Bay Area Bike Share: a new regional transit system

Bay Area Bike Share bike sharing system has arrived in San Francisco and the South Bay Area and I’m loving it! Ready to ride?

bay_area_bike_share_sf

Bike Area Bike Share is in the business of sharing economy. Centered around a human-powered transport we all take for granted, your average pedal bike (bicycle). Bikes are not new but the execution here of Bay Area Bike Share program is. It can potentially disrupt (and with time eliminate) polluting transport machines like Muni, Taxi and Bart.

Let’s face it, human-powered bikes are a great innovation and will never be replaced. In almost every European country, bikes are outselling new cars. That tells you something about the change occurring around us. Ride a bike!

How Bay Area Bike Share works

You pay $88 for an annual membership and get a digital key to unlock any Bay Area Bike Share bike. When one is available. I will get to that later too. The catch is you have to return the bike into any Bike Area Bike Share dock within 30 minutes or end up paying overtime fees ($4 at the time of writing this). Beware, This is advertised as “30 minute free” or as I like to call it, exercise motivator.

So your annual membership is the right to access to the bike network. As soon as you undock a bike you have 30 mins to get your ass from A to B fast so you don’t pay the overtime fee. This doesn’t stop you from dropping your bike off at another docking station and re-docking it again. I am sure this 30 mins time limit also keeps the bikes circulating, which helps with availability.

The Bay Area Bike Share stations are situated in SF’s Soho & Financial district and also at popular suburbs in the South Bay Area like Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Jose etc.. and growing. So your transport needs are sorted.

I highly encourage you to download the Bike Area Bike app to see where the docking stations are in relation to you, bike availability and free docks to return your bike into. I recently switched to using the Bay Area Bike app after the Cycle Finder app proved to be too unreliable. There is also an API you can tap into if you want to build your own app.

Saving of 50% from my foot commute

For me this bike system has shed my foot commute by 50%. Nearly 40 mins on a typical day. Yes I used to walk on average 15K steps a day. But replacing my walks with foot & pedal power I still get a lot of exercise in half the time. In fact I feel like I have a better work out on a bike.

I really believe that every employer whose staff travel on foot or public transport to and from work should offer this benefit. It’s a no brainer. It is a small price to pay for employee’s happiness. Yes riding a bike will make your employee happy – from the exercise which releases endorphins to less stress getting to work on time / making that Bullet Caltrain so they can be home with their family sooner. It’s an all round win. A happy employee is a productive employee.

Pros of Bay Area Bike Share program

  • Go green! “In the Bay Area, the transportation sector accounts for more than 50 percent of air pollution overall.”*
  • No need to worry about locking up your bike at a station or on the streets.
  • No need to maintain a bike. Sharing economy baby! And if your bike has problems, there is a button on the docking station you can press to notify Bay Area Bike Share maintenance people.
  • Have you seen all those bike owners on Caltrain with their bikes stacked according to town they are getting out? And then watching nervously that no one nicks their bike. Yes it is a pain and going on Caltrain with your bike is painful.
  • Exercise! Riding a bike spikes your heart rate which is great for burning fat and cardio workout. Unlike walking, jumping on a bike and paddling hard through the city is a great heart accelerator.
  • Get to places faster. Faster than Muni in San Francisco. Bikes are a great way to accelerate foot transport without the traffic component.
  • It’s dirt cheap. $88 for an annual membership is cheaper than catching public transport.

Improvement / Ideas

  • Availability. Demand vs supply. I’m starting to see the 2 x docking stations in SF Caltrain empty more frequently when I exit the train during morning peak hour. A better system for managing inventory might help here. Maybe some data scientist from Uber can help.
  • Better cycle apps. Cycle Finder app is unreliable – buggy and went offline after a buggy build made it to the iTunes store. The Bay Area Bike app is better but the API which they use must be delayed or not real-time since after getting advised that a docking station had availability I found it did not and had to haul my ass back 2 blocks to another docking station to drop the bike off.
  • Better API. Open up the API with real-time data including rider GPS location. This way any developer can go nuts creating apps which not only track their biking habits but can also build a commute scheduling system to ease the pain of availability. I can already see a nice app which integrates Moves app API with Bay Area Bike Share API. Yeah!
  • Gamification. Now who wouldn’t mind finding out they are in the top 10 for say San Francisco fastest cyclists or most miles travelled in a week. A mobile app or even a website interface which would allow rides to see their standing against all the other Bay Area Bike Share riders. Then take it a notch further and do cities i.e. LA vs SF. Now it’s getting interesting.. which city is the most healthiest based on users riding, miles travelled etc… this would create some healthy competition.

If you want to learn more about this program and sign up visit the Bay Area Bike Share website. They also have a Tumblr page here where photos of the bikes and users are posted every week.

Happy Biking!
~ Ernest

Rocket Space: accelerator for high-growth seed-funded tech startups

Hidden at the edge of Soma 181 Fremont in San Francisco is a kickass community of over 100 startups working in a funky environment changing the world. This place is called Rocket Space. It is situated in Soma, as is known as the Silicon Valley of San Francisco.

Rocket Space is best described as follows:

“RocketSpace is an accelerator for high-growth, seed-funded tech startups. We provide the fuel that every startup needs to accelerate: access to top talent, tier 1 venture capital, and blue-chip brands representing millions of users. Startup. Blast off.”

Startups in Soma, San Francisco – the Silicon Valley of San Francisco

What is Rocket Space

So as mentioned above, Rocket Space is an accelerator for high-growth seed-funded tech startups. Started in 2011 today hosts around 130 hot startups in two 3 level builds – plenty of room. Rocket Space provides fuel that every startup needs to accelerate: access to top talent, tier 1 venture capital, and blue chip brands representing millions of users. More about Rocket Space here. And it is open 24×7 to members.

Unlike HackerDojo which I have blogged about in the past Rocket Space is for the next level in a startup’s life cycle. Still lean but “after” the idea has been developed into a product and a minimum viable product (MVP) launched.

I’m not delusional I’m an entrepreneur

“If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.” ~ Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google

What I find cool about Rocket Space

  • The environment is kickass. From the decor to the energy. There is just a great vibe being there. It feels like Facebook inside but everyone is working on their own startups.
  • Let me touch on energy again. With over 100 startups here there are plenty of smart folks to hang with, learn from and collaborate. Just being around smart people changing the world is inspiring and motivating to get things done. Beats sitting at home listening to the fridge buzzing.
  • Plenty of meeting rooms scattered around the edges of the large open working space.
  • Conveniently located between Soma and the Financial District in San Francisco. Around 20 minutes walking distance from San Francisco Caltrain station.
  • Plenty of fuel (food) around Rocket Space. My favorite is the SF Soup Company since it is light and doesn’t generate any brain drain. They have great Clam Chowder. Yum!
  • Finally Rocket Space offers access to weekly community events, founder mentoring sessions, access to talent and education program called RocketSpace Academy (RSA).
  • Rocket Space and GTDfaster (my productivity app) both contain a “rocket” in the logo – I thin Rocket Space was meant to be! GTDfaster logo comes from the fact of getting stuff done fast – accelerating. Rocket Space is Startup and Blast off!
Foyer at Rocket Space space

Want to get a tour? Get in touch with Rocket Space via their online form:
http://www.rocket-space.com/contact-us/

A meeting room at RocketSpace

Is Rocket Space for everyone?

Nope. You must be at the right stage in your company’s life cycle to get accepted.
See the table below to see if you are at the right stage to gain the most value out of being a part of Rocket Space community.

Phase Funding Team size Space
Exploring None Founders Home / HackerDojo
Hacking that idea None Founders HackerDojo
MVP out Seed Founders Rocket Space
Scaling Series A Founders + 10 to 20 Rocket Space

Finally, if you see me at Rocket Space say GDay! I am disrupting the health industry and saving lives at medlertapp.com via leading edge mobile technology powered by high-tech event-driven python platform. If you want to learn more about Medlert say GDay! See you around.

Top floor working space
Top floor working space
David testing Medlert's new Android app - medlertapp.com
David testing Medlert’s new Android app – medlertapp.com

How to connect with Rocket Space

Keep your family safe today. Download the free app that with One touch calls 911 & notifies your family of an emergency.

~ Ernest

Tips on travelling in the USA

The following list is by no means complete or exhaustive of everything one needs to know to travel in the USA. This is a list of stuff I learnt in the last 1 year of travelling around USA. These I share with you now and will regularly update as I learn more and any corrections along the way.

Tips

  • Use a “SuperShuttle” to and from the airport. http://www.supershuttle.com/it’s a shared taxi van of around 9 people. It’s dirt cheap vs. crazy taxi fares and you get to see more of the area as they drop off people around town.
  • If you live in the valley and have your own car and are taking a short trip of around a week it is cheaper esp. with a coupon & more convenient to leave your car at any of the available airport parking companies. Some which are further away from the airport have shuttle buses that take you to the airport and back for free so don’t worry if it’s 5 minutes outside the airport.
  • If you are arriving to the USA don’t bother bringing your wardrobe. Clothes here are cheap. Dirt cheap. Brands and all. Especially during public holidays like Thanks Giving or Christmas time by average 50% off.
  • If you need to rent a car do it through Enterprise. I find them the most reliable and mostly the cheapest. Sign up on their website to receive regular coupons to bring that price down and don’t forget to read my post on car rental hidden costs to save even further.
  • For accommodation I highly recommend AirBnB. Airbnb is an online service that matches people seeking vacation rentals and other short-term accommodations globally with locals with rooms to rent. It’s fun, cheaper than hotels, you can be very selective on location (not restricted by hotels location), meet interesting people and live like a local. It works really well in big cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. We only use AirBnB now when travelling. Why spend big $$$ on a hotel when all you need is a place to sleep and store your luggage. Use the money you save to buy some fashion!
  • Americans drive fast on freeways that stretch up to 5 lanes each way. Get ready. Either hire a GPS or bring your own so you’re not slowing traffic down. As long as you’re not doing anything dangerous on the road you will be fine to keep up with the communal speed limit. I’ve seen police sway across all lanes to slow traffic down when it gets too fast.
  • The only dangerous creatures are Bears (especially Grizzly) & Mountain Lions. You wont see poisonous spiders, snakes or crazy insects.
  • For more tips visit each of the places mentioned below. The posts include their own unique tips.

Some of the great places we have visited

  • New York City (Manhattan) – The city that never sleeps. My favorite! One of the most densely populated areas in the world. Known for its financial and fashion center of both the United States and the world.
  • Los Angeles – West Hollywood. Home of the movie industry.
  • San Francisco – Home of the high-tech scene and area known as Silicon Valley.
  • Hawaii – Made up entirely of islands like Big Island, Maui etc. Natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches and oceanic surrounding, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists.
  • Monterey – 1-hr drive south of the valley. A beautiful coastal city.
  • Carmel-by-the-sea – a hidden gem round the corner from Monterey. The beachy town is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history.
  • Yosemite National Park – Designated a World Heritage Site recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.
  • Yellowstone National Park – a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features.
  • Las Vegas – The Strip. Internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, partying (clubs) and fine dining.

I will be posting individual posts to each of those locations with photos so come back soon.

~ Ernest