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Can Alta Keep Up Across the U.S.?

December 3, 2012

According to Tim Craig in The Washington Post, Alta is having a hard time keeping up with demand for new and expanding bike share systems.

The District’s long-planned expansion of Capital Bikeshare this fall has hit a snag because the city has been unable to get all of the needed equipment from its supplier, officials said Monday.

For much of the year, D.C. Department of Transportation officials have pledged that the city would be adding an additional 54 bike share stations throughout the city this fall. But with fall almost over, officials are recalibrating their timeline for the expansion.

John Lisle, a DDOT spokesman, said that although some new stations could be installed by the end of the month, many would not be.

“We are still waiting on equipment for the new stations,” Lisle said. “We are hopeful we will be able to get some down by the end of the year, but we will not get all 54 stations installed this year as planned.”

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), the chairwoman of Committee on the Environment, Public Works and Transportation, said she is “very disappointed” by the delay. Cheh said she plans to consult with other officials to try to make sure Capital Bikeshare’s expansion is not slowed by demand from other cities.

Although Craig writes that “It’s unclear wether [sic] the demand from cities such as New York and Chicago could slow down expansion of Capital Bikeshare,” I’d imagine that making sure New York is ready to flip the the switch by March must be taking up a lot of Alta’s oxygen these days.  Because of the different ways bike share systems are funded in cities across the country — private sponsorship in one location, federal funds in another, etc. — the economics may not lend themselves to rapid expansion.  And while Alta’s system may be the iPod of bike share systems — well designed, intuitively easy to use, and cool — the company isn’t some $600-billion corporate behemoth with the ability to call Foxconn to order hundreds of thousands of extra widgets by the end of the week.  Good things come to those who wait, so the Alta — and a bike-share hungry public — may just have to take it one city at a time.

  1. Albert permalink
    December 3, 2012 9:35 pm

    “When I hear the term ‘a bike-share hungry public’, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” — H. G. Wells

    • December 3, 2012 9:39 pm

      Ha! That is the positive side of these delays, no? They are exposing a very deep desire across the U.S. for bike share.

      • Albert permalink
        December 5, 2012 10:25 am

        “Those people who screamed they didn’t want bicycles are now screaming ‘where are they?’”—Michael Bloomberg

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