick Design sling bags with a custom logo.

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The pièce de résistance: a Butcher and Bicycles tilting trike. I absolutely had to try it.

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Co-owner Davey Oil was very gracious and explained a couple of things about it before I took it for a test ride. This pictures shows the only time during my visit where he didn’t have a smile on his face.

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Riding the tilting trike was fascinating. I was advised that at low speed, it steers like a normal trike, where the tilting feature is almost irrelevant, but above about 15 miles an hour is where it makes a transition to the feel of a two wheeler. In truth, with my unfamiliarity with the combination of the tilting, the Bosch e-assist, and the NuVinci transmission, riding it was like ten minutes of full sensory overload. While I never got a chance to be fully comfortable with the starting, on a short downhill stretch I got the feel of the tilting, where it steered just as stably as a (two wheeled) bakfiets. Davey said that aside from its superior high speed stability, it was a bike particularly suited to parents with children with developmental difficulties, where the ease of loading passengers with the opening front panel was a big factor in its favour.

Davey was very kind letting me pick his brain about the cargo bike scene in Seattle. I noted the fact that e-assist seemed to be a much bigger part of their inventory, and he emphasized that for Seattle, not only was e-assist very helpful, but high speed stability was equally important for all the downhills. I neglected to take pictures of the one lonely Haul a Day on the shop floor, but he pointed out that it was the model with the heavy duty frame (“Haula Abdul”), and that they had a custom component spec that was much more suited to local conditions. Much of the feedback to Bike Friday in developing the heavy duty model came from G&O.

He also pointed out some of the features of the new Xtracycle Swoop, in particular the thru axle front fork that makes it much more stiff, as well as eliminating the possibility of front wheel ejection while using the disk brake.

The other bike that he spent some time discussing was the Reise and Muller Load which is the darker blue bike in the first picture. He said that the combination of the stiff frame and dual suspension was a revelation, and that the resulting high speed stability made it an ideal bike for Seattle’s hills, despite its somewhat limited cargo capacity.

Once again, I’d say that Seattleites are very fortunate to have a shop like G&O that not only has a comprehensive selection of cargo bikes, but even more importantly has the expertise to advise customers on the very best bike/trike for their needs.

Side note: on my way to and from the shop, I was able to check out the newly painted 92nd St bike lane, and I liked the fact that it had green paint at every cross street.

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The Arbutus Greenway is a new transit corridor that has been enabled by the City of Vancouver buying lands associated with an old CP rail line. Although detailed planning is to extend over several years, with lots of public consultation, the city put in a paved 9 km multi-use trail as a preliminary “demonstration”.

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The trail runs from about 5th and Fir all the way south to almost the north end of the Arthur Liang bridge to Richmond. My understanding is that it went in fairly recently.

Here is the north end of the trail.

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This is the first time I’ve seen one of the bike share stations. The rates seem to be similar to Toronto’s.

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One quirk of this local system is that there is a helmet law, and so each bike has a helmet attached to it.

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The overall configuration of the trail is pedestrians on one side, and a bi direction bike path on the other.

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It might have been just the fact that it was Canada Day weekend, but there were tons of people on the trail. What was particularly striking was the large number of families with kids.

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I found it amusing that there was this billboard along the trail.

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After a relatively short east-west section, the path turns south.

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Some of the road crossings are not finished. This is the non crossing at Broadway, where people were walking their bikes along the sidewalk to the intersection nearby.

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Smaller intersections have the cross traffic controlled by stop signs. You can also see concrete curbs that slow traffic on the path.

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This railway crossing sign was cute, but it looked like a recent addition.

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There were also a few bits of public art along the trail. Here are a few sections of rail beside this bench.

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The placement of the concrete curbs was a bit inconsistent. Here, the curbs are blocking the bike portion of the trail.

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At this intersection, the bikes and pedestrians are explicitly directed to an adjacent crosswalk at the intersection.

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Old power line poles remain along the pathway.

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A rainbow of painted rocks.

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Existing pedestrian trails that cross the corridor are clearly marked.

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Here just south of Kerrisdale, there is more space at this intersection so that foot and bike traffic are separated for the crossing.

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On this section of the trail, there were a lot of community gardens. This one had a shed and several scarecrows.

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There was only one remaining crossing that looked like it was still being built.

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Here is the south end of the trail.  You can see the old rails continuing further. I had a nice chat with the fellow in the yellow shirt. He said that the right of way will eventually also include a street car line, and that there is still much planning to be done before the plan is finalized. In the meantime, Vancouverites can enjoy this great path.

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Coming back north, I note the marked turn off to connect to the Canada Line bridge that has a bike path on it.

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I do realize that the West Toronto Railpath is a more complicated project, but it seems like it is going to take forever to complete, in comparison to what Vancouver has managed to do in less than a year.

 

Update: posted to the HUB cycling FB page:

“Arbutus Greenway Temporary Path Construction June Update We’re building a temporary path that everyone can enjoy while the future Arbutus Greenway is being planned and designed. In June we finished paint line markings and stencils to help visitors share the greenway. We also added project signage, so that visitors know how to get involved. Next month we are making finishing touches to the intersection at West 41st Avenue, adding safety improvements at local intersections along the greenway, and adding signage to either end of the temporary path to help visitors get to the Seawall/Granville Island and the Canada Line Bridge.”

 

 

 

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This past Friday, clusters of orange bikes suddenly appeared on campus at several locations along St. George St. It turns out that there is a new bike share company in town called Dropbike. This appears to be similar to schemes popularized in China, where you are able to drop a bike off anywhere, which has caused some problems for the public realm. Here the website says the the territory available to drop bike users is confined to the U of T St. George campus for the moment.

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Here’s some bikes outside Sid Smith.

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and some more beside Engineering. I wonder if they bothered to get any kind of permit to clutter up our sidewalks.

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I do have some bias towards orange bikes with black trim that also have a flagpole as you can see from this pic.

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Nevertheless, let’s take a closer look at the bikes themselves.  The overall stance of the bike is similar to a “bixi” bike, although the horizontal distance between handlebar and seat is somewhat less. It is much lighter, but it does not give the impression of being very heavy duty. The frame mounted front basket is a plus and is much bigger than the one on the Toronto bike share bikes; bring your own bungie.

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Both bikes feature 24″ wheels.

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Front caliper, rear drum brake.

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Solar powered headlights and taillights. I’d be curious to see if these actually work. I noted that about a quarter of the bikes did not have the headlight.

 

Some basic security features, such as the lack of quick release, and proprietary fasteners on the handlebar stem, etc. I did note that you cannot pull the seat post out of the frame, but trying to do so does a nice job of almost jamming the seat in the highest position. No sign of grease anywhere on the bike.

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Here is the wheel lock. You scan the QR code while inside the app, and you get the combination, and away you go.

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The website is not very informative, and you only get more information by downloading their app. $45 deposit, and first ten rides free, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Note that the End user agreement says that you might get charged $200-$300 for a stolen bike, and that surge pricing might apply, even though the website and the FAQ fail to mention this.

Here I am, all logged in, and I see there are 18 bikes in this vicinity.

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Actually, from where I was standing, I could only see 17, but close enough.

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This ride is free, and it is telling me that these are the spots where I can drop the bike off.

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There don’t seem to be any spots off campus, although if you look on the bike locator screen, there are already a few farther afield, such as one in Yorkville, and a couple near 89 Chestnut, and this one that I walked by earlier in the day on McCaul.

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This screen gives you the combination (which I remembered to blank out of the photo)

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I wasn’t brave enough to venture off campus as I didn’t want to be charged for dropping the bike off out of territory. I took a quick ride to Physics. The bike is single speed, and quicker than a Bixi.

Once you are finished with the ride, you press the “end” icon, and you get this:

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and the bike location seems to be keyed to the nearest orange dot, rather than reflecting the actual location of the bike (which is near the blue arrow). Note that you are not given any guidance as to whether you are near a designated drop off zone. As I mentioned previously, I was still on campus, so I don’t know if there is a warning if you try to drop off out of territory. I did note a button to report misplaced bikes.

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I would urge the developers to have the instruction to lock the bike and scramble the combination on a separate screen before the one that asks you to take a photo of the bike. I also didn’t see anyway for the next user to access said photo.

There didn’t seem to be any electronics on the bikes themselves, so I’m assuming that everything depends on the GPS service on the phone. I also didn’t see any provision for changing the combination, so in principle, anyone with the combination could just walk away with a bike. In this case I’m assuming that the last user gets charged for the cost of the bike?  It is also possible that staff might come around and periodically mechanically reset the combinations, but this is sheer speculation on my part.

At any rate, this is an interesting experiment, and we’ll see how it does. They are undercutting Toronto Bike Share by quite a bit on price, in a business where no bike share company that I’m aware of makes money in the first place.

Update (June 26): Star Article.

Update: Picture in wired

 

 

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