“That a solar panel…on a bike?”
“Is that a lock?…it looks just like my regular bike lock!”
“Electric? Cool!” [the bikes aren’t electric]
“What are all those numbers for on the back of the bike?”
These are just some of the questions and reactions we get on daily basis from people who are seeing the Coast bikes for the first time. We’ll admit, it is a bit odd to see a solar panel on a bike. But alas, this is fourth generation bike share, the next evolution in the history of bike share.
So, you’re likely asking at this point, “What on earth is a fourth generation bike share system? I’m still figuring out what bike share is [link]!”
The short answer is, a group of bikes placed densely in a small area in and around the city center used to more easily navigate urban areas with the entire system integrated into each bike. That last part, having the entire system integrated into each bike, is what makes fourth generation bike share special.
In keeping with our coffee scenario, [link: what is bike share] we know your time is limited, especially if you’re sneaking out to get that delicious cup of coffee. So how do we expedite that trip? The first step is knowing you have a bike waiting for you, and more importantly where that bike is. In previous bike share generations, you only knew where hubs were, but you didn’t necessarily know if there were even bikes available there, or if bikes would be there by the time you actually got there. Coast Bike Share solves this by letting you reserve a bike for up to ten minutes via an app, Social Bicycles, or right on our website CoastBikeShare.com. Not only do you know there’s a bike waiting for you when you burst through the elevator doors yearning for that cup of joe, but you know exactly where that bike is. That results in precious minutes saved!
With this reservation method, you also have the ability to earn points on your account to be redeemed for discounts within the Coast system or at local retailers. Let’s say there is a bike that is locked up somewhere besides one of the Official Coast Hubs, the bike will show up with a with a green icon within the system , as opposed to a black one, indicating that if you lock it back to a hub we’ll reward you. An added perk to that morning trip!
The second innovation in fourth generation bike sharing, that we just alluded to, is having the locking mechanism built right into the bike. Typically, every ride on former systems had to start at an official bike share station, a problem if that station is full or if you are just running in, in this case for a cup of coffee. Coast bikes can be put on hold, securely locking up right outside of the cafe, allowing you to quickly run in and out. This flexibility once again saves a massive amount of time!
Taking this feature a little farther, suppose you’re staying at the cafe to work for a bit and there’s no hub nearby to lock to, ending your ride. For a small convenience fee, you can lock up to any public bike rack right at your destination. We do caution you in doing this however, as the bike may not be there when you go to leave. If you’re running late to a meeting, or don’t mind a short walk back to the nearest hub, the ability to lock up anywhere is a perfect solution!
The third, hugely beneficial improvement in fourth generation bike share is that Coast bikes can actually record a number of data points for you. Similar to your favorite running app or bike gps, Social Bicycles tracks your route, the number of miles you’ve traveled, the average speed you traveled and more. With this data we can tell you how many calories you’ve burned, how much money you’ve saved in gas by not driving, and if you’re into the sustainable side of transit, how much carbon you’ve offset!
If you haven’t caught on to the way our system operates we took this a bit further as well. You as the rider have access to all of your personal data, but we here at Coast can see everyone’s data aggregated anonymously. This allows us to better plan our system, ensuring we have bikes available for you at all times. Perhaps the biggest advantage of this aggregated data is being able to see the routes that are most frequently traveled. By turning this information over to the city, we will be able to more accurately, and hopefully more quickly, expand valuable biking infrastructure in and around the city!
Coast Bike Share is excited to be the first large scale implementation of its type here in the city of Tampa, greatly increasing the flexibility of getting in and around town!