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Posted on April 8th, 2009 by mhepne20.
Categories: Homework and Research.
North America has a huge dependence on using home vehicles to get anywhere and everywhere. For my research on alternative transportation, I looked at two forms of citywide transportation sharing in North America, Bixi, a bike sharing program in Montreal, and Zipcar, a worldwide car sharing program with a hybrid fleet in San Fransisco. These are two initiatives to help lessen our dependency on fossil fuels.
Bixi (a combination of Bicycle and Taxi) was officially launched this year in Montreal. Over 3,000 bikes and 300 pay stations are located across the city, as an effort to complement the existing public transportation system. Bixi has been largely influenced by European bike sharing counterparts. Users simply go to a station, pick up a bike, ride it to their destination, and drop it off at a station nearest to their final destination. Users can take bikes out using a subscriber key, credit card, or an access code provided by the pay station. Users can consult http://www.bixisystem.com to find the stations nearest them and their destination, find out the number of bikes and parking spots currently available at any station, and notify system of any damage and trade for another bike quickly. What’s more, bike docks are equipped with a button that immediately signals that a bike is defective. The BIXI bikes are guaranteed for five years and designed to last at least 60,000 miles.
Innovations in the design of Bixi include solar power operated wireless communication and stations. The system is also quick and efficient to set up. Entire bike stations can be created, expanded, configured and removed as needed in less than half an hour, all monitored by a real-time management system. No excavation or preparatory work is required http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIXI. This is an improvement over “third generation” systems, such as the Velib program in Paris. The location of BIXI bike station is determined by several parameters, including population density, points of interest and activities (universities, bike paths, other transportation networks, and data on travel patterns of the general public. BIXI was ranked in 19th in Time magazines 50 Best Inventions of 2008. It has also won the Eco-Design award from INTÉRIEURS FERDIE. And the 2009 Gold Edison for Energy and Sustainability.
Zipcar is a private carsharing company that was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999, that serves 52 cities throughout the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Members (“zipsters”) are able to view vehicle availability and reserve a self-service car online or by telephone, in increments as short as one hour. 180 miles are provided for each 24 hour time period. Members are given a “Zipcard” that opens the vehicle they reserves only at the time they have reserved it for and can either sign up for the “Occasional Driving Plan” or the “Extra Value Plan”. They have also partnered with over 30 colleges and universities to provide students with access to their car sharing service on or near campus. According to http://www.zipcar.com/is-it/greenbenefits “Each and every Zipcar takes 15-20 personally-owned vehicles off the road. Multiply that by the more than 5,000 cars in our fleet and you’ve got a really big number. After joining Zipcar, 90% of our members drove 5,500 miles or less per year. That adds up to more than 32 million gallons of crude oil left in the ground—or 219 gallons saved per Zipster.”
Each vehicle has a home location with a reserved parking space located on a street, driveway, or neighborhood parking lot in the member’s area http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipcar. Each vehicle records the hours of usage and mileage that is uploaded to a central computer via a wireless data link. The reservation includes drivers insurance, a gas card for the car, and reimbursements for typical car maintenance items like car washes and window wiper fluid refills.
While Zipcar has had Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles in its fleet for a year, it recently announced that it has launched a pilot program for an entire fleet of hybrid vehicles in its Bay Area through a partnership with the city of San Fransisco. The addition of a Hymotion battery provides the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic with up to 30-40 miles of electrically assisted driving on a single charge. When the battery is depleted, the vehicle automatically reverts to standard hybrid operation, so driving range isn’t a concern http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/17703. The City also announced the installation of three charging stations at City Hall.
I think that both of these projects incorporate good ways to help the environment. Zipcar’s facts about the amount of oil saved every year are very impressive. I think it would be great if they could use only hybrid cars in all of their fleets. Bixi’s bike program is also unique in the fact that they have improved their bikes over previous models and now use no electrical energy and do not require infrastructure.
Comment on April 16th, 2009.
I think both of these ideas are great for reducing urban congestion and providing convienient service to urbanites. If Savannah had a bixi service, I would absolutely use it especially when going to class or even just going for a bike ride. I can appreciate the idea associated with renting a bike/car and not having to worry about maintenance, repairs, and high monthly car payments.
Comment on April 16th, 2009.
I really liked your presentation Malorie! Very cool and innovative ideas! I had never even seen or heard of “Bixies” but after your presentation I really had to go google to find out more because it seems like sucha wave of the future…something that is really gonna catch on fast!