And the Wright Brothers didn’t invent the airplane…

People are still pissed that NC claims “First in Flight” when everyone is supposed to know that the Wright Brothers invented flight and perfected it here in Dayton.

When it comes to bike share in Dayton- it most definitely wasn’t “Dayton leaders” who brought this idea to town as reported on the front page of the Dayton Daily news by Thomas Gnau (who also stole my Qbase story- a year and a half late).

Dayton leaders have long sought to make the city more bike-friendly. Three years ago, city leaders planned to spend $12.1 million in federal and state money through 2018 on street repair and repaving in a bid to give riders clear bicycle lanes. And runners, walkers and bikers have used trails by the Great Miami River for decades.

“The bike share program is one of the many ways we can connect destinations and points of interests and neighborhoods to each other,” (Downtown Dayton Partnership leader Sandy) Gudorf said. “That’s one of the key reasons we and our community partnership … push to get bike share done.”

via Daytonians could share bikes |

At the first Miami Valley Bike Summit- not very many people were interested in the funny looking white Bcycle that was there- along with Andrew Davison, who flew in from Boulder to introduce the prototype bike.

I had started this conversation when I read about Andrew’s bosses work to launch Bcycle in partnership with Humana Health Care and Trek Bicycles about 6 years ago. I reached out to Alex Bogusky- the aforementioned boss, and creative genius of the ad agency of the decade- Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Alex passed my name over to Andrew- and he shipped the bike here to K&G bike shop for assembly- the trade show booth to my office- and the swag… T-shirts and water bottles, to hand out at the event. Of course, I wrote about all this on, but, you know- nobody reads that….

My first post on the matter- Pave more roads or free bikes? Stimulus for the future The date? Mar. 31, 2009. I thought we could launch in 2010. I talked to university presidents about it, our shadow mayor, the people at Metroparks (I had either Marvin Olinsky or Charlie Shoemaker ride the Bcycle- and shot some video of them riding it outside the meeting at DECA).

But, in the end, even with photos and posts to prove who was the father of this idea in Dayton- it won’t go down in the history of Bike Share in Dayton as my idea… because, well….

have you ever heard of “stolen valor”- or let me introduce you to my good friend Brian Williams.

5 years later- Bike share to come to Dayton

March 31, 2009, I wrote a post “Pave more roads or free bikes? Stimulus for the future” talking about bringing bike share to Dayton:

The idea of the free bike isn’t new, and it’s not out of reach. It’s working in Paris, and it’s being rolled out in small communities across the country and a few big ones. To appease the old school thinkers in Dayton- remember, the Wright Brothers were bicycle builders first.

via Pave more roads or free bikes? Stimulus for the future.

Photo of poster announcing Bike Share coming to Dayton

5 years later- Bike share announced.

Up until then- talk of bicycling in Dayton was mostly revolving around our amazing bike path system and a mountain bike course as part of Five Rivers Metroparks. Andy Williamson was organizing the first bicycle summit- which was held in August ’09. I made arrangements for Bcycle to bring one of their prototype bikes and give a presentation. Most people looked at that 35-pound bike like an albatross. I saw beauty.

This isn’t a bike for sport riding- or for a daily commute- this is a “magic bike” that’s there anytime you need a bike. I started making the rounds explaining how the system works and what the advantage would be. I sat with Dr. Ervin and gave him a rundown. I made presentations at World Usability Day- and shared the idea with university presidents and anyone else who would listen.

I made a lot of posts too:

Today at 10 a.m., Mike Ervin, Sandy Gudorf, Andy Williamson and Scott Murphy as well as Mark Donaghy of RTA all stood up at the 2nd Street Market and announced that next year, 6 years after my first post- that we’d see 22 bike stations with approximately 200 bikes hit the streets downtown. No vendor has yet been selected. There is a million dollars available from the Federal Highway Administration- and the City of Dayton is kicking in $250K according to Mayor “I never miss a photo opp” Whaley. RTA will manage the maintenance, operation and distribution of the bikes. Details on pricing aren’t available yet.

No word on the name of the system or if any major backers are buying naming rights. To me, this is a no-brainer sponsorship for one of our two health-care duopolies- but, who am I to suggest where you waste your millions in marketing dollars?

I once built an interactive map on Google Maps- and using a multi-site system- where there are distributed nodes- not continuous coverage- for places like the Dayton Mall/Austin Landing area, WSU/WPAFB/Fairfield Commons mall etc- I came up with a need for at least 100 stations and 1,500 bikes. 22 stations and 200 bikes is a start.

It’s a very good day for Dayton, with this announcement and the Flyers advancing to the Elite 8 to face Florida tomorrow night.

Downtown centric bike share program with training wheels proposed

I may eventually get the credit for being the first voice for bike sharing, much like Tony Capizzi gets the credit for baseball downtown, but, it won’t be anytime soon.

The people at UpDayton and Metroparks with help from Dr. Ervin have released their plan for bike share lite.

Dayton Bike Share Feasibility Study Presentation 080613sm_Page_01

Click on image to download full PDF of feasibility study

 They propose a max of 30 bike share stations, with most locations in Downtown with a few across the river in Wright Dunbar and around the Art Institute, stretching down to UD, but not providing a station over at UD Arena to fully connect the campus.

No mentions of sponsorship plans, no integration with the bike paths (one of our true assets). But, most importantly, very little info on multi-modal or circulatory route benefits of bike share as a partner with local public transit. In short, a lightweight study by a team that believes in operating safely.

This plan seriously omits the opportunity to empower those who it could benefit most- our underclass living in poverty and needing affordable mobility. The plan as proposed is far from the empowering engine I first presented.

Call this- Bike Share for yuppies, DINCs and all those who can afford a bike, but don’t want the hassle of having to think about riding.

Please reconsider Scott Murphy, Aaron Buckley, Amy Forsthoefel, Matt Lindsay, Grant Neeley, Emily Wilk, Andy Williamson. I know many of you- and I know you are capable of thinking bigger than this.

Re-read what I’ve posted over the years:

The man behind the curtain is now backing bike share

Mike Ervin liked the idea when I first told him about bike share back in 2009. So did Andy Williamson- when I brought Bcycle from Boulder to the first Miami Valley Bicycle summit.

I took a slide deck out and presented it to, or talked with Dr. Hopkins at Wright State who loved it. Dr. Dan Curran at UD and I discussed over lunch in his private dining room where he seemed noncommittal, and people at Premier Health (who would be the ideal advertising sponsor) have had the proposal in their hands for years. Same goes for Sinclair, where Dr. Johnson has no interest in talking to me about it (he’s still mad that I’ve said Sinclair shouldn’t be in Warren County unless they pay a tax like we do to subsidize it- but, that’s another story).

RTA had a copy too- with Mark Donaghy liking it, but not sure about how it qualified for Federal transportation dollars (the Schuster Center got over $4 million from RTA and Federal dollars- more than enough to pay for an entire bike share system). It’s also been passed around Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission where it was filed in the good-idea-but-we-don’t-really-do-much bin.

It’s been on my campaign literature too- but, enough about what I’ve been doing for the last 4 years- now, it’s Andy and Scott making the rounds with the backing of Dr. Ervin, the man behind the curtain:

Andy Williamson, 32, and Scott Murphy, 34, share a love of recreation. Williamson is a regional director for the International Mountain Bicycling Association and Murphy is a recreational bicycle rider and mechanical engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

As representatives for Bike Miami Valley, an organization that advocates for bicycle-friendly public policy, the two are making the rounds of government officials, planning organizations and private business groups to discuss their research paper, “Miami Valley Bike Share Feasibility Study.”

It will be unveiled to the public Friday at the Miami Valley Cycling Summit in Springfield. The event is sponsored in part by Cox Media Group Ohio, owner of the Dayton Daily News. They provided an advance copy of the study to this newspaper.

Mike Ervin, co-chair of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, said pending new downtown housing units, including hundreds of student apartments planned for the old Dayton Daily News site at Fourth and Ludlow streets, as well as newly-created bike lanes on major arteries like Brown Street, would help make a bike share program a success.

via Public bike rental system proposed for Dayton area |

Bicycle sharing systems are a game changer for Downtown parking, where people would no longer be tethered to parking in the core to get to buildings with limited or more expensive parking. It also makes possible housing, where people could live without the need of a car- since bikes that can haul groceries are readily available. I’ve ridden bike share bikes in London and Paris and know how easily these systems can transform your mobility.

BCycle called it a “magic bike” because when a system is installed with critical mass and effective re-balancing of the system, there is always a bike at hand. Besides being great for the environment compared to cars, it also encourages healthy exercise. Maybe now that Dr. Downtown has blessed my idea, we will see it happen. You can read much more about bike share in Dayton here:

Kansas City tries a pilot bike share program

While Dayton waits for the $4 million paddle boat run, Kansas City is jumping ahead with a small Bike share program.

The pedaling population of Kansas City is expected to increase with the arrival of a bike-sharing program that has been a success in other cities.

Ninety sturdy bicycles will come rolling into downtown today to inaugurate B-cycle, a program intended to make it easier for people to get exercise while reducing automobile pollution.

The bikes will be parked at 12 docking stations sprinkled throughout downtown and will be available to anyone with a credit card.“It’s a self-service bicycle rental system,” said Eric Rogers, executive director of BikeWalkKC, an organization promoting B-cycle. “The idea is basically like Redbox, but for bikes.”

via Bike sharing rolls into Kansas City –

And of interest- one of the sponsors is a health care organization- Blue Cross, Blue Shield.

For a nice review, explanation and photos:

I’m not finding a price for the system, but when I was first investigating Bcycle for Dayton the cost was about $3,000 per seat. So KC probably came in around $300,000 for their small starter system.  In the post above- you’ll notice that the bikes are being sponsored by local business advertising as well.

Also- the Wikipedia entry for bike share has really improved:

Now that Premier is trying to cram 1,000 people into a building at 2nd and Main- maybe they might realize that adding a bike share system could save time, money and parking issues for employees shuttling between the office tower and MVH main campus.

How does downtown Dayton hope to compete?

On Friday I went to the annual meeting of the extra-tax to save downtown organization- I mean the Downtown Dayton Partnership presentation of the update on the “Downtown Dayton Plan.”

It seems the last year has been spent quietly raising $3.8 million for the paddle boat run- and not much else. Now, it’s up to the little people to kick in $200,000 to complete the fundraising to remove the low dams that were built to create the “waterfront” on a former save-downtown plan. Yep, paddling our way to a vibrant downtown with huge economic impact, yawn.

And btw, we’re happy to report that people from NYC keep buying our real estate for pennies on the dollar, despite the fact that employers are moving out faster than those investors can drop the prices to keep them.

The Soin international building on W. 1st Street sold for a whopping $122,000, including a parking garage (which was promptly sold off for $22K to Paul Hutchins of PMI). That’s real estate that was on the tax rolls for over a million dollars. The Kettering tower, once valued at $30 million or so, was bought for a third of that- cash. The DDP is talking kayaks and canoes.

What’s the problem with downtown? Well, besides the fact that people like Randy Gunlock with RG Properties and Bob Mills of Mills Development/Synergy Building Systems are throwing up office space with free parking in income-tax=free places like Beavercreek and Miami Township- right on highway exits- and the Greene is still sitting with plenty of office space available- complete with free parking and lots of restaurants and shopping opportunities- well- nothing.

Downtown buildings are great monuments to a city that has failed to recognize that we live in a free market society and you can only get away with charging a premium income tax for so long- if you don’t provide a premium experience to match. Now, I’m not one to say it’s all because of the income tax that we saw Mead build what would become LexisNexis in Miamisburg, or Reynolds and Reynolds bail out to Kettering, or Woolpert to Beavercreek, or the Greene be built in Beavercreek, or Teradata to Miami Township or NCR to Georgia etc… but, do you see a trend here?

And at Austin Landing- it’s still tax free to the rich people- but, the clerks at Kohl’s and the burger flippers at Five Guys- will be paying 2.25% due to the magic of Mr. Gunlock and his amazing mastery of local government officials to keep giving him tax breaks and deals.

It’s time Dayton learned to play dirty. If we want to see any of these new investors compete- we’re going to have to play the same kind of game- but, maybe we should do it smart. We need to realize that parking is a major problem for a 27 floor tower. Charging $90 a month to rent a parking space for each employee gets expensive. So, why don’t we get creative and try to incentivize people who can walk to work in their downtown office buildings? If you make less than $44,000 a year (what the Mayor makes for his part-time job) and live and work in the central business district you pay no income tax. Do the same and make between $44K and $100k pay 1.25% This way- we can start rewarding people who don’t waste our high dollar land using up parking spaces.

With Premier Health Partners about to bring another 1,000 people to the corner of 2nd and Main- getting people not to drive into downtown will make it easier for those who have to come down to visit.

We also need to help developers create more housing opportunities for these workers. Since we don’t seem to adjust property tax values based on purchase price- we need to find another way to incentivize transforming parts or all of downtown real estate over to residential. The simple way would be to value property at the purchase price and allow total tax abatement for a value equal to the investment made in switching the old buildings to have at least 20% residential in every building.

The last two critical pieces are we have to get some sort of downtown grocery- Trader Joe’s, Dorothy Lane Market, Whole Foods, Earth Fare or even Kroger’s or a food co-op is critical. The second is adding bike share to downtown so residents can easily move from Sinclair to the Oregon District to Riverscape and the Cannery – tie in UD too and we start having a powerful downtown pedestrian/bike friendly community where it is possible to live like a New Yorker without a real public transit system- and without the high rents.

Only when we can get people to think about living without a car- will downtown really start to thrive. Because after housing expenses, a car and medical are the second biggest expenses people have to deal with.

With our vibrant arts community, a beautiful waterfront (with or without paddle boats and giant fountains) and a compact core- we could easily start looking attractive to some NYC offices looking to move back office people into a lower overhead.

That’s when Downtown Dayton starts to be able to compete.

Bike share in Paris: Vélib’ the way to see Paris

David Esrati on Velib in Paris

David Esrati pedaling away from the Louvre on a Velib rental bike

About three years ago, I started championing a bike share system for Dayton. I talked to anyone and everyone who would listen. I had the people from B-cycle ship a prototype bike to Dayton for the bike summit. I even started mapping our where we should locate the bike stations on Google Maps.

Three years ago, we could have been in the news, launching a system at the same time as Denver. We would have been on the cutting edge in North America. Total cost, between $1.5 and $3 million- to create a green technology alternative transportation system that encourages a healthy lifestyle- and solves much of our “parking problem” in downtown.

As usual, the people who think they run this city- chuckled. A few gave the idea lip service. UD launched a bike rental- which isn’t the same thing- and instead of pushing for this liberating system- the Downtown Dayton Plan pushed for kayaking on the river for a cost of at least a million more. We also had the “Steal this yellow bike” program launched downtown- which had zero economic impact.

No one needs to kayak- but, bicycling is a whole other thing- it’s transportation that works.

I know, because I pedaled all over Paris today for 1.70 euros- about $3. Pick up a bike here- drop it there. Unlimited rides for 24 hours- as long as they are under 30 minutes. I could have bought an annual pass for 29 euros- but that didn’t quite make sense with 2 days to go.

How’s it work- easy:

Take a bike, return it where you like, Vélib’ is a self-service bike system available 24 hours a day, all year round. To access the service, buy a 1-day or a 7-day ticket online or at any Vélib’ station or sign-up for a long-term subscription!

via How it works / Paris – Vélib’ – vélos en libre-service à Paris- Site Officiel.

Velib Station in Paris

Velib Station in Paris near the Pompidou center

Compared to the Tube- it’s a much faster way to get around town. Many streets have dedicated bus/bike lanes- or even bike paths marked along narrow streets that have you riding against traffic. The bike has an adjustable height seat, lights, bell, fenders, enclosed chain and a good sized basket up front. And although you’d probably not want to lock it anywhere, choosing instead to return it to a rack- it has a lock that you can use to lock the bike anywhere.

Pull up to a station that is full- you can check in and be granted an additional 15 minutes to ride to another nearby station that has open spaces (the digital map tells you how many bikes are at each station and how many slots are open). If you have a problem with a bike- just check it back in and inform the system- the bike won’t be available until it’s been checked on).

Near popular sites, like the Louvre, there were three stations within a few blocks. The biggest problem at 10:45 was finding a place to check them in after riding from the Pompidou center. When we rode home at 4 p.m.- the station in front of our apartment building was mostly empty. The system doesn’t balance itself- and I didn’t see people moving bikes from station to station- but we did see the bikes being used all over Paris by tourists and locals alike.

Dayton Ohio could be transformed with a true bike share system. Imagine the economic impact once the 20,000 Sinclair students would have an easy way to leave campus to go to the Oregon District or Brown Street for lunch, or to visit Riverscape. What about the employees at Premier Health Partners, who often have to travel from one part of their distributed office spaces to another? Parking problems are much easier on bikes than in cars.

In London, there is a similar system- however all the bikes are advertising billboard for Barclay’s bank. I didn’t have an opportunity to try them out, as I was always with my family- and none of them are fans. The other slight problem for Yanks in London is that you really have to pay attention since you are riding on the wrong side of the street.

If RTA were really interested in providing affordable public transit, they could have implemented this system for a lot less than the money they put into both the Schuster Center (about $4 million- for bus stop improvements- because everyone going to the DPO rides the bus) and the several million they contributed to the Dragons stadium and operating the trolley system that used to provide before and after games (the stretched out golf cart trains like at King’s Island in the parking lots).

It’s time to do something significant of impact in Dayton. Bike share would fit that bill. If you don’t believe me- take a trip- you don’t have to go to Paris or London, Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis etc. all have already taken the leap. Maybe now we can too.


New housing options for a new Dayton?

I’ve talked on this site.about SRO housing before, as well as co-housing.  SRO stands for “Single Room Occupancy” and it’s illegal in Dayton- despite there being a few “grandfathered” examples- and some operated by social service agencies (the DePaul Center on St. Clair being an example). Of course, the other name for SRO and co-housing is the “negative one” – of which I’ve also written about: “Rooming houses.”

However we’ve seen little change in housing code to encourage it. The solution to saving some of the grand homes in Dayton View isn’t to tear them down- but, find ways to allow SRO- as opposed to the previous solution of chopping them up into small apartments and trying to adapt the architecture into something it wasn’t meant to be.

In NYC a new solution for the formerly homeless is SRO housing- which makes more sense than trying to move someone from sleeping in a car into a full blown home rental situation.  SRO also makes more sense to many young urban professionals who barely cook at home- why be saddled with the overhead of a kitchen when all you need is a mini-fridge, microwave, toaster oven and a hotplate along with a sink?

The root problem here is the same as in NYC- as defined in the New York Times:

The problem? Partly, a collection of sometimes conflicting city and state laws that do things like dictate minimum room sizes, prohibit the construction of apartments without kitchens or bathrooms, and outlaw more than three or four unrelated people sharing an apartment. Other rules compel developers in many parts of town to construct a parking space for each new unit they build, a disincentive for designing many smaller, inexpensive apartments as opposed to just a few big ones, never mind what the rules imply for the environment.

via Jonathan Kirschenfeld and Others Reimagine New York Housing –

And since I’m writing this from Paris- after being in London, I can also tell you that the idea of mandatory car ownership with its costs (purchase, maintenance, insurance and parking costs- there are always parking costs) is an idea we as Americans need to forget about. Bike-share systems in both cities are heavily used (more so in Paris where people drive on the right side of the streets :-) and bike lanes, parking, etc. are built in). The system in London is an advertising vehicle for Barclay’s bank, in Paris- no ads.

The other European observation that we should consider in making a conversion to SRO-friendly communities- is that we need to think in terms of smaller neighborhood grocery options. Instead of lusting for “supermarkets” we need to look to much smaller neighborhood grocery stores- with more frequent stocking. Fresher fruits, vegetables, meat, bread- is the norm in Europe, because of many factors- smaller refrigerators, smaller stores within walking distances and fresher foods required by consumers. If we started looking to build a network of small co-op groceries in densely packed neighborhoods, with membership fees- we might be able to speed the transformation. Imagine if the Wayne Avenue Kroger didn’t require 6 acres of parking spaces?

Rolser buggy as seen all over Paris

The 2 wheeled shopping machine that transforms communities

Let me introduce you to the 2 wheel machine, available in Paris for about 30 euros ($50) that changes everything: the “Rolser” shopping cart- pictured at right- available from Amazon for $125 (way too much).

Another interesting development in Co-Housing is that of Grandparent housing, for grandparents raising their children’s children- from a Marketplace story on a development in Kansas City:

It was an entire apartment complex designed exclusively for grandparents raising grandchildren… It has a central room with living and dining spaces that open into a kitchen with a big island in it…

Like senior housing, they’re handicap accessible — with wide doorways, rails in the bathrooms and low cabinets. Outside there’s a playground with a ramp for wheelchairs. And activity rooms and a computer lab, which 13-year-old Shawn Gassway appreciates. He’s making friends and he admits, it’s hard to get out of line here.

SEAN GASSWAY: It’s a lot, a lot of grandmas in these apartments….

a similar project in the Bronx — the nation’s first grandfamily apartments, which opened six years ago. He found out there are some 15,000 households in the Kansas City area headed by grandparents, and many are below poverty level. He held focus groups with grandparents to find out what their needs were.

COLLINS: Those households needed support with the children, especially after school, helping with their homework. Grandparents needed a place to get away from the kids.

Cougar Capital partnered with the city to receive tax credits from the state and federal government. The Kansas City project is one of a half-dozen around the country, which are all public housing of some sort. But with 2.7 million grandparents raising grandchildren around the country, other developers are paying attention.

Donna Butts heads the group Generations United, and has tracked the growth of grandfamily housing.

DONNA BUTTS: We’ve been approached in the last several years from for-profit developers who are realizing that communities of the future are not what the communities of the past look like. I think there’s a growing need for housing for multi-generational households.

via New housing developments geared toward grandparent-led families | Marketplace from American Public Media.

Dayton already has some of the lowest housing and costs of living in the nation for a city of comparable size. We have incredible amenities and arts and culture but could use some help with community self-esteem and job creation. By moving forward with even more affordable housing options for all and working to create higher density communities in our urban core we could become a potential population growth magnet.

The key to transformation in Dayton isn’t doing what every other community has tried to do- with tax abatement “luring jobs.”

It’s creating reasons people want to live here- and helping them create their own jobs via more competitive cost of living. By changing the cost structures and increasing residential density, cutting the need for cars (zip cars are another option to add to the mix) via SRO/Bike Share/Small grocery solutions- we can have a combination only offered in places like NYC and Chicago at a much more competitive price.