The Washington, D.C. area’s bike share program – Capital Bikeshare – is frequently cited as one of the best in the country. This is a minor claim to fame, considering that programs in Canada and Europe are far more developed than ones in the United States. However, it’s refreshing for the nation’s capital to be cited as a leader in urban planning, since it’s frequently in the news for less desirable reasons.
Since Washington is actually a small city, the Bikeshare program has grown through partnerships with neighboring municipalities. With a population of about 600,000 within the city limits, Capital Bikeshare would struggle without the participation of three neighboring jurisdictions: the city of Alexandria, Virginia’s Arlington County, and Montgomery County in Maryland. Capital Bikeshare continues to work to enlarge the service area and broaden its appeal, which helps secure its position in D.C.’s transportation network – unlike SmartBike, a similar service in the District that finally failed in 2011.
Capital Bikeshare doesn’t specify what type of battery is used in its stations, just that the stations need at least 4 hours of sunlight to charge each station’s “solar battery.” These batteries, together with the solar PV at each station, are used to power the locking and release mechanisms that secure the bikes, as well as the computerized system that allows users to rent bikes. In all likelihood, the battery in each station is something like the “solar” series of lead-acid batteries from East Penn.
Capital Bikeshare has over 175 stations in the D.C. metro area. Bixi, the company that manufactures the bikes and the stations, also operates in Montreal (the original pilot project launched in 2008), Toronto, Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York. All told, Bixi likely has between 1,100 and 1,400 stations in operation. If all these follow the same formula as the stations in D.C., that’s up to 1,400 battery storage installations in urban centers across North America.
Other cities with successful bikesharing programs include Barcelona (420 stations), London (570+ stations), and Paris (estimates range between 1,200 and 1,450 stations). Of the non-Bixi programs, it isn’t clear which use solar (and consequently batteries) to power stations.
This isn’t to say that integrating small solar PV for bikesharing stations will be the next big market for energy storage. However, anything that helps consumers to understand what storage can do for solar PV (and vice versa) – even at bikesharing stations – will eventually help those same consumers understand the benefits of storage in their homes, businesses, and transportation networks.
Tags: Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Clean Transportation, Energy Storage, Smart Transportation Practice
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