Many Americans think that bicycling is pure recreational fun. Fresh air, exercise, and adventure being the reason that people bicycle these days. But the culture is shifting toward bicycling to work, to the grocery, to a restaurant, and even for long distant travel.
Many activities now involve a bicycle. Americans spend about $81 billion a year on bike-related needs and expenses, The Outdoor Association estimates. It’s unclear how much of that is spent on recreational bicycling versus utilitarian bicycling, but compared to what Americans spend on airline tickets, $51 billion, bicycling is clearly a heavyweight.
A big part of the utilitarian bicycling trend is bike sharing. Former DC and Chicago transportation chief Gabe Klein reminds us with solid evidence that bike sharing serves the city — it is a genuine form of public transportation.
A big question, for many reasons, is: who is shifting to bike sharing, people who typically use mass transit or people leaving their cars at home or even selling them?
A study by Berkeley researchers Elliot Martin and Susan Shaheen for the Journal of Transport Geography looks at this shift. Their study, “Evaluating public transit modal shift dynamics in response to bikesharing: a tale of two U.S. cities,” evaluates survey data from Washington DC and Minneapolis “to explore who is shifting toward and away from public transit as a result of bikesharing,” as described by the study’s abstract. As a CityLab article, “The Most Persuasive Evidence Yet that Bike-Share Serves as Public Transit,” excerpts:
The denser the urban environment (particularly for rail), the more bikesharing provides new connections that substitute for existing ones. The less dense the environment, the more bikesharing establishes new connections to the existing public transit system.
Eric Jaffe of CityLab believes cities should extend the span of public transit and include publicly funded bikeshares. If bikeshares are supporting mass transit as this study shows, the argument make sense. And that could mean a lot more funding for bikeshares. Take a look at this and other maps in his original posts:
Eric Jaffe explains in summation: “the maps suggest that bike-share, at least in Minneapolis and Washington, is making the entire multimodal transit network more efficient. Jaffe also shares: “Past work has found that bike-share members decrease their car use considerably: According to one survey, 52 percent did so in Minneapolis, and 41 percent in Washington, D.C.”
Private funding for bikeshares operates in other cities such as New York’s Citi Bike. However, Jaffe points out the moment for bike shares to receive the support of public money is now. Jaffe cites flaws with private financial models that limit the system. Studies such as “Evaluating public transit modal shift dynamics in response to bikesharing: a tale of two U.S. cities” increase the documentation needed to show that bike shares should be included within public transit systems. Along with increased transit flexibility, their addition offers cities less smog, cleaner transit, and happier travelers.
Here is a great view a self-regulating synchronicity of pedestrian, transit traveler, bike, and train.
How DC Became A Leader In Bike Sharing
Earth Policy Institute Projects Bike Fleets To Quadruple By 2014, Shared Bikes Increased 10 Fold Since
New Study: Bicyclists & Protected Bike Lanes Offer Big Savings To Society
How To Make Bike Commuting More Popular
Image Credit: thisisbossi (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)
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