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  • Rider Profile: Rosa Guerrero

    by Christin Dietze | Apr 27,2017

    Houston BCycle serves a lot of different purposes for a lot of different people. Some riders just happen upon a station and decide a bike ride could be fun, others use our bikes every day for their commute to work. This month we met a rider who learned how to ride a bike using Houston BCycle and now she's riding from Houston to Austin in her first BP MS150!

    Meet Rosa

    Rosa Guerrero

    Up until last summer, Rosa didn't know how to ride a bike. When a friend convinced her to ride caboose on a tandem bike in a social ride, she got a feel for the sense of freedom that cycling provides and her world was changed.  Without a bike of her own, Rosa started renting BCycles to learn how to ride and get comfortable being on a bike. Standing at only 4'11", Rosa always drops the BCycle seat down as low as it can go before taking off on her usual route that starts at the Market Square Park station and follows the bike trails around Buffalo Bayou Park. In the last year, she's met several other cyclists who have contributed to her love for the hobby. Between participating in social rides and making kind new friends who helped her eventually find a bike of her own, she has completely fallen for Houston's cycling community.

    Rosa Guerrero Profile

    When asked how Houston BCycle helped her, Rosa responded, "Being in recovery from alcohol for over 3 years, I always need to set goals and focus on achieving them. That's the only way I can stay on this journey, and riding bikes has brought me so much joy. I decided to attempt my first MS150 because it is so out of my comfort zone and supports such an incredible cause." She will be riding with the Karbach cycling team on her new Jamis road bike. 

    Rosa

    To donate to Rosa's MS150 fundraising page, click here

  • Houston to Austin on a BCycle

    by Christin Dietze | Apr 19,2017

    Last year, Houston BCycle's Operations Manager, Doogie Roux accepted the challenge of riding in the MS150 on a 50 pound bike share bike. When the first day was rained out, he was disappointed to only get to complete the 70 mile ride from La Grange to Austin. This year, he's not backing down from the challenge, and he has convinced two new co-workers to join him. 

    BCycle MS150

    Christin Dietze, Marketing and Communications Manager for Houston BCycle, and Matt Kocian, who has worked as a BCycle mechanic to keep bikes available in the Houston network, will be joining Roux for the 2017 BP MS150. They're goal is to raise at least $2,500 for the fight against MS while also bringing awareness to the values of bike share, which brings health, environmental and community benefits to any city with a program. In preparation for the ride, this team of three rode 60 miles in the Tour de Houston in March and learned a little more about the pros and cons of a long distance ride on a bike share bike. 
     
    "The large front basket is heavy, but ideal for bringing along beverages and snacks to keep up your energy on a long ride. It even works as an aerobar if you want to lean forward and take some pressure off of your back." according to Roux. 
     
    This will be Dietze's first MS150. "Aside from doing our part in fundraising for MS research, we're also hoping to inspire more people to consider riding in the MS150 regardless of their cycling experience or what type of bike they own. The only modification we'll make to these 3-speed BCycles is swapping out the regular pedals for clips-ins, to add more power to our pedal." she says. 
     
    Kocian is excited to take on his fourth MS150 with a new challenge. "After the Tour de Houston, I was surprised when my arms were more tired than my legs. These big red bikes aren’t built for speed, but I think we'll have a lot of fun completing the ride together."

    MS150 BCycle

    All three riders have friends who have battled or been personally affected by multiple sclerosis. Inspired by how these friends have overcome the challenges of MS, these three are taking on what they consider the ultimate MS150 challenge. 
     
    If you'd like to make a donation to these riders' MS150 fundraising pages, please follow the below links:

     
     
  • Best Q1 Yet and Program Updates for Houston BCycle

    by Christin Dietze | Apr 04,2017


    What a perfect start to 2017 for Houston BCycle! In January we announced a very exciting partnership with BBVA Compass, who sponsored a free ride program during the 10 days of Super Bowl and Free Ride Fridays for 8 weeks after. BBVA Compass gave our riders 5,682 free trips during Super Bowl and another 4,001 during Free Ride Friday, for a total 9,683 free trips on Houston BCycle in only 18 days. This trip count is almost double our regular daily average. While we are sad that the Free Ride Fridays have now come to an end, Houston BCycle is happy to be growing, thanks to our sponsors and the City of Houston.

    Instagram BCycle Post1   BCycle Instagram Post   Instagram Bcycle Group
    BCycle Rider Posts During Free Ride Fridays

    Our expansion kicked off January 23rd at the BBVA Compass partnership announcement and ribbon cutting ceremony for our Crawford Island station near Discover Green. We are now preparing to install four new stations in April. These new stations will be located at Dunlavy & Allen Parkway, Guadalupe Park, Woodland Park, and Main & Wichita. By the end of 2018, we will have installed a total of 71 new stations and added over 650 bikes to our network, so stay tuned! 

    Mayor on BBVA Bike with Houston Bike Share Board - Photo by Doogie Roux
    Mayor on BBVA Bike with Houston Bike Share Board - Photo by Doogie Roux

    We have also extended our hours and now operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This change came April 1st, along with an update in our pricing structure. Our new pricing includes $9 monthly memberships and $99 annual memberships, available online at Houston.BCycle.com, which allow for unlimited 60 minute trips. Usage fees only apply to member trips over 60 minutes, which will accrue a $3 per 30 minutes additional charge. For walk-up users, the per-trip option at is $3 per 30 minutes.

    New Pricing New Bikes

    In Q1 of 2017, Houston BCycle riders took 36,189 trips by 13,801 users. This is a 28.5% increase in trips and 35.5% increase in users over 2016. Now with 24 hour a day operation along with more stations and bikes being added to the Houston BCycle network, we hope to continue to see these numbers grow for the remainder of 2017. 

  • Houston Bike Share Announces New Pricing and 24-Hour Service

    by Carter Stern, Executive Director of Houston Bike Share | Mar 29,2017


    Dear Houston, 

    Houston BCycle is on a roll! Houstonians took 113,252 trips on our bikes last year and 2017 is shaping up to be our best year ever. Our expansion is underway, beginning with the Crawford Island station in January, and we look forward to adding stations at Dunlavy & Allen Parkway, Main & Wichita, Guadalupe Park, and Woodland Park this April. Over the next 18 months, we plan to add 71 new stations and 650 bikes, more than tripling the size of our network.

    Our Price Structure and Hours are Changing

    But in the words of Steve Jobs, “there’s one more thing.” Beginning April 1, 2017, we are changing our pricing structure for the first time ever. Riders will be able to choose a per-trip option at the kiosk, as well as monthly and annual memberships through our website and mobile app.

    The per-trip option at the kiosk will cost $3 per 30 minutes. Period.

    Memberships will cost $9 per month or $99 per year. Both memberships will entitle the riders to free, unlimited 60 minute trips. Member trips lasting longer than 60 minutes will accrue usage fees of $3 per 30 minutes.

    Last but certainly not least, BCycle kiosks will now be open 24 hours a day. 

    Now is the Time to Make a Change

    Our current membership structure is no longer adequate to meets the needs of our users or our aspirations for the system as we invest $4 million over the next 18 months and add 71 stations and at least 650 bikes. With more stations in more places, plus 24-hour service, the program will be infinitely more useful to all our riders.

    These changes are not made lightly. Over the last 18 months, we have wrestled with what price structure will best serve our riders. We considered feedback from current users, weighed these considerations with our desire to make bike share available to a broader audience, and looked to the future of BCycle’s physical footprint in Houston. We learned that many riders found our current pricing structure to be confusing, and wanted a cheaper option for short trips. We also learned that some users wanted a membership that allowed them to pay monthly instead of paying for an entire year upfront. 

    Per-trip pricing brings the cost of a short BCycle trip down to just $3; cheaper than an Uber fare and competitive with the cost of transit. As we continue to add new stations around the City, point-to-point trips will increase and per-trip pricing will facilitate this use. Best of all, this pricing option is easy for new users to understand and makes it very inexpensive to test out BCycle and see what it’s all about.

    The monthly membership was crafted to meet the needs of two users: (1) riders who are not ready to purchase an annual pass but plan on taking more than three 30 minute trips a month, and (2) riders who are unable to afford the upfront cost of an annual membership, but need consistent access to our bikes. For less than double the cost for our current 24-hour membership, roughly $.29 per day, monthly members will be able to take free, unlimited 60 minute trips all month long.

    Finally, our annual membership will cost $99. This increase places the cost of our annual membership in line with the cost in other markets and, at $.27 per day, our annual membership and the unlimited 60 minute trips it buys the holder is a heck of a deal.

    I’m a Current Annual Member, How Does the Change Affect Me?

    If you’re currently an annual member, usage fees on your trips lasting longer than 60 minutes will accrue at the rate of $3 per 30 minutes. When you renew your annual membership, the price will be $99.

    We Want to Hear from You!

    We know that many of you are familiar with our old pricing and may have questions or comments. Let me be very clear - we welcome ALL of your feedback. Good, bad, or indifferent, we want to hear it. At the end of the day, the BCycle program exists to serve all Houstonians and your feedback is critical to our goal of delivering a bike share program worthy of this terrific city and our riders. 

    Bike share has always been about changing the way people navigate their communities and interact with each other. The industry is young, and operators around the country are constantly experimenting, trying to make bike share more useful and accessible to everyone. Houston Bike Share is no different – every day we tinker, refine and experiment in the hope that we can make the Houston BCycle program more useful, accessible and enjoyable to all Houstonians.  Contact us at houston.bcycle.com/contact. 

    Sincerely,
    Carter Stern
    Executive Director
    Houston Bike Share

     

     

     

     

  • 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.

    IMG_4660
    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.

    Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 10.34.20 AM copy

    Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 10.36.33 AM

        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

b-cycle

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