Lessons Sacramento Can Learn from Successful City Bike Share Programs

A row of bikes from a bike share program.

Lessons Sacramento Can Learn from Successful City Bike Share Programs

June 15, 2017 | By The Railyards

A bike share program is coming to Sacramento. The initial rollout is placing 100 bikes and 20 bike parking corrals throughout downtown and midtown Sacramento, as well as the Waterfront District near The Railyards. With plans to make 800 bikes available by November, Sacramento may be gearing up to match the success of other cities’ bike share programs.

A bicycle sharing system, also known as a public bike system, is a program designed to make biking more accessible in urban areas. Instead of having to keep track of your own bike, and deal with the worry of damage or theft, you can borrow the bike and use it when needed. Bikes are made available at “stations” and can be borrowed from one station and returned to another, allowing an individual to bike from, for instance, a train station to a retail area or athletic venue. Usually, the first 30 or 45 minutes is free or very inexpensive, allowing the bikes to be lent to multiple users throughout the day.

Each bike sharing program is a little different, and some have been more successful than others. So, what can be learned from these programs? We’ve detailed information about some of the success stories to provide examples for anyone interested in bicycle sharing.

BIKETOWN, Portland

Portland, Oregon has one of the longest-lived and publically successful bike share programs in the United States. The program is called BIKETOWN and has made borrowing bike’s easy for anyone with a simple rental program. You can pay either $2.50 per trip, $12.00 per day or $12.00 per month (with the annual pass.) One of the best-loved aspects of BIKETOWN is that it allows for reservations up to 10 minutes ahead, using the app. Therefore, if riders are expecting to be near a station, they can assure they’ll have a bike ready. 30 minutes is the standard ride rate, but additional time is available on a per-minute basis. BIKETOWN also has commercial partners (including Portland-based Nike) that help the program remain profitable for the city and highly-functional for users.

Citi Bike, New York

New York, New York offers more than one opportunity for bike sharing. However, the most successful and “official” program is called Citi Bike. The success of bike sharing in New York makes sense as it is a city that is used to public transportation. One thing to learn from Citi Bike is how important partnership can be--Citi Bike is directly sponsored by Citi Bank. Being sponsored by a bank, it only makes sense that data is highly prized by the organization. Anyone can log on and discover which stations are most popular, what times are busiest, and read reports that are provided to the department of transportation. This level of transparency is nearly unheard of among other similar programs.

Nice Ride, Minneapolis

Nice Ride MN is the official bike-sharing system in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One thing that makes this sharing system unique is that it is based in a city that has abysmal weather during the winter months. The system shuts down from around November through April of each year. The reason for this is a need for snow-clearing equipment to access the sidewalks and other areas during the winter. Despite only operating a little over half the year, Nice Ride MN has shown that bike sharing can be successful even in cities that have poor weather conditions.

The Hubway, Boston

One of the most fascinating cities to enter into the bike sharing trend is Boston. The greater Boston area, for those who aren’t local to the area, spans across several municipalities. Therefore, the bike share concept had to be somewhat adapted to make sure all local regulations were met, and each county or city was handled in a fair manner when it came to finances. The solution is called The Hubway and has grown to serve riders in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. Another way that this program has succeeded is in getting businesses involved--there is a bicycle benefits program that gives members benefits at many bike-friendly establishments across the region.

In reading these examples, one thing is obvious--bike sharing is an excellent program for many communities. “This will be the easiest, cheapest way to get around,” says Sacramento downtown Councilman Steve Hansen. Sacramento’s bike sharing program is a long awaited step in offering alternatives to short driving trips and is bringing us one step closer to a (bike-friendly) future of sustainability in Sacramento.

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