Hopefully you already know Bike Share is coming to Austin, but what does that mean? How will a bike share system affect mobility on a daily basis for those of us that work and play downtown? And is there anything to be learned from the almost viral success of other bike share systems across the country?
By creating another layer of connections in our transportation network, Bike Share will have a tremendously positive impact on the way people move around in the downtown area. For example, a commuter who takes the Redline into work and needs to get to the Market District could take a bike rather than walk, saving quite a bit of time. The bikes will be perfect for shorter trips (1-3 miles). For those who work downtown, that greatly increases the number of lunch spots and other amenities like dry cleaners, to which we often run midday errands. No longer will one need a car for these short trips around downtown.
Currently, there are more than 15 bike share programs across the U.S. with more than 550,000 members in cities as far flung as Miami and as close by as San Antonio. What can we learn from their experiences? Recently, a report took a closer look at what makes a bike share program successful and recommends certain issues that any new Bike Share program should consider. Here are a few that Movability thinks are especially important.
- Set clear goals for success. What do we, as a community, want from the bike share program? Residents of Austin recently outlined various goals in the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan. Our bike share program should seek to aid in the implementation of the ideas in Imagine Austin. Bike Share can be used to accomplish many goals, even those outside the realm of transportation. Bike Share can help us link people to jobs, increase physical activity of residents, increase air quality by decreasing the number of miles traveled in a vehicle each day and by helping to create more people friendly places.
- The more the public views the bike share program as theirs and as a community asset, the more likely it is to be successful. The entity in charge of bike share for Austin, should engage with the public early in the process and continue that dialogue throughout each phase of development.
- Bike Share should be closely integrated with other transportation options currently available such as Zipcar, car2go, MetroBus, Rapid Bus and the Redline. This also includes connecting users through technology; such as mobile applications that display all options for any potential trip. The stronger we make these connections and the more choices that are available to commuters, the easier it is to leave the car at home.
A Bike Share program will be a welcome addition to the Austin transportation network and we are excited to see it happen!