The Bike-Sharing program has become increasingly popular over the last few years, as even the city of New York has joined the ranks of many other cities with its launch of Citi Bikes. It was, however, the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota that launched one of the largest urban bike-sharing systems in America back in June of 2010. The program debuted with a total of 700 bicycles at sixty-five solar–powered kiosks. Since then, the program has expanded into the city of Saint Paul and to other areas of Minneapolis as well, bringing the total number of bicycles to 1,550 at 116 kiosks over the entire Twin Cities area. The program is implemented on a yearly basis between the months of April and November, and has become one of the first signs of the spring season for many city residents.
In the case of Minneapolis, Minnesota, leisure riders, tourists, and even businessmen and women account for the largest portion of users of the Nice Ride bicycles. The areas where most bicycles are commonly used have been found to be the areas of Downtown and Uptown, accounting for short business and leisure trips; as well as to the Minneapolis park system and one of the main tourist attractions, Lake Calhoun, indicating an interest or usage among tourists. However, the system has also become somewhat affiliated with that of a ‘middle-class’ phenomena tied to transportation choices more closely associated with those of higher income or social status as indicated in the 2011 Annual Report, which shows students, bankers, and politicians as regular users.
Interestingly enough, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has found that the bike-sharing system in relation to urban planning works best in dense areas, with stations closer together. In addition, their report has found that people bike more after joining bike-share, even if they had previously already owned a bike, and that theft and vandalism are not a major concern. Lastly, the program works best as a comprehensive system rather than a small one.
Based on these themes and factual reports, how can a bike-sharing system encompass urban planning and play a bigger role in more diverse neighborhoods? How would it best serve the needs of groups who would rely on this form of transportation to conduct daily tasks, or as a form of transportation to and from the workplace? What seems to be the missing piece?
Credits: Data linked to sources. Image by Jasna Hadzic.