Bikeshare programs are becoming more and more popular in American cities, including Austin, where Austin B-cycle now has 40 stations and 400 bikes around the city. When bike share programs first rolled out, some voiced concerns that inexperienced riders on the street would mean more crashes. Not only has that not happened, but it also turns out that bike share riders are particularly law-abiding.
A study that came out this January examined the behavior of more than 4,000 New York City cyclists, including general bike riders, commercial cyclists and bike share users.
Bikeshare riders were more likely to follow traffic laws – in particular they were better at stopping at red lights – and more likely to ride in bike lanes.
The study’s authors also think that Citi Bike, New York City’s bikeshare program, has helped narrow the gender gap among cyclists.
Some of the study’s other findings included:
- In general women cyclists were more law-abiding than men, although male bike share riders stop at red lights at a higher rate than any other male group of cyclists.
- The number of cyclists overall who rode against traffic has dropped to 7.4 percent from the 13.2 percent recorded in 2009.
- Citi Bike riders in general rode in bike lanes at a higher rate than other riders.
“It is probably the case that the increased volume of cyclists by itself (owing, in part, to a launch of the bike share program) has created a new definition of the situation on city streets,” the study’s authors say. “Cyclists are no longer an anomaly. They are increasingly becoming a fixture of urban life. As the number of cyclists grows, both motorists and cyclists are becoming more mindful of the presence of the other and the need to adjust their behavior accordingly.”
In Austin, People for Bikes is hoping to spread that same message. The organization recently collected portraits and profiles of bike share riders to highlight how easy and convenient bike share is for anyone to use, not just avid cyclists. You can check out the profiles and portraits here. If you haven’t tried Austin B-cycle yet, give it a spin – you can see the station locations on this map.