Mind the gap – as in, the gap in this blog being updated. There were a number of changes and “busy”-ness at the Capitol Corridor JPA that made either myself excessively booked to the point that I could not get around to the bike blog and there were some folks who moved on from CCJPA and those were my folks who used to publish this blog. Then summer hit with riding and being personally busy, moving from one house to another in Sacramento. My commute basically remains the same but I shorten it by about 2.5 miles – and I am okay with that.
What has been going on? On a personal note – bike-wise – I completed my fastest double century – the Mt. Tam Double along with the many climbs it had – and then I took a riding break to allow the weekends be used for a variety of moving duties but most recently just finished my fifth Levi’s Gran Fondo (and the weather was beyond perfectly stunning). Both those efforts have left me zapped and I guess it is the off season but the fall riding weather does beckon (but I still have many moving-in duties to pursue so not really so much riding – make a sad face). On the work side (which blurs sometimes with life overall) here is what is going on:
Visit to Capitol Bikeshare in Washington D.C.
I had to be out for meetings with Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). I was fortunate to spend time at my best friend’s house who lives with his family in Washington D.C. and that house is located close to the Potomac/Canal bike trail so I used my Brompton bike (took it on the plane ride over) to get around when going to/from meetings in DC.
And one of the meetings I scheduled after I had some hours off was to meet with Eric Gilliland, Director, Capital Bikeshare, who works for Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. Their site is tucked away in a corner of Washington D.C. near Nationals Stadium. At this site they do all their bicycle and dock repair and management of the system, including monitoring and dispatching. Eric was a gracious, laid-back, but calmly energetic host and what I got from that exchange was that I was probably talking to one of the two or three most knowledgeable English-speaking bikeshare operators in the world. You might think that being in business for three years supporting the Washington D.C. area system would not qualify you as an expert simply on the years alone but when you look at these modern bikeshare systems (aka the ones that use modern technology – not the first generation Dutch systems where many regular bikes ended up in canals), three years makes you an expert. In fact, the dedicated staff who support the DC system are regularly picked off and sent to be the new Director where Alta Bicycle Share wins a new system contract. The pilot operator for the San Francisco bikeshare pilot which just recently launched is run by Alta Bicycle Share and the Director is a “graduate” of the DC system. So among other things, the DC system is a finishing school for this new sort of transit system and that is how Eric views the operation – he is a transit operator. I questioned him about the various ways he works with the communities that participate in the DC system seeking to gain insight in how to replicate institutional and inter-personal success in the Sacramento and Bay Area. More than anything, he indicated it was all about the collaborative atmosphere between Alta and the cities that are part of the system. The cities all work well together as well, but he also acknowledged that the success of the system makes getting along easier. Again and again, he was essentially stating that the spirit of cooperation and goals that are larger than just that of the jurisdiction seem to carry the process forward.
Working in the Bay Area and Sacramento I would have to say that cooperation might be harder to achieve than anything for expanding bicycle sharing cohesively and comprehensively along the Capitol Corridor route. I don’t have enough digits on my toes and hands to account for the number of cities and transit operators who might be engaged on a mega-regional bikeshare system and can they all interact according to the Golden Rule that seems to work in Washington D.C.? As I write this, Washington D.C. is shut down for other reasons, but as we all know that does not change the mobility needs of locals and tourists. As I made my way around Washington D.C. on my folding bicycle, it was encouraging to see all the different types of users (commuters, tourists) of the bikeshare system and also to see how Union Station with the many Amtrak and Metro users was being well matched with the Capitol Bikeshare system.
Shared Use Mobility Summit
On October 10 and 11, 2013 the Capitol Corridor JPA is sponsoring–and I am attending–the Shared Use and Mobility Summit (www.sharedusesummit.org), which was largely launched via UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center with the driving force being Dr. Susan Shaheen. Dr. Shaheen is a world-renowned expert in the various sharing of mobility options and I came to know her in seeking out advice and expertise in examining bicycle sharing for the Sacramento and Bay Area. We are excited to be a sponsor of the program and I look forward to exploring how to best approach, mostly from an institutional aspect, sharing first/last mile mobility as it directly relates to access to/from the Capitol Corridor service. It is remarkable how fast shared mobility options are being integrated into people’s lives. There are numerous stories about how “millennials” are opting more often for other modes of travel than the private automobile or when they do need a car, they share. All of these aspects make learning how to align Capitol Corridor service with shared use mobility options a key part of our access strategies moving forward.