Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guest editorial: What to do when public transportation fails

Recently the city of Philadelphia, experienced a six day long strike by the local transit authority, SEPTA. Subways and buses stopped operating only hours before the Monday morning rush hour leaving workers scrambling for alternative modes of transportation to get to the office.

- Submitted by Timothy Ericson, CityRyde, Philidelphia, PA USA

The strike also left many school aged children stranded and unable to attend classes. Even non-transit riders were frustrated with huge increases in vehicular traffic on all of the city’s roads and hiways. During the strike period, bicycle ridership skyrocketed in Philadelphia as it was the only option for many commuters to reach their destinations. The strike forced many residents to view the bicycle as a primary form of transportation.

Paris, France had a similar scenario back in October of 2007 when their transit workers went on strike. However Paris commuters had an option that Philadelphia commuters did not, they have a bike sharing system. Vélib’, one of the largest bike sharing systems in the world, experienced a tremendous increased in ridership during this strike. According to a New York Times article, Vélib’ trips almost doubled to 175,000 trips a day, and this was still before the system was completely installed throughout the city. City officials even installed temporary stations throughout the city to try and curb the demand. Although many Parisians complained that bicycles were not available, they were lucky to have a bike sharing system available to them when the city was paralyzed.

During Philadelphia’s transit strike CityRyde had the opportunity to demonstrate to city commuters a fully functional bike sharing system during the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s “Bike the Strike” event. (CityRyde would like to send a special thank you to all of the staff members of the Coalition who put together the event and allowed CityRyde to demonstrate along side them.) CityRyde’s CEO and co-founder was quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer article saying, “Bike sharing has transformed cities around the world, and we’re hoping to do the same thing in Philadelphia.” Besides showing people “there are other options out there,” today’s demo of the idea was timed “to help push it along in the City Hall,” Ericson said.

This is a wake up call to cities all over the world to look into alternative forms of transportation. Bike sharing gives residents and visitors freedom to move throughout cities on an environmental friendly, cost effective bike sharing bicycle.

CityRyde demonstrated the Samba system which is currently deployed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Timothy Ericson
CEO and Co-Founder
CityRyde, Bike Sharing Experts
3225 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
USA: +1.215.475.5224 x200
Fax: +1.215.475.5011

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