A new survey [PDF] by researchers at UC Berkeley and published in Access Magazine sheds light on how bike-share systems interact with transit.
Researchers Susan Shaheen and Elliot Martin surveyed more than 10,000 bike-share riders in Montreal, Toronto, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and Washington, DC. Like previous surveys have shown, Shaheen and Martin found that a significant number of bike-share users reduce car use. But their main focus was how bike-share affects transit use.
The effect of bike-share on transit travel habits varied according to the context. As you might expect, in areas with sparse transit, bike-share offers an important “last-mile” connection. In areas with dense transit networks, bike-share serves as more of a substitute for transit, relieving crowding on packed buses and trains.
People who live in urban cores with well-developed rail systems — like central D.C. — are more likely to substitute bike-share for transit. In these areas, Shaheen and Martin note, bike-share may offer a more direct, quicker alternative to the bus or the train — and that helps open up space on transit lines that need it most.