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The Future of Bike Sharing Schemes in the United States

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-28-11 06:23 AM
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The Future of Bike Sharing Schemes in the United States
from the Next American City:




The Future of Bike Sharing Schemes in the United States
Theodore Brown | Jun 24th, 2011




Boston is a small city; you can walk from one official end to the other in under an hour at a brisk pace. Being small has its advantages. Most Bostonians can walk to work when the weather is nice when they have the will and public transportation tends to serve areas of dense employment pretty thoroughly. Lacking megalopolis status also means that Boston has a relative affinity for its bicycle-bound commuters and late this past April, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino made the push for bicycles to become a permanent part of Bostons infrastructure landscape by initiating a bike-sharing program.

Bike sharing is a fledgling concept in the United States and has the tendency to be scattershot geographically. Chicago, Minneapolis, and Des Moines have programs in the Midwest while shares in Miami, Boston, and Washington, D.C. dot the coastlines. Two cities known for their high share of cycling commuters and typically progressive agendas, New York and San Francisco, are exploring their options. The most robust of these programs, Capital Bikeshare in Washington, has about 1,100 bikes and 114 stations distributed throughout the metro area, about one-fifth the size of Montreals Bixi (the largest in North America) and one-twentieth the size of Paris Vlib.

The relative size of the American bike programs to their international counterparts has more to do with the lack of political and economic will to invest in a program that is seen as both detrimental to the car industry still one of the most powerful lobbies in the US even post-bailout and impractical due to the still burgeoning suburbs. America is, ostensibly, an urbanized country (82%) which should provide a population that would make wide use of bike shares, but the statistics are misleading as the geographic idiosyncrasies of American metro areas lead to demographics much more likely to use their cars than their bikes. Sunny and sprawling Phoenix, Arizona spans more than 500 square miles and every resident that resides within that plane is counted as an urban dweller.

That being said, bike sharing has been gaining momentum in major metropolitan areas in recent years and months, best exhibited by the Capital Bikeshare (C.B.). While there are cities with higher percentages of cycling commuters Boulder, Colorado, an idyllic college town has one of the only double-digit modal share among U.S. metro areas Washington, D.C.s program is a model for other densely populated cities. Sam Kelly, a Peace Corps volunteer on his way to Namibia in August, took his first ride on C.B. Two weeks ago. The two stations near to me were pleasant surprises, he said in an interview last week, and as I got towards the city center I started seeing more of them. The system seems like its working great. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://americancity.org/buzz/entry/3039 /



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