Bike Share & Transportation Planning — With Andy Boenau

Episode 232

Tuesday 17th December 2019


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Andy Boenau


Andy’s Bike Share book:

In this episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast supported by Jenson USA I talked with US transportation planner Andy Boenau. We discussed his new Bike Share book as well as mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), cycle helmets and much more.


To come ….

Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 232 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. The show was published on Tuesday 17th of December 2019.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:00
Hi, I’m Carlton Reid. And on this episode of the spokesman podcast, I’m talking Bike Share with Andy Boenau, Andy is the vice chair of American Planning associations New Urbanism division, and chair of the Institute of Transportation engineers, Transportation Planning Council. That was a long one. Anyway, he’s also a mobility as a service geek. And that’s mess, of course, and we touch upon that in this show, but we’re mainly chatting about his new book on bike sharing. And it Welcome to the show. Welcome to the spokesmen cycling podcast. Now, before we get into your book, and that’s what we’re gonna be talking about your bike share book, let’s talk about and the same

So, who are you? What do you do tell me about kind of like you can be as, as long as brief as you like here, but give me a thumbnail sketch of of you. I’m looking for people in the context of this programme.

Andy Boenau 2:17
I’m looking to help people live happy, healthy lifestyles, and and i it sounds flippant. I don’t mean that in a just everyone’s going to feel happy all the time. But I’ve been fascinated for a long time about the connection between an overlap between the built environment and how people behave.

I’m not a mental health expert, I’m not a

not somebody that understands the science of the body, why we are the way we are, or how our how our brains work and and how things can make us smile.

But I have been in the transportation business for over 20 years and I’ve seen over the years how the work that

I do either makes things worse or makes things better. And same for the industry around me. So
who am I, I’m a person that likes to make up true stories. I, I enjoy people I like people watching.

I made a couple of people. I’ve got two wonderful teenage boys, Drew and Aaron, who I hope will be more propaganda artists,


whatever, whatever it is that their path leads towards. I think both of them are going to end up doing some type of artistic work, which excites me.

Carlton Reid 3:36
You dedicated the book to them, didn’t you? I saw that. I did. Yes.

Andy Boenau 3:41
Yeah. The last book that I did emerging trends and transportation planning was

was to my dad, who he’s in he was in the transportation business for decades before retiring, and a couple years ago, and like any teenage boy when when I was

My kids age, I just assumed I’m never going to do the type of work that my dad does. Because he’s my Dad, why would I follow in his footsteps, I’m going to do something completely different. And then I ended up going to get a civil engineering degree that he helped pay for. And then started in traffic engineering. And then over the years got closer and closer to his type of work with mass transportation. And at some point in time, we kept running into each other that would say, that’s an unusual last name. Do you know this other beno? And of course, we did. So.

Yeah, fascinating in that sense. So when it came time to actually published something I was looking back at, or thinking back on my career and realising Wow, I did not understand fully as a young professional, just how much my dad was pulling for me, which was, I guess it’s the type of thing that you see with age that the kind of thing that a young man might not necessarily see but as you get older and

You start picking up on those things. So yeah, and then come coming for around this time putting thoughts together around bicycling, bicycling, infrastructure and bike share. One of the things that I’m constantly thinking about whether it’s walkable or bikable infrastructure is the ability or inability for little people to be able to move around. So as I thought back and looking through pictures of

my van little guys having to hang on my hand or be nearby crossing the street and just teaching them what I saw as obvious like here’s why this intersection is really comfortable to walk across. Here’s why this sidewalks comfortable. Here’s why we feel miserable right now, and why our heads are on a swivel and we’re constantly in a panic and so since since they are very aware of my biases, and they’ve been a part of that kind of

thinking out loud exercise of the

The connection between the built environment and how we how we are as humans. I thought, of course, of course I need to have this for them.

Carlton Reid 6:09
So you mentioned a minute ago, mass transportation, but there’s also Mass Transportation as in MaaS. So mobility as a service, which I see from your profile you’re into as well. So I’ve had

the founders of MaaS on on the show before, but you give me give me your profile of how you consider

abilities or service working and how it fits into bicycling.

Andy Boenau 6:41
Yeah, good question. And I’m glad that you connect those two because I definitely think that that bicycling and in particular bike share is an important part. And if we, the play on words, I suppose would be mass appeal.

I would define mobility as a service as

something that really

has three key ingredients. And I don’t think that there’s anything newsworthy or shocking about what I think the three ingredients are. But it’s I think it’s important that there are these three, rather than just, it’s car share, or it’s Bike Share. I think I think mobility as a service is something where a customer can with a single app, plan, their trip and the route that they take the path. And then the second thing is they can choose from a variety of vehicles. So that might be a scooter, a bicycle, a car, a bus or a train a plane, you know, whatever the thing is, and that payment collection is taken care of all within that same interface. So there are a whole lot of aspects of that of mobility as a service and public and private combinations and big brands and little brands. But I think that’s the core that’s what’s important is it’s it’s that very customer focused transportation opportunity. Its customer focused in the

sense that you want someone to be able to easily see all their options and make all the decisions. And then you know, thinking ahead somebody with my bias at once walkable bikable streets and I know the same for you. Bike Share is is a huge part of that because we want bike share at the the lower speed city friendly opportunities, we want that to be an easy and convenient choice for customers.

Carlton Reid 8:26
I mean, we talk a lot about I say talk a lot about Paris and we talk about the changes that have come from there. I absolutely put a lot of that down to believe. I think the changes that that have now become apparent in Paris and that they are amazing changes with a whole load of bike paths and and and banning cars from certain major roads, etc. that has all come after villig pretty much was out there.

Kind of

Making the way for all these other changes. Would you say that’s fair? Would you say that that’s happened in North America too? Or is it something that’s still to come?

Andy Boenau 9:08
I think in the denser urban environments, you’re absolutely right.

I think it, I think it could be it could also you can also make a case that

the bus in the traditional sense, not necessarily the traditional vehicle that looks like a bus, but mass transit, fixed route buses could also be one of those backbones. I do think, though, that the bicycling is a key ingredient in that and it’s

unfortunately, it’s not as robust in North America. I think that’s going to change in the very near future as connected and autonomous technology takes off. I’m I know I’m on the fringe of my fellow members of the all powerful bike lobby when i when i support things like autonomous technology, but I really do think that that

Going to help get people in and back to or in from and back to further remote areas, it’s going to help people that are in the less dense areas in suburbia, connect to transit lines connect to bike share opportunities, where they don’t have them right now, so we won’t have to have, you know, a rural ish county have 5000 bicycles so that there’s enough to reach everybody will be able to bring people in front with autonomous shuttles and, and other forms of shared transport that, again, are hopefully part of mobility as a service offerings and get them in closer that bike share. But yeah, that bike share i think is critical.

Carlton Reid 10:40
That although I would pretty much agree with you there, as long as the the autonomous vehicles didn’t have to interact with either the pedestrians or the cyclists. So it almost sounds as though you’re talking about exterior to the city hubs, where the autonomous vehicles come in from the outside, drop at a hub and then you go on to

Other forms of mass transport? Is that is that what you’re talking about? Or do you envisage autonomous vehicles interacting in the same space as bicyclists and with pedestrians? I think what you described is ideal. And I think about it in terms of,

Andy Boenau 11:17
I mean, I generally frame mobility, in in terms of freedom, that’s one of my biases, I want people to have the freedom to move around using whatever mode is available to them and what they prefer. So, walking being the primary, the ultimate, if people are able to walk they should be able to walk if people and then the next step from that would be walking on the seat of a bicycle, right? pedalling. So those are critical, those are the fundamental modes of transport and, and I think they should be absolutely provided for. I want people to have the freedom to choose those things. I also want people to have the freedom if they so choose to

Purchase a big pickup truck or some other personal automobile. The difference is where I say this issue of freedom doesn’t mean you then have the freedom to aggress on everyone else. So if I have friends over and they’re wearing muddy boots outside, because it’s raining, I absolutely want them to be able to wear those muddy boots, if that’s the best part of their outfit to get to where I live, but when they come inside, they don’t exercise the freedom to wear whatever they want. They don’t then tread around the living room with their muddy boots on they leave them at the door. I think it’s that same kind of thing with motor vehicles in dense urban areas. So I think it’s an absolutely compatible kind of belief system to promote freedom of mobility and say, in a dense area. The cars don’t belong in this little area. I mean, at some point, we all agree that you shouldn’t drive on a sidewalk. I don’t think it’s a stretch then to back up a little bit further and

Say these places where these these intersections in in urbanised areas, they used to be a big deal. They weren’t just where cars were turning left and right. This is where you had the exchange of ideas and commerce and all those good things that we know about cities for thousands of years. So I think to the extent that we can bring people to and from those areas with different types of autonomy, whether it’s shuttles or or trains or smaller cars or pods, I think those details will work out as the technology evolves. But I completely agree that when you get to those lower speed environments, you just it’s it’s dangerous. We know that we’re introducing danger when we mix those speed differentials

Carlton Reid 13:47
So, Andy, are you into carrot or stick and mix of the two or should the never be stick.

Andy Boenau 13:56
I think my stick looks like a carrot.

I think there needs I think there needs to be both. I think it also depends. I mean, I, I enjoy sometimes taking people’s comments out of context. So I very aware that I could say there should be both. And then I myself will say, here’s a specific opportunity where a stick just isn’t going to work. So I guess we could, that could go that could be applied in different ways. You could talk about policy issues you could talk about when you’re dealing with private property, like if it’s a university campus, that’s that’s privately owned and operated, you know, everything on there as private.

But I think in general, if you’re talking about changing behaviour, and how we make things, how we make this stuff happen, if you’re a local government, and this is true, I can say this definitely, through most of North America, I’m not sure that how true this is in in European cities, but throughout North America and especially the US, local governments generally controlled

Their own streets. So

I think it’s perfectly reasonable expectation if you’re the local public works department, and it’s your job to provide safe streets, clean streets, then if you see something that needs to be done some way to modify your street network to make the streets safer, and more accessible and more accommodating for all your people, all ages and abilities, that sort of thing, then you do it. And I think then the way that you communicate with people is not to say, Hey, we’re going to put out a vote and ask everyone, do you want safer streets? If so, then check this box and we’ll go ahead and put some safe bike infrastructure. If you don’t care about safe streets, check this other box and we’ll just leave it as it is 12 foot wide lanes and 45 mile an hour speed limit. I think if you’re the local public works department, it’s it’s your job to make those things safe. So that’s not a top down kind of oppressive mentality towards infrastructure. That’s

Those people signing on to make their city a great place. And if the residents who don’t, who live there, don’t appreciate the way that the roads are being handled, then there are a bunch of ways to speak up about that. I think where we misstep with this, the idea of changing travel behaviour is it’s it’s kind of a stutter step where we’ll go forward. And when I say we, I mean advocates of low speed streets and bicycling infrastructure and walking infrastructure,

will put forward some ideas that we’ve seen online or we’ve seen experienced in other cities. And then we’ll quickly step back when a local business person says, I think car parking is the key. If you lose in a car parking spots, we’re going to lose business. And then we’re very quick to pull back and say, Oh, sorry, didn’t didn’t want to offend anybody. Don’t worry, don’t worry what we said about the bike lanes, it’s not going to happen. We’re not going to put any bike corrals or bike share systems in here. So I think, you know, all the way back to your question, I think

It’s it’s both it’s you need to have. You need to have policies if you’re the local government to make your streets safe, and then you need to go ahead and take the initiative to do it. If you make bicycling and walking easy and convenient, we know people will do that. We know people inside of a shopping mall, for example, will walk extraordinary lengths. So it’s not the walking, that’s the thing. But

we can put in tonnes of bike lanes, we can put in wider sidewalks, etc, etc. But if there are people in these, you know, 14 foot high cars out there at the moment, still able to use the streets that were all mixing with. Well, that infrastructure is not going to work so that the stick has got to be used and made quite big. Because it there almost seems to be like a constitutional right in the US to drive everywhere and

If that’s the thoughts of lots of people that I should be able to drive everywhere, it’s going to be incredibly tough to encourage people into all these forms of other forms of transport. If you’re not using that big stick and actually getting people out of those cars by force. Yeah, you’re right. And I think, well, and maybe it’s not out of the cars, maybe it’s just how they’re operated. I think we, as Americans, especially misuse the term freedom and we miss use the phrase individual liberty, I think more Americans need to consider the non aggression principle. You can purchase, let’s say a Hummer, you know, a really large, oversized ridiculous vehicle, purchase your own vehicle, you have the right to purchase that vehicle. If you live in downtown Washington, DC, you’re not going to be able to drive that thing very far. It’s going to be really challenging to navigate anywhere and

It could be that the local government where you work decides there are certain streets that are off limits the cars, you don’t have the right to drive that thing, 50 miles an hour on 25 mile an hour streets, you don’t have the right to speed through because then you’re aggressive on other people, you’re introducing a dangerous situation to people around you. So yes, you have a freedom to purchase a thing. But you don’t have the freedom to use it however you want, if it’s going to aggress on others, and then that same line of thinking can be extended towards, you know, what, what type of pollution comes out the back of it? Is there some kind of air quality control in place? So I think there are a lot of things around this idea of non aggression principle that are completely compatible with individual liberty. It’s just we like to abuse that phrase. So whatever it happens to be at the moment that we want, we say, Well, I have the freedom to have that or I have the freedom to say no to that. It’s we have to think beyond ourselves. I mean, there you

Yes, individual liberty and treat people around you.

Carlton Reid 20:03
Well, Andy, you’re the chair of the Institute of Transportation engineers transportation. That’s a big long word. big long phrase Transportation Planning Council, but i t t p. Wow. That’s that that’s a long meeting just to get people around the table around that. So given you the share of that, but given the fact that you’re for one to kind of like shorten it down into your people friendly transportation planner, how unusual a you now, or do you think the way you’ve been talking from from for 20 odd years, is now coming into the mainstream in your profession? Well, I guess it depends. If you’re asking if I’m normal, it depends who you ask. In terms of the it membership.

Andy Boenau 20:54
One thing that I found very interesting and I’ve told other the others in it, even

Public This is not some kind of secret conversation that is now being publicly revealed. But there was a period of time when I was seriously considering ending my membership both with the Institute of Transportation engineers and American Planning Association and similar reasons and it was both. I was frustrated with both organisations that seemed to be more concerned about self preservation. And they were just stuffy environments. That was my perception. And that was my personal experience for a period of time.

And I was approached by one of the leaders who asked if I would help by participating in the Transportation Planning Council, and the conversation went kind of like this.

U 21:45
Andy, there are a bunch of people that I’ve talked with that have expressed similar concerns to you, but as as your concerns, they don’t say them publicly because they’re afraid of consequences. And so they’re alive.

These people out there, they just need somebody to help pull them together. So that was kind of that’s that was the beginning of a conversation that was fascinating to me and then kind of struck me right back into it.

Because I was starting to see okay, there are, there are other people who are the scales are coming off their eyes like me. I didn’t. I don’t have my biases about infrastructure and freedom and mobility. Because I’m so smart. I asked a load of dumb questions over the years, so that my bosses didn’t have to do my work for me. And as I was asking all these dumb questions, why this? Why that why not roundabouts? All these kinds of things. I kept hearing over and over again, the answer is we’re what we do this because that’s why we we’ve always done this. Our fathers fathers did this. And so we continue.

And, and I saw this opportunity where other people were starting to ask those questions, but very quietly, because, you know, they’re concerned about employment. They’re wondering if my what happens if I question my

Boss, how do I question my boss? How can I do these things respectfully, how can I?

How can I work for a particular client that is insisting on a certain type of design when I know that design is dangerous?

And so these kinds of questions were coming up more and more and and I was definitely not alone in that I am not alone and that there are a lot of people that are asking these kinds of questions. And I credit in large part, the internet. I mean, they I say all the time I tell my kids this regularly, the internet is amazing. It’s fantastic. It’s it’s, you see people pile on about how, how social media can be toxic and there are aspects of it that can be but if you if you just keep your attention in the right direction and put those other, you know, close the door on some of the darker areas. It’s fantastic. You can connect with anybody and share ideas all the time. So like you and I can talk about places all around the world that are altering how people move around in dense urban areas and people are exploring ways to

to convert buses into smaller

modular autonomous shuttles, and we can see these things and share these things with others in an in a new kind of way. And then coming back to membership of it, you can see All right, here’s an organisation where the mission is how do we advance transportation and serve the public interest? And so that’s what members of the Transportation Planning Council are thinking about is how do we as planners, how do we how do we approach technology? How do we approach mobility as a service? How do we approach things like bike share and you know, whatever the whatever the old and new things are, how do we do all of this in a way that serves the public interest? That’s customer focused?

Carlton Reid 24:37
Okay, similar question coming at it in a slightly different way.

Transportation engineers, as a body

are getting younger because the older guys have a naturally retiring. So do you think that refreshing of the gene pool if

Andy Boenau 25:00
You like, will just naturally over time, lead to changes to people friendly infrastructure because the younger guys who are coming through the industry now, I can be much more in tune with your kind of points of view, compared to, you know what you’re saying about? Well, that’s how my father used to do it. You know, 20 years ago, I tell, you know, my people used to do this job, I used to do it. So the new thinking is going to change stuff. I understand what you’re saying. And I don’t think it says it’s, I don’t think it’s that easy. Um, I would like to say yes, I’ve, I’ve encountered plenty of the stereotypical millennial who has ideas about terrible infrastructure. I have. So just anecdotally, I think this is what’s going on young people come out of school and start working as transportation engineers, traffic engineers, city planners. They are excited

About what they learned in school, they may have been exposed to Jane Jacobs and other people who now are embraced by planners. But, you know, decades ago, these were people who were at direct odds with city planners and traffic engineers. So they come out of the university inspired, excited, they’re going to make things better, they’re going to get more more butts on bikes, they’re going to get people riding the bus again. They’re going to they’re going to retrofit suburbia. And then they start working. And they had, they’re working with nice people who say, Look, that’s, that’s a good idea. It’s just not practical. And then they see project after project where the clients are saying, Yeah, we don’t want that. We want this over here. We need to widen from four lanes and six lanes and it’s there are what seemed to be convincing arguments that that’s what it’s got to be, you know, you’ve got to serve level of service. You need less vehicular delay, that sort of thing. And so then what happens is, the young people coming out of school are trained by Gen Xers. My

And then even older. So you know, boomers are still on the scene. So you’ve got, you’ve got mentors who still have the very

car centric design in mind, and they’re training the young people. So I think it’s a mixture. That’s not to say that they’re completely squashed. Some of them I think have been but I don’t think it’s as as easy or?

Unknown Speaker 27:23
Yeah, I just I think it’s I think it’s still going to be, we still have this challenge of persuading people of all ages that this is doable.

Unknown Speaker 27:33
One, one thing that is a little bit exciting and probably counterintuitive, it was to me anyway, is I keep encountering people that are closer towards closer to retirement, who are very open minded to walkable bikable infrastructure. And my feeling is, that’s because they have less pressure. They, they care less about what other people think. So if you’re 16

Unknown Speaker 28:00
Five years old and still on the job, you don’t really care as much if someone rolls their eyes at you about your idea for a protected bike lane, is when you were 25 years old, and you’re worried about what everybody thinks you want to make sure that you stay employed. Right? So I, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting how the generations are viewing

Unknown Speaker 28:22
new transportation opportunities. And the manuals also have to change not just the personnel is the fact you’ve got these very strict design manuals, which tell you, you know, all sorts of different things and if you if you you can’t divert away from these things. So is that something that also takes an awful long time to change? I think manuals themselves do take a long time to change. Yes, and that and that’s one of the reasons why I had so many issues with professional organisations is it seemed like they part of their existence was to simply put out

Unknown Speaker 28:55
these humongous doorstop textbooks that

Unknown Speaker 29:00
That were Delta read and terrible on the environment. You know, they they were methods to make our infrastructure worse.

Unknown Speaker 29:09
So, I think, and this is this is me speaking not a professional organisation that I am affiliated with speaking, but I think in a lot of places, make perhaps every place just start with what you know, is painfully obvious. What when I walk around with my kids in certain areas, they’ll say, I mean, they’re they’re teenagers now, but when they were young, they could point out easily dead, I can’t cross that street, and they were right, or dead. I don’t think I should ride my bike on the sidewalk. It’s too bumpy.

Unknown Speaker 29:43
Kids get this stuff. You don’t have to be a traffic engineer to understand intersection operations and you don’t have to be a a licenced engineer to, to design a comfortable bike path. In fact, it’s probably beneficial. If you’re not if you’ve

Unknown Speaker 30:00
Never seen a manual and you just say, You know what? My bike is about this wide. my elbows stick out here. I need some more space and that like you could figure out pretty quickly a novice could how wide it comfortable bicycle lane should be. So in terms of the manuals, yes, I think

Unknown Speaker 30:18
if there’s one thing you should, you should delay in your professional work. It’s cracking open a manual. It’s just start with what’s common sense what makes sense for people to move around. And then you can easily backcheck is this legal? Oh, yeah, it is legal. Turns out it is quite legal to have a 10 foot wide lane. So let’s get into your book. So we’ve talked about you let’s now talk about the thing that you’ve just written. So I’ll actually work it’s Bike Share, is that that’s a pretty simple title. But I’ll then just read out the subhead and the subtitle on that site planning business models ridership and regulations and I like this bit of the most, most Miss

Unknown Speaker 31:00
Dude form of modern transportation.

Carlton Reid 31:03
So when you say most misunderstood for modern transportation, is that bike share itself? Or is that cycling? Or was that both? Both? My my focus was on bike share, but I’d say I’d say both.

Andy Boenau 31:15
I was getting a little bit of flack for this on Twitter, but I’ll stand by it.

Unknown Speaker 31:19
The point of it is

Unknown Speaker 31:23
we, you know, you talk with anybody about about traffic, and it, comedians have been pointing this out for forever that anybody, anybody that has a driver’s licence is a traffic engineer. And that’s certainly true. Everybody has these ideas about how modern transportation works, what we need, what we don’t need. Now with ride sharing services like Uber and lift, it’s, it’s even more pervasive that everybody’s an expert. And yet, when it comes to bicycling, it’s still kind of the fringe recreational thing, and then even when people visit a major

Unknown Speaker 32:00
metropolitan area in the US, for example, and an experienced bike share for themselves, and then they come back home and they talk about it. It’s, it’s kind of like it’s part of the experience of you know, I went I stayed in this Airbnb, I use this bike share, it was pretty cool. And then I did this other thing. So it still feels like recreation. If you’re not in an area where you’re, you’re able to see this regularly. So in terms of bike share, that’s what I’m thinking about why it’s it’s a misunderstood form of transportation. It’s it’s also things like this assumption that if you put any number of bicycles out to be shared, then it should either work or not, like if it works, then people like Andy were right. And if nobody uses the 10 bicycles in the city with a million people well Bike Share was back sure doesn’t work. That guy was wrong. It’s just people don’t understand its purpose. The bicycling is transport, and bike share how it can and and then in certain ways how it won’t work.

Unknown Speaker 33:00
So that was my thinking along this, I realised that if you’re a traffic engineer, or some type of city planner, maybe maybe your review site plans that you may know already a lot about this, you may be very familiar with some of the things I referenced in here like naccho, or some other design guides.

Unknown Speaker 33:21
One of the reasons that I wrote this, though, was it I kept hearing over and over and over again, and not necessarily by professionals, the same several questions around bikeshare. And so what I wanted to do was put together basically a frequently asked question, you know, my responses to the FAQ for these things that come up over and over and over again, without getting into an academic exercise where I’m researching on my own and then referencing specific data sets, but just getting right to the point of the issues that people bring up. So your book, do you think it’s mainly

Carlton Reid 34:00
About doct bike share, so cities are going to be putting in

Unknown Speaker 34:06
this form of infrastructure probably subsidised or do you see bikes

Unknown Speaker 34:13
coexisting with the the Chinese model of bike share that you know that the Mobikes of this world you know which which in some ways have come and gone but they’re they’re still there in some cities and potentially littering the sidewalk is still a concept that that troubles many cities. So what kind of bike share Do you think you’re you’re talking about in your book so good.

Andy Boenau 34:40
That’s a good question and I touched on each of them

Unknown Speaker 34:45
docked as in kind of the the original heavy anchor bolted into the ground stations kiosks where the payment is and then dockless where it’s just a free for all the free roaming and then the hybrid.

Unknown Speaker 35:00
Which we’re seeing much more of where the technology is in the bicycle, but they’re being parked at hubs. So when I first started jotting down ideas for this, we still in the US had thousands and thousands of the pure free roaming the Chinese model all around. And then by the time you know, by even like right now, today, end of October 2019, they still exist, but they’re, they look very different. And the companies that operate them are thinking about the operations in a very different way. It’s there, they’re not so much on the market exposure

Unknown Speaker 35:40
angle that they were when they first burst onto the scene.

Unknown Speaker 35:44
I mean, it was it wasn’t that long ago, when all of a sudden everybody in the US was saying, whoa, there’s bikes everywhere. And then a few months later, we’re all going Oh, there’s bikes everywhere. because like you said, it was literally it was they weren’t they weren’t useful.

Unknown Speaker 36:00
What I think I mean, I touch on each of these I touch on the different trade offs associated with each type of model, I think for the future of bikeshare. In the US anyway. And I mean, I would, I would assume that this is true just generally because it’s, I think people

Unknown Speaker 36:17
react to the environment around them in similar ways, wherever we are in the world, even in the really, really dense environments.

Unknown Speaker 36:25
We like things that look nice. We, we generally don’t like to see piles of junk. And we generally don’t like to see someone’s yard with debris in it or a place of business or work or worship with junk piled up around it. We kind of like things neat. I mean, even when people park their cars in a gravel lot, they tend to park them in an orderly way, even though that you know, they might be at an apple orchard. And this they still kind of organise where they park so I think the future of

Unknown Speaker 37:00
Bike Share for successful Bike Share, I, I would go further than say i think i would say i the evidence shows we know that these things need to be organised. So if, if I’m going to use if I’m going to be part of a fleet of shared bicycles, I need to know that if I walk down certain streets, certain corridors, it’s predictable, it’s visible, I know where to find bicycles. And I don’t have to pull up my phone, throw out the thoughts and prayers hashtag that I’m going to find a bike somewhere nearby. So I think that free roaming model is behind us. The veil exists exist, yes, but there’ll be the exception. The future is we’ve got this amazing technology batteries are getting smaller and lighter weight. So you can have so much tech inside of a bicycle itself, you know, built in the frames, that we can track them as if they were free roaming, but when it comes time to park them, they’re organised and then now with mobility as a service. Start

Unknown Speaker 38:00
evolve will be able to have these shared mobility hubs where you can have the the organised way to park the shared bike. You’ll also for a time anyway have shared scooters, the mopeds, the autonomous pods, you know, whatever the thing is train station, you’ll have car parking. So I think organisation is is going to be key.

Carlton Reid 38:21
But that was my next question actually. And that is your book is called Bike Share. But the the up and coming thing or not the up and coming It’s absolutely there. And millennials, everybody is on these things in the cities where they are. And almost, I’m saying almost almost Bancshares old hat because you’ve got bird and lime. And the other companies offering scooters, which you just hop on. And they’re like a little car because you just you just you just press a button and off you where’s where’s the bicycle even a bike share bike with

Unknown Speaker 39:00
Electric Power on, you still have to pedal. So that’s kind of old fashioned. Do you not think when you’ve got the burden the lines and the whiz bang scooters out there?

Andy Boenau 39:14
In some ways, it is old fashion. It and at the same time it’s not going anywhere.

Unknown Speaker 39:21
The bicycle I mean, it’s not going anywhere. I think electric scooters have a place. I’m a I’m a fan. I’m a huge fan. I mean no, like I said before, of choice, I want people to have freedom of mobility choice. So there are places where scooters are probably going to be around for a long, long time. I think controlled campuses like universities are big corporate centres. Those are quite logical.

Unknown Speaker 39:45
Certain downtown cores, but then there are a lot of places where it just doesn’t make sense. If I this is coming from somebody who rides scooters when they’re available. I bikes and scooters. One of my

Unknown Speaker 40:00
challenges on a scooter is if if I want to be carrying something in my hand and you know motorists put earmuffs on right now, if I want to have my my drink that I’ve got, you know, the to go cup from the restaurant at lunch, I need to hold that in one hand while I’m writing. I’m not going to do that on a scooter because it’s a thumb throttle. It’s too wobbly. I’m going to fall. If I’m on a bike.

Unknown Speaker 40:23
That’s easy peasy. You know, a bike is bigger, it’s more stable. You can carry groceries on it if you need to. There’s just there’s so much about the bicycle. That is a lot more practical

Unknown Speaker 40:39
than a scooter. So a scooter has a good purpose it It fills a role.

Unknown Speaker 40:45
But it’s not the same. It’s it’s compatible with and different from the bicycle.

Carlton Reid 40:50
Now, here’s the question that I know troubles a lot of cities because they’ve got various rules and regulations against this and

Unknown Speaker 41:00
Their their state their country, whatever and that helmet so where do you stand on the use of bicycle helmets for Bike Share systems in the full knowledge that an awful lot of cities who’ve who’ve put bike share in have discovered it didn’t really work that well because we’re forcing people to wear helmets.

Andy Boenau 41:18
Yeah this is

Unknown Speaker 41:21
the it’s probably the biggest one is probably the biggest elephant the room. I think we can talk about politics, religion and sex more freely than we can helmets.

Unknown Speaker 41:33
That said, I’m happy to add to the list we can talk about all four of those of you like

Unknown Speaker 41:39
I, I don’t think anybody should ever be forced to wear a bicycle helmet. I think we

Unknown Speaker 41:46
the trap that we fall into and and this is especially true in the US and I know Australian cities are suffering from this right now too.

Unknown Speaker 41:53
We have we have this idea this perceived safety of wearing a foam hat

Unknown Speaker 42:01
And in people, you’ll hear this all the time. And I don’t try to argue with this an anecdote about what a bicycle a bicycle helmet saved my life. Let me tell you how maybe it did, maybe it didn’t.

Unknown Speaker 42:14
According to the science behind how those foam hats are constructed, probably didn’t save your life. But I’m not going to tell a person don’t wear the foam hat with the little pieces of plastic on it. I’m not going to say that. If a person feels more comfortable doing that, then by all means, do that. We know that when a government agency forces a person to wear a certain type of clothing, when they ride a bicycle, that fewer people ride the bicycle. And then I think the bigger issue that kind of the ground level issue really for this is it’s not about what you’re wearing. It’s not about

Unknown Speaker 42:55
the reflectivity of your shirt or the type of light

Unknown Speaker 43:00
The hand signals that you use that an intersection or whatever is on your head. The fundamental issue is we have high speed car traffic, mixing with bicycle traffic and mixing with pedestrian foot traffic. Those things shouldn’t be mixing. So if we keep designing streets where it’s easy for a motorist and comfortable to drive 4045 miles an hour, in the same environment, where people are bicycling at about 12 miles per hour, 15 miles per hour, we’re going to always have a problem. And another issue it’s not helmets but same kind of thing that pops up over and over again, is distracted walking. Or, as most of us call it, walking, that distracted walking isn’t the dangerous speeding drivers of the danger. So um, I think the cult of high visibility, Mothers Against helmet, lust children, these are their good intentions.

Unknown Speaker 44:00
But they’re misguided. Fix the streets make the streets good for riding bicycles. And then you’ll see places like Copenhagen where, you know, even in the miserable weather by it by us standards. People are writing all the time, as I say the best protection against you know, the elements when you’re riding bikes on as far as your head goes is where good hair gel. That’s what I do.

Carlton Reid 44:24
I didn’t see that in your book.

Andy Boenau 44:28
But that’s coming next. That’s coming in the 365.

Carlton Reid 44:33
The the tweeted a book that’ll be next. Okay, so who’s your book for Andy, who were you hoping to read your book and who you’re hoping to actually benefit from your book?

Andy Boenau 44:47
I would love for people who I was something I that I included in the beginning of the book was, if this provokes you, to challenge, one thing that you thought was true, then

Unknown Speaker 45:00
I feel like I’ve done something good. Even if you don’t end up agreeing with something that I put aside on purpose, you know, like you mentioned about helmets, I, I’m purpose include that in here and a little bit behind it and then some resources around helmets.

Unknown Speaker 45:14
I want people to challenge what they already believe, so that they’re stronger in their own belief. Or they realise, Oh, you know what?

Unknown Speaker 45:25
I don’t I’m not sure where I formed that belief. But now that I’ve now that I consider this other point of view, I’m leaning this way. If that just happens one time, then then I’m happy. And then the other type of person, if you’re just if you’re asking these questions, because you’re intrigued, and this comes up, you know, Bike Share, especially thanks to the dockless boom in the in the US especially were there. They were everywhere. So many people it’s a mainstream topic Bike Share. Three years ago, I had to explain to people what a dockless bike was or what a bike share programme how that could operate in a mid sized city.

Unknown Speaker 46:00
Now people just get it. They know what bike shares. So if this book can help you have one good conversation with somebody to try to bring, you know, introduce bike share or expand bike share in your community, then I’m going to be thrilled. So those are the types of people that people that are that have some kind of active interest, either they want to sharpen an idea and challenge the idea. Or they’re looking for an opportunity to make their community better. And so you know, whether that angle is public health, or strong local economy or freedom for your kids,

Unknown Speaker 46:37
then that’s, that’s the kind of person that I want to read this.

Carlton Reid 46:42
And when somebody who’s been inspired to put a system in, because they’ve read your book,

Unknown Speaker 46:51
and then they start putting stations in or they put in the hybrid models.

Unknown Speaker 46:56
They’re going to look at where does bicycle usages hi

Unknown Speaker 47:00
Right now, that seems pretty obvious. And then they might ignore certain areas. So they might ignore

Unknown Speaker 47:08
the non middle class areas,

Unknown Speaker 47:13
minority areas. So how do you get a city to put in an incredibly fair Bike Share system that isn’t just in these certain locations where they think it ought to be?

Andy Boenau 47:31
That’s a good question. And it’s something that that planners have been wrestling with for several years.

Unknown Speaker 47:38
for pretty much every types of service. The same, the same conversation has gone on for many years around transit around around mass transit and the bus, where bus stops are and where they aren’t. whether or not their sidewalks around bus stop. So this the issue of giving all people access is really important.

Unknown Speaker 48:00
I’m not the first person to say this, but I like saying it that the bicycle is the great social equaliser, we look back at pictures is great with places like, to be able to see pictures from 100 years ago where you could tell just from the clothing and the pictures, that very poor and very wealthy people were side by side on bicycles and walking in city streets. It’s fantastic to see that.

Unknown Speaker 48:27
So now, the challenge is the challenge, like you said, is actually implementing so the idea has been around. People have talked around this idea how do you make it accessible to all these different groups? And I think there are a couple of different issues that have to be

Unknown Speaker 48:43
worked out, head on. One of them is who’s operating the bike share programme? And one of the things I you know, I described different business models of bike share. I don’t say I don’t put a judgement value on this one is good and this other one is wrong.

Unknown Speaker 49:00
You just have to understand, wherever you operate in however you operate, you’re going to have a different way of reaching different communities. And especially if it’s a low income area.

Unknown Speaker 49:12
So if, for example, your local government that operates its own bike share, if you’re the city or the county that’s responsible for locating the bike share stations, and making sure that the bikes are there and all that sort of thing. You have to understand that just like mass transit, it’s not going to pay for itself. If you already know it’s just math, right? If you know that this is a low income neighbourhood or a moderate income neighbourhood, there’s just not going to be enough usage. So you might do things like

Unknown Speaker 49:42
for certain you know, if you live in a certain apartment complex or

Unknown Speaker 49:47
however you do if you if you come from a you go to the community college and you show your ID you get discounted passes you can there been measures in place for a long time to have that sort of system in place, discounted passes or you enter in

Unknown Speaker 50:00
code on the back of the bike, and you get free access. And those types of things can be done without any stigma. Nobody has to know that you’re paying less than the person next to you. So you can have, you can have the wealthiest person in your neighbourhood, check out a bike for $8 an hour, and then the person next to them is getting it for free. And the two of them don’t have to know what each other pays or doesn’t pay. So their methods to do that. What what happens, I think where we keep falling short in the us is we go back and forth between who’s operating and who’s making the decisions. Is it public, or is it private? And so, a public agency will say, we want you the private company that’s delivering Bike Share, we want you to service all these areas, which of course makes sense, right? This is these are all members of the community. We want you to cover all these neighbourhoods and we want you to stay in business for three years we have this contract with you. Now if you’re the private business you want ridership you it doesn’t matter

Unknown Speaker 51:00
You What type of person’s writing you know what their personal background is you want people to write, it’s good for business.

Unknown Speaker 51:08
If you’re in a neighbourhood where you’re just not generating revenue, if you’re then it doesn’t make sense to fill it with bicycles. So what cities need to understand is if it’s cut if coverage is the the important issue, which it is an important issue, then you have to take measures to make sure whether it’s your contract covers for that. So you the city are subsidising it, or there’s some other way to make this work for the business because most of the companies if you’re dealing with this on a on a private side, where it’s a private operator, they’re not a charity, they have to make a profit. If they don’t make a profit, then they can’t build bicycles, they can’t fix the bikes, they can’t put them on the streets. You know, they can’t provide Bike Share. So it’s it is a challenge. I think the way that it has to get worked out is is understanding and just talking frankly, about what

Unknown Speaker 52:00
What does it cost to operate bike share? bike share is not free just like driving a car is not free we have in our minds that it’s free, but there are so many expenses behind

Unknown Speaker 52:11
anything that we do related to transportation. One of my reasons for being so optimistic though about bike share and bike share for for everyone, wherever, whatever their socio economic background is, whatever,

Unknown Speaker 52:25
whatever their origin or whichever neighbourhood they happen to be living in, across the US or, you know, anywhere bike shares, is

Unknown Speaker 52:34
being part of mobility as a service to bring it full circle back to what you said at the beginning. Having modes mixed together is far more profitable than one offs. So

Unknown Speaker 52:47
it’s much harder for 10 different companies to be competing for customers, when they’re all providing different modes. They all have different apps. They all have different service areas and fee structures.

Unknown Speaker 53:00
So if you’re a customer, your head spinning, you already have a handful of transportation apps, you don’t want to have to download now a bunch of other ones. So the sooner we get to this, this,

Unknown Speaker 53:12
this opportunity with an a single app, being able to access all these things, the public bus, the private bike, share the public Bike Share,

Unknown Speaker 53:21
the train, food, all these things mixed together. The sooner the better. And it’s profitable for businesses when they can combine those different types of services. So it’s an it’s a perk for employees. So if you’re a big employer in a certain area,

Unknown Speaker 53:37
you can offer these mobility packages to your employees where you’re paying for the system. You’re You’re chipping in month after month to access maybe it’s a handful of cars, and then also bikes and scooters and all these other all these other devices. But that’s that’s one way where we’re going to be able to provide far more coverage for the underserved neighbourhoods is being able to combine these modes together.

Carlton Reid 54:02
Okay, thank you. Now where can people get the book? And how do people find you on on the internet?

Andy Boenau 54:12
Thanks for thanks for asking. It’s easy to find me online. The book is I made a short link that’s that’s easy to find, but it’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble if you search bikeshare book, it’ll pop up in both of those. Shockingly, there was only one other

and then this is the first pocket sized one it’s a digital one. So it’s gonna it’s going to fit in in phones and tablets of all sizes and abilities so it’s perfect.

You can find me at Andy beno calm that’s one a easy way.

You can also find me on Twitter.

And then the the short link for the book is fitly slash bite Bike Share book.

Carlton Reid 54:57
Thanks to Andy Boenau — he

gave the links to his book and his social media, but also place them on the show notes at And on the next episode, I’ll be talking with academic John Stehlin. Meanwhile, get out there and ride

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.