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Seven Ways to Make Bike-share More Accessible

Posted By Angie Schmitt On November 30, 2012 @ 10:55 am In Network Roundup | 24 Comments

Bike-sharing has been one of the most rapidly spreading transportation innovations in American cities over the past few years; scarcely a month goes by without a new city announcing its intentions to develop a system. And with good reason: Bike-share doesn’t cost much to install and operate [1], and it’s healthy — for cities and people [2].


Miami Beach's Deco Bike. Photo: IVN.us [4]

But one cloud looming over this happy development is that not all residents have benefited equally [5] from bike-share, which has tended to generate a disproportionately affluent ridership. Darren Buck at Network blog Bike Pedantic [6] has been researching this topic as part of his graduate coursework. He identified seven ways cities can help ensure their public bikes are broadly used, and he recently sent out a survey to 20 bike-share systems to see whether they’re implementing these strategies:

Station Siting – This question asked bikesharing system managers if they were planning to ensure that some stations are located in areas primarily serving low-income communities. Examples might include conscious placement of stations adjacent to affordable housing, or prioritizing expansion to minority neighborhoods disproportionately underrepresented in bicycling.

Financial Assistance – This could be a partnership with a nonprofit agency providing bank accounts and debit/credit cards to low-income “unbanked” citizens, installment payment plans, subsidies for low/moderate income users, and relaxing security deposit requirements.

Safe Places to Ride – Bikesharing gets ridden more often near bike facilities [7], but socioeconomically-disadvantaged neighborhoods are significantly underfunded [8] for these facilities. What is the bikesharing system doing to press the powers-that-be to bring bike facilities to those neighborhoods, to help ensure bikeshare gets ridden safely and more often?

Membership Media – Having a subsidized credit card to get a bikeshare membership is great. But most people already have a transit farecard. Perhaps a common payment card could not only lower a barrier, but could be one big step toward fuller integration of bikesharing with the public transportation system.

The remaining three, which Darren outlines in more detail, are: community-specific marketing and outreach; overcoming barriers to bicycling; and providing an economic contribution to communities.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council’s The Connector blog [9] says President Obama should look carefully at the economic challenges the greater Chicago region is experiencing as he develops a metropolitan policy for his second term. The Austin Contrarian [10] writes that officials in his city have reserved an awfully small share of total developable land — just 10 percent — for multi-family housing. And Utility Cycling [11] demonstrates how to haul a Christmas tree by bike.

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URL to article: http://streetsblog.net/2012/11/30/seven-ways-to-make-bike-share-more-accessible/

URLs in this post:

[1] operate: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/04/20/capital-bikeshare-nearly-operationally-profitable/

[2] cities and people: http://streetsblog.net/2012/03/26/capital-bikeshare-both-replaces-and-promotes-transit-trips/

[3] Image: http://streetsblog.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/san-diego-bike-sharing-program-86491.jpg

[4] IVN.us: http://ivn.us/san-diego/2012/11/18/decobike-san-diegos-2013-bike-sharing-program/

[5] benefited equally: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/10/03/why-isnt-bike-share-reaching-more-low-income-people/

[6] Bike Pedantic: http://bikepedantic.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/bikeshare-equity-framework/

[7] gets ridden more often near bike facilities: http://bikepedantic.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/bikeshare-is-to-bike-lanes-as-peyton-is-to-the-colts-3/

[8] significantly underfunded: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/jphp/journal/v30/nS1/abs/jphp200860a.html

[9] Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council’s The Connector blog: http://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/blog-post/6596?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+mpc-blog+%28MPC+blog+posts%29

[10] The Austin Contrarian: http://www.austincontrarian.com/austincontrarian/2012/11/zoning-capacity-study.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Austincontrarian+%28Austin+Contrarian%29

[11] Utility Cycling: http://www.utilitycycling.org/2012/11/tis-the-season-moving-a-christmas-tree-by-bike/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+utilitycyclingfeed+%28Utility+Cycling%29

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