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Razors Edge

Bike Sharing - How Do They Stack Up?

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So, the Washington Post got it in their head to "race" the various bike share bikes across town. Pretty humorous but also informational:

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You may have noticed brightly colored bicycles all over D.C. lately. These cruisers are part of a dockless bike-share pilot program that began Sept. 20 and will continue through April. The District Department of Transportation is trying to determine if, and how, dockless bike-share companies should operate in the city. Meanwhile, the five participating companies — Jump, LimeBike, Mobike, Ofo and Spin — are vying for a share of the potentially lucrative D.C. market while working the kinks out of their systems, which require people to locate and unlock bikes using mobile apps.

The results of that experiment won’t be known for quite some time, so we decided to stage another sort of trial: a crosstown bike-share race. To avoid giving any of the companies an unfair advantage, we recruited six triathletes with comparable race times and randomly assigned them to the five bike-share systems plus the long-running (and docked) Capital Bikeshare program.

Our Great Bike-Share Race turned out to be much more dramatic than expected. Blood was lost, tears were shed. Then, there was an eleventh-hour upset that no one could have predicted. Let’s just say we’re glad we had everyone sign liability waivers.

And they’re off:
Our triathletes met on the southeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW in Georgetown and drew slips of paper to determine their bike-share assignments. All of the triathletes wanted to draw Ofo, because one of the bikes from China’s largest bike-share company just happened to be a few feet from our starting line. Heather Prochnow, 33, ended up with that lucky assignment. The bike no one wanted? Jump’s. Even though its bright red cruisers have a 250-watt electric motor to assist pedalers, only four were available in the entire city at race time, and the nearest one was a mile away. Jolene Milot, 37, pulled the short straw.

We set a few ground rules: Bikers could take any route they wanted to get to the finish line at SunTrust Plaza in Adams Morgan, but they had to obey all traffic laws. The athletes downloaded their respective apps and entered their credit card information. Then, on the count of three, they were off, sprinting in every direction with their bike helmets on — a sight that surprised and confused a few Georgetown pedestrians.

Prochnow unlocked the conveniently located Ofo bike and quickly took the lead, passing fellow racers Ellen Wexler, 33, and Rebecca Auyer, 34, as the two women ran three blocks to their respective Spin and Capital Bikeshare bikes. Trevor Albert, 32, was the second to pick up his steed, a Mobike. He dropped onto Rock Creek Park’s paved, multiuse trail at 28th and Pennsylvania Avenue just two minutes behind Prochnow.

...more at WashPo!

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Tom

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