Biking

Biking is easy on Hayden Island. The island is less than a mile wide and only a few miles long. From the Expo Center Max train you enter and leave the Island on the right (east) side of the I-5 pedestrian/bike path.

Lotus Isle Park, a half-mile east of Safeway, has a south-facing beach, playground equipment and picnic tables. West Hayden Island, west of the railroad bridge, has a pristine and largely undiscovered public beach.

Portland Bike Maps and Vancouver Bike Maps (pdf) are available at Vancouver City Hall.

Vancouver Parks and Recreation Trail Maps, as well as information on regional parks are also available.


Too bad Hayden Island doesn’t have a bike shop. And what if you don’t have a bike?

Here’s a concept: Bike Sharing.

“BikePetal” is a bike rental concept that combines the best elements of city-run bike sharing programs and owner-driven bike sharing apps like Spinlister.com. Anyone could securely place their own bike in this bike rental rack. Entrepreneurs would supply and maintain their own bikes.

Each person can set their own rates.

This bike sharing rack concept could be introduced in two phases:


  • Phase I ($5000) would not use any fancy electronics. Bikes are locked to a simple bike rack using a combination lock ($35). The combination could be changed by the owner every few days. That combination is sent to the renter’s cell phone via text message or voice.

  • Phase II ($10,000) adds security and convenience with a live camera, free community WiFi, cell phone charging and solar panels on a larger, more aesthetic bike rack. GPS bike trackers can provide live tracking of each rental bike for an additional $100 and $10/month.

The phase I system might cost $5,000 using a simple rack. Donations or grants are expected to cover expenses.

Phase II is expected to cost approximately $10,000, with $3,000 – 5,000 in additional development expenses to provide the basis for a possible larger scale rollout. The phase II bike rack provides a 24/7 live camera, a cloud-controlled hub & hotspot, solar panels and cellular backhaul. The live camera lets you see and talk to people. Free WiFi, USB charging, and voice activated searches benefit everyone.

Google’s $199 WiFi OnHub (right), supports 802.11ac, Bluetooth Smart Ready devices, and 802.15.4. Samsung’s SmartThings home automation hub will integrate Amazon’s Echo for voice activated search.

Integrated cloud-control is the game changer. It reduces development costs.

The concept is based on Portland’s Open Bike Initiative, with a goal of designing, developing, and disseminating a model for bike sharing based on open hardware and open source software. OBI was conceived to develop a low-cost device that incorporates a GPS/cellular module and locking mechanism that attaches on to standard, off-the-shelf bicycles. Social Bikes uses a SoBi lockbox with an electronically controlled U-Lock with real time GPS and 3G GSM connectivity.

This proposal is similar in concept, but utilizes off-the-shelf Bluetooth and Internet of Things devices now becoming available through Amazon and other vendors.

This concept of a bike sharing hub is an improvement over Spinlister.com (which lists owner rental bikes thru an app) and City-run bike sharing programs, such as Portland’s bike share initiative planned for 2016.

Unlike Spinlister, bikes can be located near high-traffic transit locations, rather than the owner’s residence. Unlike bike sharing programs like the one planned for Portland, it eliminates the high overhead, $100/yr membership fee and higher rental rates, typically $50-$75/day.

Bikes could rent for 50% to 75% less than city-run bike sharing and available near transit.

In high traffic areas, renters might earn $100-$400 per month. Bike Petal itself might generate $300-$500/month per hub (at $50/mo per bike), covering basic operational expenses. An 8-bike rack might be installed across the street from the Safeway store on Hayden Island or across the street from the Amtrak Station in downtown Portland.

Locations could expand upon proof of concept.

Bike Petal would utilize an open source WiFi/Internet of Things wireless router. An unlimited Sprint backhaul provides cellular backhaul for the camera and hotspot. Solar panels charge the 200 a/h battery.

Low power Bluetooth U-bolt bike locks ($150) or Bluetooth-based “Tile” RFID trackers ($25) may also be helpful. While not fool-proof, the live camera archive and low-power Bluetooth trackers can create a geo-fence without a monthly fee. A Bluetooth-powered, $25 “Tile”, glued to the bike, could also monitor when the bike leaves and returns to the rack as well as location on the island (via other Tile app users). Renters must return bikes to the same rack when finished.

The risk with these measures seem manageable, but the outcome is uncertain, which is why this concept is being proposed as a test.

Project Overview:

1. Bike rack. The “Bike Petal” bike rack would hold 8 bikes in a 10′ x 10′ space. Built like a mushroom or a large umbrella, the top shields the bikes from inclement weather.

2. Solar power. The “leaves” on the Bike Petal are solar panels. They charge a 200 a/h battery and run a free hotspot with a live camera (3 amps at 12 volts total). A 260 watt panel produces an average of about 15 amps per peak sun hour, or about 90 amp-hours per day. With a 24 hr day cycle (3 amps x 24 hrs = 72amp/hrs day). Power may have to be constrained or more batteries/solar added for winter operation (WiFi power draw), or simply plugged in. It’s similar in operation to the solar trees at the Yellow Max stop by the Coliseum. A 12 foot umbrella may accommodate a total of 260 watts with Portland’s SoloPower offering flexible panels and SolarWorld providing more efficient rigid panels.

3. WiFi Hotspot with Zigbee controller. The Almond + 802.11ac hotspot is also Zigbee compatible. It links to sensors such as LED lights, motion detector, dead lock bolts and even an alarm. The Hub provides free public WiFi (with a Bike Petal/splash page) and the wireless backhaul.

4. The 24/7 security camera. A $70 Foscam C1 camera can provide continuous day/night surveillance on Sensr.net, and available to anyone. Sensr.net costs just $10/month for live streaming and 24/7 archiving for 30 days.

5. GPS Tracker. Bikes can be provided with GPS trackers that cost under $100 and fit inside a tailight. A monthly service fee around $10/month enables real-time tracking.

6. Mobile lock. Locks could be Bluetooth powered and enabled by a smartphone, but a simple combination lock where the combination could be changed every few days could also be utilized. The current combination for the mobile bike lock would be sent via text message to the user.

SmartThings & Amazon Echo

Signage explains operation. The splash page walks you though registration. No membership fees. The space rental fee might be budgeted for $200/month. Ideally it would be provided at no cost by local businesses, the city’s DOT or Parks department.

Oregon State Parks wants to create a network of covered bike facilities they call “bike pods” and “bike hubs”, with 19 of them throughout the state. It address the growth in State Parks visitors arriving by bike.

Bike hubs in state parks might be supplemented by these bike rental stations, located in Vancouver, Hayden Island, Portland and elsewhere, for added synergy.


Economic Sustainability

Amortization of a $10K bike rack over 3 years (36 months) might be about $300/month. The cellular backhaul might add another $100/month. With an estimated $300-$500/month income from bike storage (and sponsorship), the non-profit organization is expected to break even and be sustainable after 3 years with a flat $50/month storage fee.

Condominiums, local businesses and grants could provide initial financing for a one year test. Memberships or a percentage of hourly rental fees to management may also generate revenue.

Summary

This concept is certainly not fool-proof. Software development is a big unknown. Bikes WILL get stolen and vandalized. But the live 2-way cameras, GPS tracking, and electronic locks appear to make the concept of user-supplied bike rentals feasible while commodity Internet of Things devices may lower development costs.

Community benefits include free public WiFi, cell phone charging, benches, voice search, entrepreneurial opportunities and cost/effective bike rentals.

More info on bike sharing is available at BikePortland.org, BikeShare.com, Blogspot, and BetterBikeShare.org.

– Sam

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