Posts Tagged ‘montreal’

Meet Your San Francisco Bike Sharing Program – 500 Bicycles and 50 Stations Coming Next Year to FiDi, SoMA, Civic Center

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I guess they have the money now and they’re working on figuring out who’s going to run the thing.

Appears as if the SFMTA has given up on a giant Parisian Velib-style program with 5000 bikes strewn all over town – they’re starting small. Regardless, some of this free advice still applies.

The deets:

“…the pilot service area will be centered in San Francisco’s employment- and transit-rich Downtown/SOMA corridor between the Financial District, Market Street and the Transbay and Caltrain terminals.  This area is notably flat, has the densest bikeway network coverage in San Francisco and enjoys the highest levels of cycling, yet those who commute by transit from cities to the east and south encounter difficulties bringing a bicycle with them on BART or Caltrain.”

El Mapa:

Click to expand

So the stations might end up looking a little half-assed, owing to CEQA:

“Heath Maddox, senior planner for the Livable Streets Subdivision of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), says the defining characteristics of the service they’ve outlined in an RFP draft is that the bike system be solar-powered with no need for external AC power and no requirement for excavation that would turn the installation process into a construction project.”

Remember, sharing is caring.

All the deets:

“The map of the pilot service area presents northeast San Francisco. The highlighted area in the map is the bicycle sharing pilot service area bound by South Van Ness Avenue and the Ferry Terminal along Market Street. To the north, the service area boundary includes the Federal Building at Turk Street, Union Square at Post Street, the Broadway and Columbus Avenue intersection, and The Embarcadero at Sansome Street. To the south, the highlighted service area includes the Embarcadero to Mission Bay, Townsend Street and Concourse Exhibition Center.”

Bike Sharing

Bike sharing is coming to San Francisco! A regional pilot program led by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) in partnership with the SFMTA will bring approximately 50 bike share stations and 500 bikes to San Francisco’s downtown core beginning in spring 2012. The SFMTA is working with a regional team to implement this pilot along the Caltrain corridor in San Francisco, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Jose and shown in this Regional Bike Sharing System map. The project is funded through a combination of local, regional and federal grants with major funding coming from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Innovative Bay Area Climate Initiatives Grant Program (BACI).

What is bike sharing?

Similar to car sharing, bicycle sharing is a term used to describe a membership-based system of short-term bicycle rental.  Members can check a bicycle out from a network of automated bicycle stations, ride to their destination, and return the bicycle to a different station.  Bicycle sharing is enjoying a global explosion in growth with the development of purpose-built bicycles and stations that employ high tech features like smartcards, solar power, and wireless internet and GPS technologies.

Who is involved with launching the San Francisco bike sharing system?

The BAAQMD is the overall regional project lead, coordinating the planning and implementation efforts of the local partners: the City and County of San Francisco, the Cities of San Jose, Mountain View and Palo Alto in Santa Clara County and the City of Redwood City in San Mateo County. The SFMTA is leading the project in San Francisco, and we are working in cooperation with our City and County partners, including the Planning Department, Department of Public Works, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the Port of San Francisco. The regional partners will be selecting a contractor in fall 2011 to install, operate, and manage the system.

Where will bike sharing be located in San Francisco?

As the San Francisco Bicycle Sharing Pilot Service Area map (PDF) presents, in San Francisco, the pilot service area will be centered in San Francisco’s employment- and transit-rich Downtown/SOMA corridor between the Financial District, Market Street and the Transbay and Caltrain terminals.  This area is notably flat, has the densest bikeway network coverage in San Francisco and enjoys the highest levels of cycling, yet those who commute by transit from cities to the east and south encounter difficulties bringing a bicycle with them on BART or Caltrain. Much of San Francisco’s densely urbanized northeastern quadrant is similarly well-suited to bicycle sharing.

When will bike sharing launch in San Francisco?

The regional partners will be selecting a vendor to install, operate, and manage the bike sharing system in 2011 with the goal of a system launch in Spring/Summer 2012!

Further Information

If you have any questions, comments or feedback about bike sharing, contact the SFMTA at sustainable.streets@sfmta.com.

The Gayly-Colored “Hippie Express” Arrives Above San Francisco – A Swiss International Airbus A340 Over Twin Peaks

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

My first sighting of the Hippy Express, coming in direct from Zurich.

(Look at them skinny, thirsty, old-school “high” bypass engines. What a mistake the A340 was for Airbus. Oh well.)

Enjoy:

Click to expand

(Five year old camera plus sub-optimal settings plus 600mm handheld plus loads of digital zoom plus quickie processing = DSLR noise. Oh well.)

Largest Tent in the Western Hemisphere Now Graces SoMA Mission Bay – Cavalia, a Horse Ballet, Opens Nov. 16

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Look down 5th Street these days and you’ll be rewarded with a view of the biggest tent in San Francisco history. See? That means that Cavalia is coming back to the bay area soon. You’ll come for the haute école and stay for the pas de deux!

Check it:

Cavalia is a company based in MontrealQuebecCanada that presents large-scale equestrian productions involving trick ridingvaultinghaute école and pas de deux, unbridled displays, and Cirque du Soleil-like performances.”

Read up on it and learn about creator Normand Latourelle courtesy of Susan Young and Pam Grady.

Now, get your tickets here.

Click to expand

See you there!

Groovy New Swiss International Air Lines Jumbo Starts Non-Stop SFO-Zurich Flights

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Now, I already told you about the plans for SWISS to start “direct” non-stop flights back and forth to sister-city* Zurich six days a week, so I won’t have to remind you about the thirsty, thirsty, unlucky and unloved Airbus A340** jumbo or McKinsey and Company’s Hunter (aka Jägermeister) Strategy, the very same eggheaded strategery that finished off the predecessor of SWISS. Anyway, everything has gone as planned – that’s the news of the day.

Switzerland’s new flag carrier has followed through and put new non-stop flights on its sked as of this week. And here’s something I didn’t know – they have this San Francisco-themed livery that’s far out and groovy. Basically, this special new paint sticker job tells the story of an epic voyage from the land of dairy cows to the land of fruits and nuts, complete with a reference to the Kraken and squid-infested waters of the North Atlantic. Some are dissappointed with the Summer of Love theme but oh well.

Check it:

Click to expand

*San Francisco has lots and lots of sister cities. It ain’t no big thang, actually.

**The A340 is basically an A330 twinjet that’s been stretched and that’s had another couple of engines tacked on. (The wings had to be strengthened more than once to handle the extra engines – engineers were repeatedly surprised with how wobbly things got during testing.) A340s have had more than their fair share of freak accidents and hull losses, but they haven’t killed any of their passengers, so that’s good. Now, does Airbus wish it had done a Giant Twin instead, you know, something like the wildly successful Boeing 777? Oh hell yes. An A777 would have been awesome for Airbus. Oh well. You, as a passenger, don’t have to worry about all that, you just have to kick in a bit more to help pay for the extra avgas required for the extra engines. Oh well, enjoy your stretched-out Flying Pencil.

All the deets. (The CEO’s name is Harry Hohmeister(!), for real. Means “river master” or something, surprisingly enough)

MAYOR NEWSOM ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF SWISS SFO-ZURICH SERVICE WITH NEW SPECIAL EDITION SF PLANE
San Francisco, CA— Mayor Gavin Newsom today welcomed Swiss International
Air Lines (SWISS) flight LX38, a playfully painted A340 making its debut on
the inaugural flight from Zurich to SFO. A host of San Francisco and Swiss
representatives met the new plane, which is decorated with a colorful San
Francisco 60’s-inspired mural complete with peace signs, musical notes and
guitars. The new SWISS service will operate six times per week, departing
SFO at 7:25 pm and arriving in Zurich at 3:40 pm the following day.  There
is no service on Tuesdays.
“Congratulations to SWISS on its new premium non-stop service from Zurich,”
said Mayor Newsom. “This new route will provide passengers with a superior
travel option to Europe as well as further cement the strong ties between
our two Sister Cities.”
SWISS is known for its impeccable service and on-time performance. The
airline offers dozens of nonstop services throughout Europe from its hub in
Zurich as well as Geneva and Basel.
“We are most pleased about this West Coast addition to our network, linking
two vital business and leisure destinations,” said Harry Hohmeister, SWISS
CEO. “We wish to thank our partners, colleagues and employees, and look
forward to serving the San Francisco community with professional and
efficient Swiss hospitality and outstanding air service.”
SFO – voted “Best Airport in North America” – is California’s gateway for
international travelers, with speedy custom lines and hundreds of flights
and connections throughout North America and beyond. SFO is ideally
situated in Northern California, with easy access to San Francisco, Wine
Country, and favorite local attractions Muir Woods and Alcatraz.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Swiss International Air Lines to San Francisco,”
said John L. Martin, Director of San Francisco International Airport. “This
new service between our sister cities offers international travelers great
options for getting to the United States while at the same time, boosting
our local economies.”
About SFO
SFO (www.flysfo.com) provides nonstop service to more than 65 US cities on
21 domestic airlines and to 32 international points on 27 international
carriers. SFO offers twice as many non-stop flights to the New York area
than all other Bay Area airports combined – making SFO the Bay Area’s
Airport of Choice. SFO was voted “North America’s Best Airport” in 2008 by
passengers for its outstanding customer service and amenities.
About SWISS
Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) serves 73 destinations in 39
countries all over the world from its Zurich hub and from other Swiss
international airports in Geneva and Basel. SWISS operates an 85-aircraft
fleet. In the UK & Ireland SWISS operates 33 daily flights from London
Heathrow, London City, Birmingham International, Manchester and Dublin to
Switzerland and, via its hubs, to the world. SWISS is a member of Europe’s
biggest frequent flyer program, Miles & More, and Star Alliance.
www.swiss.com

And the city’s prenup with Zurich, after the jump  (more…)

Its Amazing How Much Old Time Montreal Looks Like San Francisco

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Check out this bird’s eye view of Montreal, Canada from back in the late 1800′s.

Click to expand:

Doesn’t it sort of look a bit like San Francisco, complete with a Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, Market Street, an Embarcadero, Twin Peaks, Russian Hill and all those gridded streets?

Of course, there are differences. Like they’re a big city and we’re a little-big city with less than a million.

And their town is a lot flatter than ours, too. That’s something that we’ll have to take into account when we kick off our Bixi-like bike share system. (Montreal’s attractive bike share system is currently pretty much confined to the flatter parts of town. That kind of approach won’t work here in San Francisco. But at least we don’t ever have heavy snow, which suspends Bixi service for almost half the year.)  

Anyway, compare Montreal with the 415:

Pithy Advice for the Person Who Ends Up Running San Francisco’s Bike Share Program

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Remember back in the day, back when Clear Channel “promised” that they would provide a Velib-style bicycle sharing program for San Francisco? Let’s dig up a press release crowing all about that from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). Ah yes, from the “Transit Shelter Advertising and Maintenance Agreement” with Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc.:

“The agreement also requires Clear Channel to provide a Bicycle-Sharing Program, at the SFMTA’s request, details of which will be negotiated in an amendment to the Agreement.”

Details! Oh noes. Well Clear Channel looked at the details of running a bike share program and decided that they didn’t want to do it. Of course, they were not “required” to do Jack despite what the SFMTA thought. Isn’t that funny?

Now let’s imagine that you’re in charge of San Francisco’s bike-share program. What should you do? Let’s start with the good stuff and then worry about the details, the gritty nitty.

But first, let’s check in with Jessica Alba in Paris on a Velib. She’s in your corner:

All right, let’s go:

1. Junkets, junkets, junkets!

Try to get in as many “fact-finding missions” as possible early on. You’re the CEO, right? So, first thing you do is jet off to France, or D.C. or Montreal, bidness-class. Start a blog to post vacation photos of you on a Velib and complain about how you have to spend so much time away from your kids. Enjoy yourself, it’s going to go downhill from here.

2. Make the program as small as possible.

This is key. The bigger the program, the more headaches you’ll have. If you listen to people who tell you that you need to have a “critical mass” to be sustainable, you’ll have 5000 bikes on the streets – that means 5000 things to fret over every day. The Feds might give you millions to get started, but they’re not going to give you millions every year. As far as you’re concerned, a bike share program is a bike share program.

3. Think of a catchy name for your program.

I don’t know, BikeConnect (if Alex Tourk would license the name)? How about City BikeShare, CalBike, BikeCal, SFBike, BikeSF, FoggyBike, or Frisco a Go Go? I’m at a loss…

And now, decisions to be made:

1. Which bikes to use?

In the Parisian program, the heavy bikes come from Hungary and they cost $1000 per. This is both good and bad, because you want to have the bikes well-built in order to survive the rigors of heavy use, but you don’t want to lose too much money every time one disappears. I think it’d be impossible to charge $1000 to a San Francscan when the bike s/he just checked out got lifted by a thief, so you’re going to lose big bucks on theft. On the other hand, if you go the cheap route and use inexpensive mountain-type bikes, they’ll get stripped for parts with a quickness. You want bike thieves to think these are custom-made with no reuseable parts. Bixi bikes are cheaper (I hope) – perhaps they’d be a good starting point?

2. How much to charge users who don’t return bikes?

The Parisian government now subsidizes share program operator JC Decaux’s losses to the tune of millions of dollars per year. This is despite the fact that this company makes a mint from the 1600 advertising spaces given to them to pay for the program. If you are “too nice” to customers and only charge $50 for a bike they don’t return, then the customers won’t really care if their rental goes missing. On the other hand, if you try to charge the full replacement value, your customers won’t stand for it.

3. What about vandalism?

What about it – the little monsters are going to mess you up. They’re going to make it their business to make you want to go out of business. How will you react to the taggers who will paint over whatever they can? Now, program operators don’t have to deal with this issue in La Rochelle or Lyon, but in Paris, that’s a different story. Well guess what? We’re going to be just like Paris, having bikes with broken keels and lost keels. Deal with it. How about getting the City to cover all vandalism costs? That would help.

4. What about helmets?

You know, France has different attitudes about certain things. For example, they’ve got 58 nuclear panner plants and they’re building more, and they have a huge nuclear waste dump in Champagne, of all places. So, when you talk to the French about helmets for non-Tour-de-France-bike-riders, they don’t like it. Could San Francisco somehow rent out a smelly used helmet along with the bike? Doubtful. Could customers carry their own helmets? Sure, some of them would, but carrying around a helmet goes against the very nature of the whole program, which is designed to appeal to the general non-bike-riding public. In France, they tolerate deaths due to share program customers not having helmets. Will San Francisco?

5. What about hills?

Now let’s say your customer wants to go from a bike station at the top of Nob Hill down to Embarcadero Station – that’s a straight shot down California, it would take about five minutes, easy peasy. But who’s going to pay for the right to pedal a heavy bike back up to the top of Nob Hill? Should you give people who turn bikes in at the Nob Hill station more time? Certainly. Should you go ahead and just make that a free ride? Should you give these hardy souls a credit for future trips? Should you just pay jobless people to ride bikes uphill? Should you load up a truck and have an employee redistributing bikes all day long? Should you just not have a Nob Hill station? Don’t know.

There are no easy solutions for you. You’ll be made sport of in the pages of SFist and SFGate, San Francisco’s online newspaper. It’ll be endless. The Velib program works in Paris because of all that sweet, sweet street advertising money from all those signs. You won’t have access to that kind of dough, not in San Francisco.

Oh well, that’s why you’ll get paid the big bucks.

Good luck, Chuck.

After the jump, all the places you should junket to, before the cash runs out.

(more…)

Bailed-Out Swiss International to Start SFO-to-Zurich Non-Stop Service in June 2010

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Well, you can read the press release below. Or better yet, check out the refreshingly frank Wikipedia entry on Swiss International Air Lines and/or the prior SwissAir, which followed the Mckinsey & Company’s “Hunter Strategy” for too long. (You can read about that fiasco in B-School.)

Billions of bailout dollars (or whatever) later, the Swiss sort of have a vibrant national carrier again.

Anyway, if you’re flying to Switzerland, this will do. The Airbus A340 jumbo is nobody’s idea of a successful design (what with its surplus of fuel-sucking engines in this Big Twin Era), but it’ll get you there and back, six days a week, as a pampered guest of SWISS CEO Harry Hohmeister (his real name, srsly).

Imagine this bird at SFO:

Swiss_Air_-_Zurich_-_2005

And British Airways isn’t pleased about this development at all, but oh well.

All the deets after the jump.

(more…)

Bixi, the Bike Taxi, in Golden Gate Park – Testing Out the Canadian Bike Rental System

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

The Bixi short-term bike-share roadshow blew into town today, however briefly, to show us how they do it up in Montreal.

But first things first – a quick report on what our visiting bike-sharing visitors were surprised by in GGP:

1. The summertime cold and wind;

2. The homeless dude with a guitar case who flipped out, attacked a jogger, and had to get taken down by a bunch of Park Rangers and SFPD officers;

3. Noisy raptors circling low overhead; and

4. San Francisco’s famous bicycle built for four. It almost stole the show. See?

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Program Director Andy Thornley with SF Weekly’s Matt Smith et ux, ”quad” liberi, all together on a charming, fully-functioning bicycle. Click to expand:

IMG_7752 copy

So Bixi is just like the Parisian Velib program except the Bixi bikes aren’t as heavy, which is a good thing. But the Bixis are still heavy though. And if you happen to be six foot one and a ton of fun, you’ll find that the frame is strong enough but that the seatpost doesn’t go up high enough. Otherwise the whole program is as you would expect.   

The mise-en-scene today:

IMG_7741 copy 

In France, they incentivize people to drop the bikes off at the tops of hills. If a program like this ever gets off the ground in San Francisco, what would it take to deal with stations at the tops of our mini-mountains?

Bienvenue à Montréal!

IMG_7742 copy

It’s enormous work keeping a program like this going. The little monsters of France have effectively managed to steal, vandalize, and otherwise mangle the entire original fleet – at a replacement cost of thousands of dollars each, that’s a tough row to hoe.  

IMG_7732 copy

If you want to make a system like this work in San Francisco, you’d need  a subsidy from the government, the way that MUNI and BART and Golden Gate ferries get subsidies.

And where will people get the helmets they’ll need? Whoops. (In gay Paris, they take a c’est la vie approach to matters like this.)

All in all, I’d rather have a regular bike and a U-lock than a Bixi program membership. But if you can’t find a cab or you just missed your bus, you might like having the option of a short-term bike rental.

We’ll see.

 
City CarShare Cohosts Bike Sharing Demonstration.

Exploring New Trends in Green Mobility

WHAT:   A one-day opportunity for the public to ride bikes from a bike share system. Bike sharing allows people to pick up a bike from one station, travel to their destination and return the bike to any other station in a network. City CarShare will be conducting a survey among participants to get their feedback on the concept, the equipment and their level of support for bike sharing in San Francisco.
 
WHEN:   Sunday, August 2, 10 am- 3:30 pm
 
WHERE:   Golden Gate Park, (just inside the car-free Sunday road closure on JFK Drive at Conservatory Drive East)
 
WHY:   To allow the public to test-ride the bikes and learn more about this eco-friendly mode of urban transportation. Through this demonstration project, the sponsors hope to encourage awareness and increased civic conversation about Bike Sharing for San Francisco as having the potential to build a greener city while encouraging healthy living.
 
SPONSORS:   City CarShare, SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), BIXI (of Montreal)
 
COST   Free