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FHWA Offers a Guide for American Cities and Towns Considering Bike-Share

Posted By Angie Schmitt On September 10, 2012 @ 4:20 pm In Bike Sharing,Federal Highway Administration | 3 Comments


Weekday usage patterns of Washington DC's Capital Bikeshare, Denver B-cycle, and Minneapolis's Nice Ride. Image: FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has come out with a handy report [PDF [2]] for communities thinking about getting into the bike-sharing game. Based on a study of 12 planned and existing bike-sharing systems from around the U.S., the report is intended to help explain the basics of bike-share and guide cities through the choices they’ll face when launching a system. While the specific advice isn’t exactly groundbreaking, the mere fact that the FHWA has produced the guide indicates that bike-sharing is becoming increasingly common in America.

In the report, FHWA offers guidance on topics from bike-share business models to station planning and implementation. It outlines typical costs per bike and per station, as well as pricing structures for bike-share members. The report also provides a useful guide to the potential sources of federal funding for bike-share systems. (Most systems rely on a combination of federal, state and local funding sources.)

All of the lessons collected in the report come from U.S. cities, not from the world’s leading bike-share systems, which limits the document but perhaps makes the idea of bike-share seem more attainable to other American cities. Among the existing bike-share systems examined for the report, Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare [3] is the largest, with about 1,700 bikes and 175 stations currently. By comparison, Montreal’s Bixi has 5,000 bikes, and London’s bike-share system has about 8,000.

Here’s a look at what the FHWA is telling prospective bike-share cities.

On city characteristics:

  • Having quality bike infrastructure in place helps, but you don’t need it to have an effective bike-sharing system.
  • Small systems can be successful even in low-density cities.

On safety:

  • Helmet use should be encouraged, but it should be up to the individual to provide their own helmet.
  • Crash rates for bike-share users have been low overall.

On running a successful system:

  • Gaining strong political and financial support is a must.
  • Bike-share stations work best in areas where there are mixed land uses, i.e. retail, office and residential.
  • Higher use bike-share stations tend to be located in higher-density, walkable areas.
  • Serving low-income and minority populations remains a challenge.
  • Bike-share stations should be spaced no more than half a mile from each other. (Note that New York, which plans for its bike-share system to turn an operational profit, is siting its stations to typically be about 1,000 feet apart [4], or about a fifth of a mile.)

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URL to article: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2012/09/10/fhwa-offers-a-guide-for-american-cities-and-towns-considering-bike-share/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://usa.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2012/09/bike_share_graph.jpg

[2] PDF: http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/promote/bikeshareintheus.pdf

[3] Capital Bikeshare: http://beyonddc.com/log/?p=3859

[4] about 1,000 feet apart: http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/01/26/starting-next-week-you-can-help-choose-bike-share-station-locations/

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