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Kcbs Business Plan Final

Kcbs Business Plan Final

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Published by: tfooq on Aug 03, 2012
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King County’s topography presents a challenge to both using and operating bike share. Generally, more
people will ride downhill than uphill, resulting in an accumulation of bicycles at downhill stations. There are
several solutions to this issue including:
• System design: provide stations along routes that minimize the steepness of slopes and at locations
that allow users to easily check in a bike, walk up the hill, and check out another bike.
• Rebalancing: topography is one of the many issues that operators deal with to redistribute bikes to
the stations. The topography issue is not necessarily different from rush-hour commuting, where
people ride en masse in a single direction.
• Pricing structure: The operator could implement a reward program that offers gift certificates or
credits towards future membership fees to encourage riders to ride uphill. Such programs have been
implemented in Paris and Washington D.C., and there is likely to be continued innovation in this
field. Although these programs have been very positive in terms of public image, and increasing the
number of trips from full stations to empty stations, they have not had a material effect on
rebalancing issues.
• Additional gearing: the number of gears provided on the bike can be adjusted to give additional range
in particularly hilly environments. Providing additional gears (e.g. increasing the gearing range from
three gears to seven gears) does introduce additional capital cost. The base assumption in the pro-
forma is that the gearing of the bicycle fleet is increased from the standard three gears to seven gears.
The cost of this improvement is in the order of $50 per bike or approximately:
o Phase 1A: $25,000 (assuming 500 bikes).

o Phase 1B: $30,000 (assuming 600 bikes).

o Phase 2: $25,000 (assuming 500 bikes).

o Phase 3: $30,000 (assuming 600 bikes).

o Total: $110,000 (assuming 2,200 bicycles).
• Electric assist bikes: providing electric-assist bicycles would greatly reduce the barrier of riding up
hills but would add to capital costs, require more maintenance than regular bikes, introduce
recharging needs, and increase the complexity of rebalancing (e.g. if only part of the fleet is electric-
assist these bikes will have to be redistributed to the correct location). The following options were

o Introduce electric-assist bicycles to the entire King County bike share fleet. This would add
the most cost, but would provide the most flexibility to users of the system.

King County Bike Share Business Plan

Alta Planning + Design | 58

o Introduce electric-assist bicycles only to certain phases or areas of the system. This provides
less flexibility for users but targets the areas with the most significant hills, e.g. Phase 1
Downtown. Electric-assist bicycles ridden out of the select area would need to be returned
requiring more complex rebalancing efforts.
o Introduce electric-assist bicycles to only part of the fleet, e.g. one or two docks at select
stations. This is the lowest capital cost, but would require complex rebalancing to ensure
that these bicycles are returned to the correct stations (and docks). Users that need electric-
assist may find none available at the station unless access is controlled through special
membership (perhaps at an increased price).
Electric assist bicycles were not considered for the initial system launch in King County due primarily
to the unreliability of electric bike technology and the costs and logistics involved with operating an
electric bike system. Electric bikes could be considered as an addition to Phase 1A or introduced as
part of a future phase (e.g. in one of the cities east of Lake Washington) when electric bike
technology is more reliable.
• Bicycle weight: bike share bicycles are generally heavier than private bicycles so as to withstand the
rigors of the urban environment and to deter theft. Some vendors may have lighter bicycles, but
adjusting the weight of the bicycle would be extremely difficult as it would require a retooling of the
manufacturing process or use of lighter (often more expensive) materials.

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