Tech Feature + Video: B-cycle

Photo of a B-cycle bike

“B-cycle: Users fitting bike share into their lifestyles”

San Antonio Express-News

Photo of B-cycle bike-share station and bikes
The B-cycle bike-share system, showing kiosk, station and bikes. Photo: Courtesy Bcycle.com

Purpose + Audience

In early 2011, San Antonio launched a bike-share pilot program called B-cycle, a high-tech system of payment kiosks, rental hubs, GPS-equipped bicycles and online user analytics. With this feature, I aimed to increase the public’s awareness of the initiative through a strong, human narrative, showing how residents were responding to the program. The San Antonio Express-News is a daily newspaper with a strong web presence — a monthly average of 2.4 million page views — suggesting that a video web extra would add value to local readers and help spread the story nationally to other B-cycle cities.

Photo of a B-cycle bike
San Antonio residents can use a B-cycle bike for short trips and errands around town. Photo: Courtesy Bcycle.com

Process

Obtaining mileage logs from the B-cycle organizers, I began by identifying and interviewing the system’s most active users. These interviews revealed a range of experiences with the system, and provided a narrative arc connecting the initiative to San Antonio’s downtown neighborhood culture. One user agreed to provide an introduction to using the bike system, which I shot in HD video and edited in Final Cut Pro.

Results

The story led the newspaper’s Sunday S.A. Life section, with a banner teaser on Page 1. To promote it, I circulated links to various downtown development organizations and used social media to engage B-cycle users in other U.S. cities; these efforts helped drive traffic to the article and video and boost search rankings for the Express-News.

Excerpt

No wonder some call him “The Jared of B-cycle.”

In only three months, Phillip Schrank has logged more than 750 miles using San Antonio’s bike-share program, shedding about 45 pounds. He’s one of B-cycle’s top users and — like the Subway spokesman he’s been compared to — a natural booster.

“I call myself the ‘spokes-person,’” Schrank jokes.

Since the downtown bike share launched this spring, B-cycle users have logged more than 32,400 miles. Some, like Schrank, ride for health reasons, others use the bikes for transportation or just for fun. Many are also enjoying a burgeoning sense of community among riders.

Full Text

Read “Users fitting bike share into their lifestyles” at mysanantonio.com.