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  • 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

  • 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.

    17BBVA0431-Twitter

    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.

                


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