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  • Balancing Our Bike Share Program

    by “The B Team” | Feb 20,2017

       
        A big problem for any bike sharing program is the “rebalancing” of the system, or finding a way to keep a good number of bikes at all the stations. In an effort to address this problem in the local program, Houston Bcycle collaborated with the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen at Rice University. We (Latane Bullock, Patrick Han, Sam Robedee, and David Senter) are undergraduate engineering students at Rice known as “The B Team”. Over the course of a semester, we developed a computer algorithm that tells Bcycle's field technicians how to move bikes to improve the distribution of bikes in the system.

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    From L to R: Patrick Han, Latané Bullock, David Senter, Sam Robedee 

        The algorithm, which runs several times a day, works in three steps to produce simple instructions for the Bcycle field techs. First, it looks at historical data that shows how many bikes are at each of the stations and the trips that were taken throughout the day. Next, it identifies patterns in the data and labels which stations usually need more bikes and which stations tend to have extra bikes. In the final step, the algorithm pairs nearby stations from each of these groups. These pairs of stations are sent to the field techs in order of importance. An example of one of the instructions might be, “Take 4 bikes from Sabine Bridge to Brazos & McGowen.” Filed techs can then decide if the instructions make sense and move the bikes accordingly. Ideally, the instructions can help keep stations from being too empty or too full, especially as Bcycle adds more stations to the system in the next few months.

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        Designing the algorithm was a rewarding experience overall, but it was certainly challenging at times. For example, we initially had trouble getting the program to read and sort the tens of thousands of lines of bicycle trip data. A single extra comma could cause a critical error in the algorithm’s calculations. Although we encountered a number of obstacles like this and made several difficult decisions throughout the design process, we overcame them and produced something we are proud of. It was an exceptional opportunity for us to learn how to work on a project as a team with the community in mind.

        From the results of our initial testing, we recorded a noticeable improvement in the system’s balance when compared to the past. While our limited testing data may not be sufficient to declare our solution as completely effective, the feedback we received from the field techs confirmed that, at the very least, our solution acted as a useful aid. As the system triples in size, the field techs may find it more difficult to rely on their intuition and routine alone. We believe our algorithm will be even more helpful as the system expands.

        We would like to thank Houston Bike Share executive director Carter Stern as well as all our instructors at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen at Rice University for giving us the opportunity and support we needed to address the rebalancing problem.

    “The B Team”
    Latane Bullock, Patrick Han, Sam Robedee, and David Senter

  • BBVA Compass Free Rides Program and Crawford Island Ribbon Cutting

    by Christin Dietze | Jan 24,2017

    Yesterday, January 23rd, at 10:30am Houston Bike Share along with City of Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, BBVA Compass, the Houston Downtown Management District and Visit Houston, celebrated the opening of the new “Crawford Island” Bcycle station and the launch of the “BBVA Compass Free Rides” program.

    Mayor Turner at Crawford Island Ribbon CUtting

    Through the BBVA Compass Free Rides program, Houston Bcycle 24 hour memberships will be FREE from January 27th - February 5th at all Bcycle stations across Houston, courtesy of BBVA Compass!  We know traffic will be crazy with the big game in town, and hope to alleviate some congestion by offering this transportation alternative to Houstonians and visitors alike. After the Super Bowl, BBVA Compass and Houston Bcycle will continue to promote healthy living with "Bike Share Free Fridays" from February 10th - March 31st. 

    Mayor Turner, Carter Stern and Mark Montgomery with City council Members Cutting Ribbon

    The “Crawford Island” Bcycle station — Houston Bike Share’s 14th downtown location — is situated between Discovery Green and the new Marriott Marquis, offering easy access to Super Bowl Live events and the NFL Experience at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Visit Houston and the Downtown District provided match funding and site construction for the expansion. The Bcycle kiosk at this location will feature work by local graffiti artist w3r3on3 (Gelson Danilo Lemos). 

    w3r3on3 Station Painting Mock Up

    At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor Sylvester Turner thanked BBVA Compass and Houston Bcycle for offering this unique transportation alternative. Mayor Turner reiterated that "We need a paradigm shift in transportation away from single-occupancy motor vehicles. Making cycling more accessible by building a strong bike sharing system is a critical component of that change.”

  • Houston Bcycle to Celebrate New Station & BBVA Compass Free Rides Program

    by Christin Dietze | Jan 18,2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

     On January 23, 2017, at 10:30 a.m., Houston Bike Share, along with City of Houston's Mayor Sylvester Turner, BBVA Compass, the Houston Downtown Management District and Visit Houston, will celebrate the opening of a new Bcycle station and the launch of a unique program funded by BBVA Compass with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ceremony will take place at the new “Crawford Island” Bcycle station located at 925 Crawford Street. During the ceremony, Houston Bike Share and BBVA Compass will introduce the “BBVA Compass Free Rides” program, designed to help alleviate increased traffic congestion and support Bcycle's role as an official transportation partner for Super Bowl LI.

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    The Crawford Island station will be the 14th downtown location for Bcycle and their third station surrounding Discovery Green, offering easy access to Super Bowl Live events and the NFL Experience at George R. Brown Convention Center. Through the “BBVA Compass Free Rides” program, individuals can receive free Houston Bcycle rides for the 10 days leading up to the Super Bowl, January 27 through February 5, at all Bcycle stations around Houston. Every ride will be free after the rider reserves the bike with a valid credit or debit card, and provides an email address or mobile number at checkout. After the Super Bowl, Bcycle will continue to promote healthy living with “Bike Share Free Fridays” from February 10 through March 31, 2017. Riders will be encouraged to post photos to their social networks incorporating the hashtag #WeAreMobile.

    Mark Montgomery, BBVA Compass Houston CEO, expressed excitement about the launch of the new station and resulting program. “The buzz around the big game is building, and what a better way to strengthen that momentum than with this bright idea from organizations and people committed to this great city. We’re honored to work in tandem with the mayor and Bcycle to give Houston’s visitors and its residents a bright experience.”

    Carter Stern, executive director of Houston Bike Share, commented on this new activation as well as programming expansion announced earlier this year. “We are so grateful to BBVA Compass and our other partners for helping us play a role in the excitement around Houston's hosting of Super Bowl LI and also in helping people in our community make smart choices. In fact, the new Crawford Island station is the first of many new stations coming to Houston this year and beyond. Houston Bcycle will more than triple in size, adding 71 stations and 568 new bikes. The BBVA Compass Free Rides program is a great way for people to test our product at no cost as we expand our footprint.”

    Bcycle’s expansion is funded by a Federal Highway Administration grant, sponsored by the City’s Planning and Development Department. Houston Bike Share is responsible for $880,000 in local match funding. The Crawford Island station was made possible by the generous donations of local match funding and site construction, provided by Visit Houston and the Downtown District, respectively.

                

  • City Council Approves Expansion of Houston Bcycle

    by Jorge Bermudez | Aug 24,2016

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    DATE: August 24, 2016 1:33:26 PM CDT

    MAYOR TURNER ANNOUNCES MAJOR EXPANSION OF HOUSTON BIKE SHARE PROGRAM

    Houston’s bike share system, Houston Bcycle, will more than triple in size over the next two years, adding 71 stations with 568 bikes. The expansion will be paid for with federal grant dollars.

    “The expansion of the Bcycle system will bring bike sharing into new neighborhoods and to new users,” said Mayor Turner. “As I’ve said, we need a paradigm shift in transportation away from single-occupancy motor vehicles. Making cycling more accessible by building a strong bike sharing system is a critical component of that change.”

    The City’s Planning and Development Department sponsored an application for a grant from the Federal Highway Administration. The grant will reimburse the City for $3.5 million of the cost of expanding the system. Houston Bike Share, a local nonprofit that administers Houston B-cycle, will provide the remaining $880,000.

    Currently, the system has 31 stations with 225 bikes. The expansion will bring the total to 102 stations and 793 bikes. The grant will also pay for two new transportation vehicles.

    Houston Bcycle is a membership-driven bike share system.  Memberships are available by day, week or year.  All members have unlimited access to the bikes for up to 60 minutes per trip.  There is a charge of $2 for every additional half hour.

    The expansion brings bike sharing into the Texas Medical Center with 14 stations and 107 bikes. The new stations will also serve Houston’s students, with 21 new stations and 248 bikes at the University of Houston Main Campus, Texas Southern University, UH-Downtown and Rice University.

    Since January 1, cyclists have made 73,577 trips and traveled 508,044 miles.  Houston Bike Share CEO Carter Stern estimates Houstonians are on track to exceed 100,000 trips by the end of 2016.

    “We could not be more grateful for the Mayor and City Council’s unflagging support of the Houston Bcycle program and our efforts to expand the program,” Stern said. “The expansion approved today will allow us to build on the immense success that Bcycle has had in just 4 short years and bring this affordable, healthy, sustainable mobility option to more Houstonians than ever before.”

    When people bike instead of drive, they dramatically decrease their carbon footprint. In 2015, Bcycle users offset 576,082 pounds of carbon by riding bikes instead of driving. That’s an equivalent gasoline reduction of 29,000 gallons.

    Bcycle users also burned 24,245,544 calories in 2015, the equivalent of about 5,400 gallons of ice cream or 81,000 cheeseburgers.

    “Increasing access to bikes provides Houstonians with a sustainable, environmentally-friendly mode of transportation that also improves public health,” Mayor Turner said. “These grant funds provide a way to expand access while minimally affecting the City’s budget.”

    Statistics on Bcycle Usage in Houston

    Since 2012
    300,862 Trips
    1,814,028 Miles Traveled
    1,719,147 Pounds of Carbon Offset
    72,324,567 Calories Burned

    In 2015 alone
    98,338 Trips
    608,345 Miles Traveled
    576,082 Pounds of Carbon Offset
    24,245,544 Calories Burned

    Since January 1, 2016
    73,577 Trips
    508,044 Miles Traveled
    481,272 Pounds of Carbon Offset
    20,256,294 Calories Burned


    Contact:

    Janice Evans
    Communications Director
    Janice.Evans@houstontx.gov
    Office: 832.393.0800 
    Mobile: 713.376.0525

    Darian Ward
    Press Secretary
    Darian.Ward@houstontx.gov
    Office: 832.393.0804 
    Mobile: 713.834.7127

  • Houston Bike Share Expands to Memorial District

    by Jorge Bermudez | Aug 23,2016
    Bike
    Houston, TX (August 18, 2016)
    – Residents and visitors of the Memorial Management District will soon have a new, convenient and healthy transportation option. Houston Bike Share will install its first station in the Memorial District on Tuesday, August 23. The official ribbon-cutting event will occur on Tuesday, August 30th.  Media are invited to attend.

    Houston Bike Share’s Pearl CityCentre Station is funded by the Memorial Management District. The Pearl Station is the first step towards a larger expansion within the District over the coming years. Bike sharing will serve to connect residents and visitors to its thriving business and entertainment venues in CityCentre.

    Pat Walters, Executive Director, states, “The Memorial Management District is so pleased to work with Bike Share and businesses in our District to install up to 13 bike stations within our boundaries in the next 4 years. The District is committed to encourage biking opportunities, and we appreciate Pearl CityCentre allowing us to install the District’s first funded bike station.

    The new station will mark Houston Bike Share’s 33rd station and will include 7 docks and 7 bikes. Aside from the new station, HBS will begin the first phase of its expansion project with 25 stations coming by the end of 2016.

    “Thanks to the District’s leadership, Houstonians who live, work, and play in CityCentre will have access to a first class bike share program,” Said Carter Stern, Executive Director of Houston Bike Share. “We are enthusiastic about our partnership with the Memorial Management District and look forward to working with them going forward to increase B-Cycle’s presence in the District”


    About Houston Bike Share
    Houston Bcycle is a bike share program in Houston Texas that is operated by Houston Bike Share; a 501 (C) (3) nonprofit whose mission is to implement, operate and expand a bike-sharing program, supported by the community, that offers residents, commuters and visitors a choice of ecological and economical transport, ideal for short trips and resulting in fewer vehicle miles traveled, less pollution and congestion, better mobility and more personal health and wellness. For more information about Houston B-cycle, visit houston.bcycle.com or contact info@houstonbikeshare.org.

    About The Memorial Management District
    The Memorial Management District is its own oasis located within a major metropolitan city. It includes the revitalized Memorial City Mall; the highly-regarded Town & Country Village shopping center; the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center; the expanding Memorial Hermann Memorial City Hospital, one of Houston’s premier mixed-use centers; CityCentre; and the Houston Community College Spring Branch campus.  The Memorial Management District encompasses approximately 850 gross acres of land between Bunker Hill Road and the West Sam Houston Toll Road – north and south of the newly expanded Interstate 10, the Katy Freeway. For more information, visit http://www.memorialdistrict.org/.


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