PT: I joined Mobi as a founder member; it seemed the right thing to do – even though I was doubtful that I would use the system all that much. (I have a couple of bikes conveniently stored in the locker rooms of my building; I generally commute from the West End to downtown. What more do I need?)
And yet, to my surprise, I’ve been using Mobi more than I ever expected.
First of all (and critically), it is convenient. With a docking station across the street (one of three on the Chilco Bikeway), it’s just as fast to grab a Mobi as to go to the basement, open locked doors, and head out through the garage.
With the Transit App interface, I can check to see if docks are available at my destination station.
More often, though, I use bikeshare on my return home (it’s mostly downhill) if I took transit, taxi or had a lift into the city in the morning. Weather, clearly, plays a role, and I’m more willing to choose the best option available now that I have more choices.
But here’s what I didn’t really take into account: I now take a Mobi if I have to meet someone, typically in the West End, and know that I will be walking with them to another destination like a restaurant. I then don’t have to take my personal bike with me, awkwardly walking it on crowded sidewalks, nor do I have to think about getting back to wherever I might have first racked my bike. I just check the app for the closest Mobi docking station.
In a way, I’ve been liberated from my bike.
Another unexpected use: I came in by SkyTrain from Surrey last night, expecting to transfer to the local bus when I arrived downtown. But I found that it would take about ten minutes for the Robson 5 to arrive (thank you again, real-time Transit App) – and so it was a faster choice to use Mobi for the final leg.
Another surprise: I’m using the helmet – partly because I’m used to wearing helmets, partly because I have to pick one up when the bike and cord are released, partly because so far there’s always been one with every Mobi I’ve used. Looks like the system is working.
Final surprise: I’m amazed how much Mobi is being used generally, if my local docking station is an indication. Within a day of its launch, more than half the bikes were apparently in use.
21 bikes or one SUV
The feel of the central area is most definitely changing – much more like what I’ve experienced in Europe. As the car continues to drop out as a dominant mode, Vancouver becomes more like other world cities that have made the same commitments to walking and cycling. Sure, it’s summer; it’s only a small segment of the city; there’s much less car ownership and use. But still, it feels like we’ve now passed a point of no return, and that, as more infrastructure comes along, so will we.
And for those still begrudging the changes, including many in my own building – get over it. Or better yet, get on a Mobi.