Rabu, 11 Desember 2013

“open-source” The next big thing in twin cities car- and bike-sharing?

What if car – and bicyle sharing could be as simple and convenient as owning at a fraction of the price? some transportation leaders see a potential for exponential solutions to thorny problems of our autocentric culture ranging from environmental degradation to roadway and parking cogestion.

Minneapolis, already home to serveral first generation car sharing services, is launching a possible game changer in the field: Car2Go is deploying hundreds of two seat Smart cars, made by Car2Go’s parent company, Daimler of Germany, that can be picked up and dropped off at any unrestricted parking spot in the city, even in front of your own home.

The firm began operations in 2008 in its headquarters city Ulm, Germany, where it now has 300 cars. Starting last year, it has put 1200 in Berlin. It also operates in several other large European and Canadian cities, as well as Austin, Texas; Denver, Colo; Miami; Portland, Ore; San Diego; Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

This stationless innovation relies on global positioning technology plus communication links ranging from state of the art (a smartphone app) to ald school (land line telephones). For hourly or by the minute use rates, you get free fuel, insuarance, and parking. In Minneapolis, it also means at least a tenfold increase in the number of shared cars on tap.

Open-Source Bikeshare?

Finally, can open sourcing revolutionize and broaden the appeal of bicycle sharing, too? Spcial Bicycles (SoBi) is operating its dockless bikes equipped with GPS, integrated locks, and onboard computers in a handful of mostly smaller U.S. settings, while recent major bike sharing initiatives in places such as New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., have stuck with the original station model.

The biggest problems, he said, are visibility and the frequent maintenance and “rebalancing” of the fleet required for effective bike sharing. :We have to move these bikes around all the time” to keep high demand locations stocked, he added. “At our stations, they’re lined up close to the curb where we can get in and out quickly with our trucks. We don’t have to search for them. Without the docks, i think you’d spend 10 times longer doing the same operation and get in everybody’s way.”

Conrad de Fiebre is Transportation Fellow at Minnesota 2020. This article is adapted from one he wrote for the MN 2020 web site.More


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