Biking through Orange County’s canyons, along the beachside trails and in the lanes that parallel our streets, is a reminder that transportation doesn’t necessarily require four wheels.
In Southern California especially, we are blessed with year-round weather that promotes the active lifestyle of cycling. And with more than 1,000 miles of bikeways in our county and an additional 700 miles planned, biking to work has emerged as a viable alternative to driving.
Utilizing bicycles as a commuting option is gaining more appeal around the world with 136 bike-sharing programs reported to be in place in 2011. The U.S. claims a fraction of those, and aside from some university and large employer programs, California has no bike sharing options.
At Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), we are preparing to implement a bike-sharing program, providing the public with the benefits commuting by bike can offer, and ultimately, taking cars off the road, easing traffic and improving the environment.
Successful bike-sharing systems are located in medium- or high-density areas like the ones in place in Washington, D.C.; Boston; Denver and Philadelphia. They create connectivity between transit hubs, business centers, tourist destinations and housing.
Keeping with industry best practices, OCTA is beginning our pilot program in Fullerton, a city of nearly 140,000 and home to California State University, Fullerton and Fullerton College, a pedestrian-friendly downtown with a transit hub and transit-oriented development. It has the bikeways, density and local support needed.
The initial program is envisioned to be comprised of 15 stations and 150 bicycles with annual, monthly, weekly and daily subscriptions available. OCTA is currently in the process of hiring a firm to implement the pilot program, which is anticipated to roll out this summer.
The city of Anaheim, located in Orange County, also is planning to implement a pilot bike-sharing program this year. The system will serve major activity and destination centers that could include the convention center, Angel Stadium of Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort.
As commuters continue to explore this healthy, money-saving alternative, they will look to transit agencies and municipalities to lead the bike-to-work movement and introduce bike-sharing programs in their communities.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Bus deaths prompt uneasy questions about responsibility" here.
Seeing a canine passenger on mass transit is not uncommon, but the reasons why a dog might catch the train or hop a bus are varied (remember Eclipse, the Seattle Lab mix that uses the bus, often on her own, to get to the dog park?). Most public transit pooches are working —as K-9 officers or service animals. In the Philadelphia region, other animals — in approved carriers only—are permitted to ride the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s buses, trains and trolleys. However, a new pilot program underway by SEPTA allows registered therapy dogs volunteering at two Philadelphia hospitals to use two designated bus routes to travel to their sites.
To be sure, there is no substitute for offering high-quality bus or rail transit service, but many transit agencies skimp when it comes to marketing, outreach, and education and, as a result, the public often has no idea how good the service may actually be. Buses also have an image problem in many communities, which proper marketing could help address. Witness the huge sums spent by automakers in crafting the image of their automobiles.
The Uber website proudly states that, “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber's rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.” Such hype is common on corporate websites, but when the braggadocio is backed up by an article in the Wall Street Journal that discloses a valuation of $41 billion their ambitious words take on relevance.
As the world changes with the rapid advancement of connected devices and technologies, so must the transportation industry. In a business area where change is sluggish, DOTs across the country must adapt quickly to the evolving technologies that are going to impact their operations and budget. There are at least three technologies that will have immense impact over the next two decades on how we travel and how state transportation departments react to provide mobility — connectedness, big data and automation.
Around the world, artwork of all forms adorns transportation centers, stations and bus shelters. While many of these statues, paintings, mosaics and sculptures are permanently installed as part of a station’s architecture, transportation organizations can use their spaces for art exhibitions that not only make transit hubs more aesthetically pleasing for commuters, but also inspire budding artists. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) recently partnered with two organizations to showcase the artistic talent of youth from the Greater Philadelphia region and around the world.