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Transportation

Social Bicycles: more flexible bike sharing program gets UN shoutout

Williamsburg designers helped prototype a shareable bike that helped Hoboken residents get back to work while most of their town was still under Sandy's waters.

Mayor Zimmer at far right, on the panel with the UN Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon and President, H.E. John Ashe. Photo by Brady Dale, 10/4/2013
10/8/2013 8:25 pm - a previous version of this story said that the Social Bicycles pilot had already launched before Superstorm Sandy.

Most of Hoboken was flooded by Superstorm Sandy, including its main rail tunnel into Manhattan, but most of its residents were able to start getting back to work in New York quickly because of redundancies in the city and the state’s transportation system. That’s according to Hoboken’s Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who spoke at a high level meeting at the United Nations Friday for World Habitat Day.

One asset she realized would have been useful for her constituents during the storm: Social Bicycles. Since the storm, Hoboken has entered into a pilot program with the bike share company, believing that pod-less sharing systems are more flexible in a disaster situation. 

According to the Lower East Side company’s Justin Wiley, its bikes were prototyped in Williamsburg by RUSHDesign, plus its Product Design, Business Development and Project Management staffers all live in Brooklyn.

Social Bicycles work much like other bike share systems, such as NYC’s Citibike, except they don’t use pods. So, users don’t have have to return the bike to a specific location to check it back in with the system. With technology to wirelessly track the bikes on board, users can simply park bikes wherever they finish their trips and other users can find them and reserve them using an app or the website.

Pods, the mayor pointed out, are not flexible enough during a disaster situation. If the flood waters cover them, users can’t use the bikes to get around. By loading the technology directly onto the bikes, Social Bicycles are flexible enough to help get residents out of the way of the flood waters and back to work.

 

Companies: Citi Bike / United Nations / Citi
Series: Brooklyn

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