Transportation Networks aka Bike Share is Awesome

An amazing thing happened yesterday.

I was on my way into Boston to get coffee with Jason Schultz — from my house, I had ridden my bike the 2 minute ride to the Green Line T, taken it downtown, and had just gotten off at Hynes Convention Center.  From there, it was to be about a 10 minute walk to Render, in the South End.  No big deal — a 10 minute walk is fine with me.  But just then, I looked up and saw this out of the corner of my eye:

So I swiped my credit card, punched a few buttons, and one minute later I was riding off down Mass Ave.  I found Render, and lo and behold, there was another bike share rack on that very corner.  So I slid the bike into the rack and that was that.  Total cost: $0 (the first 30 minutes is free in Boston’s system).  Total awesomeness: very high.

There are so many great things about this — the one I like the best, I think, is how spur-of-the-moment it was — and completely seamless into my trip.  Sure; saving eight minutes on a ten minute walk isn’t life changing.  But this really does have the potential of expanding your access to the city dramatically — next time, I’ll be willing to meet up at a place that would have been a 20 minute walk, but instead is a 5 minute bike ride.

Like bike lanes, bike share is infrastructure that falls into the chicken-or-egg category — you need to have it to get people to bike more, but it’s hard to justify building it when there’s not demonstrable demand.  But yesterday’s experience tells me that Boston has done a really good job building dense, convenient, usable bike infrastructure downtown, and I hope it continues.  It’s really dramatic how it changes the way you use the city.

2 thoughts on “Transportation Networks aka Bike Share is Awesome

  1. just this morning Emmett and I were talking about products and services that aren’t necessarily driven by the supply/demand principle. software, or a TV show, has infinite supply, and often before there’s demand for it. but once the product or content is created, demand slowly increase and eventually drives distribution.

    many of the products and services we use today were supplied first, without any demand. in some cases demand is driven by marketing and our desire to try things or own things. or to instagram things.
    not to get too far from what you’re talking about, but it seems like a similar idea. the bike share program may not be something anyone realized they had a need for until it was supplied. and perhaps what I’m really talking about goes back to your early career days, when we discussed how cities can be built for use with cars or more realistically with with people in mind.

    the pendulum swings, homeboy.

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    1. Yeah — before the ipad no one thought there was a real market for that kind of thing. Easier to pull off in a corporate context, where the whole point is to make these kinds of bets, than in the public sector, I think.

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