Two Wheels

Bike life: the present and near future of cycling in the news

A new approach to bikesharing, bike safety research, best practices for bike lanes and a building made for bikes.

A startup based in Copenhagen, Denmark is taking on the traditional bikesharing model with a new app. Donkey Republic is looking to address common problems with bikesharing. First is the time allotment. Sometimes there's no empty space at a station to park your bike and finish your session as your time runs out. Also, it's hard to estimate how much time you'll need, especially if you're biking in a city unfamiliar to you. The other big problem is the availability of bikesharing, as city governments can be slow in their rollout.

Donkey Republic is an app-based platform, where rental shops and private bike owners rent out their bikes, regardless of where they are. Riders use the app to reserve a bike in a certain area, and to unlock the Bluetooth-connected bike lock. Users can rent the bikes for days or weeks, and return the bike to the same spot they picked it up to end the session. Curious? You can read more about Donkey Republic at CityLab.

Bikeshare riders have a better safety record than people who ride their own personal bikes.

Speaking of bikesharing, new research shows that it's pretty safe. In fact, bikeshare riders have a better safety record than people who ride their own personal bikes. Researchers at the Mineta Transportation Institute looked at three major bikesharing systems in Washington, DC, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Minneapolis, and found that they represent 65 percent fewer accidents with vehicles than the national average. One explanation is that safety might be a "side effect" of the bikes being built for durability. They're big, they're heavy and thus they are relatively slow. They're also usually brightly colored and easy for drivers to see.

A second possible explanation is that bikeshare riders aren't quite the seasoned cyclists as bike owners. While this seems like a danger, these riders tend to be extra cautious. Thirdly, bikesharing usually takes place in urban centers, where infrastructure for cyclists is better and more protected from fast-moving traffic. Head to CityLab for a deeper read into this phenomenon.

Sticking with bike safety, Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) is developing a set of best practices for creating protected bike lane intersections. Doing so not only gives cities a guideline of the safest way to build such infrastructure, streamlining the design helps eliminate the confusion cyclists and motorists encounter when different cities have different systems. TREC is gathering data to create standardized templates for various types of intersections. Read more about it at Next City.

A new high-rise office building in Oslo, Norway will provide parking for hundreds of bikes. In an effort to encourage people to arrive on two wheels, the lobby will have spots to park 500 bikes, bike repair, and washing stations, plus showers and changing rooms for riders. There will only be 10 parking spaces reserved for electric vehicles, and absolutely no parking available for conventionally powered cars. Norway is serious about encouraging cycling, as it plans to build $1 billion worth of bicycle highways.

"The political leadership in Oslo is crystal clear on [its] large ambitions for increased use of bicycles," says Anders Solaas, the executive VP at Entra, the developer of the new building. "Employees are making commuting their daily workout through cycling." In addition to encouraging greener travel, the building will have 8,300 square meters of solar panels on its slanted roof, a collection system for rain and snow, integrated habitat for birds and bats and recycled construction materials. Read more about it at FastCoexist.

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