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Is Park City’s E-Bike system successful? The numbers don’t indicate that… but we hope it eventually will be.

We received a tip from a reader pointing us to a Park Record article about both the success and troubles with the Park City/Summit County E-Bike program (Thanks to the person who sent it in).

We’re honestly conflicted about the E-Bike program. We want to see it succeed because we ultimately believe e-bikes blend transportation with the best parts of Park City. Yet, we can’t let go of the issues they have had. Every week we hear from someone who have had serious problems with the program. Yet, the company that is managing the program uses veterans of foreign wars to help support it. How can you be too critical of people who have served our country and likely saw things that you or I would never want to experience?

It’s complicated.

So we come back to numbers. The Summit County Officials said that there have been 7,000 rentals of bikes and that success “shocked” them (in a good way). The Park Record article stated there were 80 bikes being rented. We know that the program has been operating for 49 days (since the end of July). That means that each bike was used 1.77 times per day.

So, it’s likely that each bike used for about a hour or two a day. That’s great! Or is it?

Wikipedia tells us that a well functioning bike share is used 10-15 times per day per bike. However, our system is new and just getting started — so perhaps we should expect less (for now)? Other sources, seem to state that between 6-10 uses per bike per day is normal. The question becomes how much traffic is taken off the road. If each bike is used 1.8 times per day, and 75% of that usage takes a car off the road. That means 108 cars are taken off the road each day (at least during summer). Is that worth the money? It may or may not be depending on when the usage happens.

We’ve also heard that people are driving up from the valley to try it out. We’re not sure if that is actually taking cars off the road, which was the reason we spent a million dollars (including grants) on the project. We’ve also been to many concerts where people are just “trying it out” as they ride around New Park.

That gets us back to the meat of the argument. The E-Bike share was designed to get cars off the road. It is a traffic mitigation concept. The Park Record article did not address that at all. If the city and county are providing an electric cruiser bike “for fun” at $2 an hour… that’s sounds like entertainment. So, how many cars have been taken off the road? Are visitors not renting a car? Are people from SLC parking at the library in KJ and taking a bike? Are residents using a bike and forgoing a car to do their daily tasks (or recreation)? Ultimately, that is the test of success.

So, it sounds like we need about 3-5 times more riders to meet the average “biker-ship” seen with a bike share. Stated positively… We have goals that we can aspire to.

We’re nearing the end of the summer. According to initial estimates the E-bike share will run into November. We’ll believe that when we see it (you won’t see me on my Pedego in November very often). How is that battery going to last when the snow falls and temperature drops? How will those thin tires tackle snow?

We see the future in the quote from the Park Record article…County Manager Tom Fischer said, “Our biggest thing is before we get into buying more bikes, which the early days shows the demand is there, we want to make sure we evaluate the whole thing. And we may have to look for a different provider. But, it’s clear from the early experience that people want it and they can use a system like this in our community.”

What we hope to see is that people adopt E-Bikes as an alternative form of transit. We hope that cars are taken off the road. We hope that it is seen as more than a novelty.

The numbers tell us that the city and county need to increase the usage by about five fold and then also show that those users are forgoing car tips… in order to show that the program is truly meeting the goal of reducing traffic.

We look forward to seeing what happens in Spring 2018.









1 Comment

Steve Joyce

I have talked to a number of people riding the e-bikes and seen a lot more. I believe it is mostly being used for recreational purposes, versus as an alternative for car travel. Perhaps at some point, a survey would help really nail down the uses. My hope for the real impact on miles driven comes from the fact that some locals have ridden the e-bikes and then want to go out a buy a nicer one, like a Pedego. Now you have one sitting in your garage and it is a lot better fit for going to the store, running an errand, …


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