Celebrating Remix & Simple Tools
We here at FreeBike want to offer our congratulations to our friends at Remix, and also consider how free bikes can be like rocket fuel for transportation planning.
So, first: Remix is a transportation planning company, and it was acquired today by leading public mobility platform Via. For those of you who are transportation planning professionals, you know what Remix is. For those of you who aren't, the essence of Remix is simple tools for helping cities think carefully about a wide range of transportation possibilities. In particular, Remix is beloved by many for helping non-professionals imagine and suggest transportation improvements. Remix grew out of a hack-a-thon, where its founders started by putting together simple tools for residents of any city to suggest new public transit routes. Users quickly made 30,000 suggestions (wow!), and shortly thereafter Remix was born.
And second: A big part of the power of giving people free bikes is that it turns out that it is really, really hard to predict where and when people will want to go places. The FreeBike mindset is to provide the simplest, most affordable, most flexible solution that covers the great majority of trips, so that resources are left for those few remaining trips. Imagine that you needed to plan where to put new light rail lines 20 years in advance of when the lines would go into operation, then you needed to raise billions of dollars, weigh the preferences of hundreds of thousands of people, subject your city to a massive construction project, and then decide which hours of operation and what frequency of service you would be able to support. Hope you've done your homework, because that's tough! Now imagine that instead you needed to place an order for bikes that you would distribute within a matter of months, and then note where people asked for more bike lanes. Way, way more doable. And you get the same results when you compare virtually any traditional mobility service to simply giving people free bikes: they're all more expensive, more complicated, more resource-intensive, and fundamentally harder to plan.
It turns out that by lightening our footprint, using small vehicles, and letting people move themselves without need of a professional driver, we take pressure off the city. We use less space, we use less mass, we use vehicles that are inherently safer. When you take pressure off, people can simply move, and city planners can focus their resources on those remaining trips that people still need help with.
So, today let's celebrate Remix's journey, it has only just begun. And, let's toast to the spirit of Remix: making it easy for members of any & every community -- from walkers to bikers to transit riders to professional transportation planners -- to participate in deciding how their city will move.