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Gallery: Bikeshare Hawaii Hosting Open Houses
Bikeshare Hawaii is moving forward with its ambitious plan to launch a 1,600-bike, 183-station bikesharing system in urban Honolulu. And now the non-profit is hosting "open house" events to allow the public to check out the offerings of four bikesharing systems and help choose the best system for the island.
Since securing its initial $2 million in funding earlier this year, Bikeshare Hawaii issued a Request For Proposals for potential partners to help design and deploy an integrated system of bicycles, docking stations, infrastructure and operations.
"We’ve narrowed our equipment selection to four finalists and created a showroom that displays their bikes, docks and kiosks to share with people," says Bikeshare Hawaii President and Chief Operating Officer Ben Trevino. "You will be able to personally see and interact with the equipment and then give us your input [to] help us with vendor selection and specific feature requests."
Trevino noted that the showroom was made possible with support from the Honolulu Design Center, which provided space for Bikeshare Hawaii in a secured corner of its parking garage on the corner of Piikoi Street and Kapiolani Boulevard.
There will be a couple of public "open house" events in the next week -- Sunday, Aug. 23, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Wednesday, Aug. 26, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. -- and a lot more outreach is planned. But I was able to get a quick preview of the equipment options this week, thanks to Trevino and CEO Lori McCarney.
"It's wonderful to see how these systems are embraced by their communities around the world," McCarney says. "And in Hawaii, we can address both the visitor and resident market."
Bikeshare Hawaii notes that, of the top ten visitor destinations in the country, Honolulu is the only one that does not have a bikeshare system. Once a system is selected, McCarney said, ramp up time could be as short as six months, with an official launch targeted for May 2016.
To ensure enough density to be convenient, the plan is to have the nearly 200 stations spaced 900 feet apart across urban Honolulu, from River Street in Chinatown to Kapahulu Avenue and Kapiolani Park in Waikiki, and from the waterfront up to the H-1 freeway (plus the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus).
In the longer term, the plan is to integrate the bikesharing system with Honolulu's rail line as part of a comprehensive transportation ecosystem in Honolulu. And the hope is to eventually go statewide.
"But although we are a nonprofit, we want to run this as a business, where eventually receipts cover operation... or even, like in Miami, where it's profitable and able to generate a return back to the city," McCarney said.
Indeed, in addition to surveying visitors about the look, comfort, and features of each set of equipment, Bikeshare Hawaii is also asking for feedback on potential pricing models. Other paths to sustainability include finding corporate sponsors for stations, bikes, or even the entire system. (The Citi Bike system in New York City, for example, is sponsored by Citi Bank.)
McCarney outlined the many benefits of bikesharing, including reducing the reliance on cars (and the use of fossil fuels) in the urban core, providing a convenient and healthy option for errands and other short trips, and increasing access to areas that have limited parking.
"People say they don't go into Waikiki, because there's no parking, or don't go into Chinatown," McCarney says. "Bikeshare systems make it easy for people to visit these places, and even increases business in the area, because riders are seeing and experiencing these neighborhoods in a much more intimate way than they would looking through a windshield."
Here are some details and photos for the four Bikeshare Hawaii equipment finalists (and you can check out the full gallery on Flickr). But you really should attend an "open house" to see them in person and literally kick the tires. Each system has its own upsides and downsides, and a different mix of features, and how you reserve and pay for a bike is a big part of the experience.
Option A — PBSC Urban Solutions
"Our public bike system is up and running in 10 cities and other locations across the world, in every climate imaginable. The system now boasts over 37,000 bikes, 2,676 stations."
Option B — Nextbike
The "largest international bike sharing network" with 25,000 bikes in 16 countries, including Germany, Austria, Hungary, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Option C — Decobike
Operates in Miami (1,000 bikes and 100 stations) and San Diego (1,800 bikes and 180 stations).
Option D — Social Bicycles
"We took all the technology out of the docking stations and kiosks and integrated them onto the bike. Our systems cost a fraction of existing station-based bike share systems. Keeping capital costs low allows you to focus on building a sustainable operation."
Updated at 12:22 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2015 to correct the name and description of Option A.